Monday, Oct 21 01:44pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Hunter McElrea tops “surreal” test on Indy Pro 2000 debut

A year ago Hunter McElrea was the class of the USF2000 field in testing, now he’s done it again in Indy Pro 2000.

McElrea completed two days of running with Pabst Racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Grand Prix Road Course as part of the post-season Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Test.

The test brings teams and drivers together, either current or prospective, to drive cars from USF2000, Indy Pro 2000 or Indy Lights.

This year McElrea finished runner-up to Braden Eves in the USF2000 Championship. Both drivers stepped up from the entry-level Tatuus USF-17 chassis to the more powerful PM-18.

McElrea clocked the fastest time across the two-day test with a 1:19.4553 ahead of teammate Colin Kaminsky. While the USF-17 and PM-18 aesthetically look similar, McElrea’s times in Indy Pro 2000 were some five seconds faster than those set last year in USF2000.

“This is surreal, actually,” McElrea said.

“I was quickest at this test last year in USF2000 and that really put me on the map going into the Road to Indy Shootout – and now, I’m here a year later topping the Indy Pro 2000 test.

“It’s a credit to Augie Pabst and everyone at Pabst Racing. They let me have a go at this car to prove what I can do, and what they can do as well.

“For a rookie team in this series to come out of this test one-two, you can’t get any better than that. The car was amazing straight out of the box and I was in the top three in every session I did, with a race run at the end to feel what the car is like in race trim.

“That was definitely a highlight of the weekend. It was a lot of new things to adapt to, but the Road to Indy has done a great job in making it a big step from USF2000 but a smooth one in terms of gaining confidence. Now I have to work hard to be on the grid next year, but hopefully this helps.”

Less than half a second covered the top 10 times. In total, McElrea completed 102 laps across the six sessions. Castrol Toyota Racing Series graduates Raoul Hyman and Artem Petrov also featured in the test as well as local driver Parker Locke.