Hunter McElrea has added to his podium collection this weekend with another second-placed finish, his fourth of the year, in the final Indy Pro 2000 race from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
The Kiwi now moves to fifth in the championship with three rounds left to run but importantly has made a statement on the title protagonists that he is most certainly a threat for the crown and his pace over the last few races has certainly supported these claims.
McElrea took the green flag from second and briefly went three-wide with pole-sitter Sting Ray Robb and Devlin DeFrancesco on the run into Turn 1.
Emerging as the victor from the squabble was Robb who then romped home to his third successive victory of the weekend, finishing an unchallenged 2.8-seconds clear of McElrea.
Following the Turn 1 kafuffle, McElrea then shut the door on a daring attempt by DeFrancesco into Turn 7, forcing his rival into a slide and he skated across the grass, losing several positions.
It gave the Pabst Racing driver some breathing room to try and reel in Robb but the hard-charging American was too quick and well composed to expertly keep his rival at bay for all 20 laps.
Having scored his third podium in five races, McElrea admits Robb was just a little too out of touching distance but was satisfied with his team’s performance and is eager to finally snare that maiden race win.
“Sting Ray was on new tyres and he was fast all week – the Juncos cars were best this weekend,” he said. “But I think we had the second-best car and we maximized every opportunity.
“It’s been a big learning year for myself and the team and I can’t thank them enough. We’re chipping away at it. It’s my fourth second-place finish so I hope that first win is close.
“I had some good battles today, including a first-lap battle in the third race with DeFrancesco. He was aggressive but he gave me a car width, and I made sure to do the same. But these races are so close. I think this is the strongest Indy Pro 2000 field ever and you have to make hay in the first laps. I’m happy. I’ll keep my head down and keep working hard.”
In the day’s earlier race, McElrea finished sixth while Robb put up a race-winning performance which set him up for the clean sweep.
The Indy Pro 2000 contenders expect to be back in action next weekend pending confirmation for a pair of races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, in conjunction with the IndyCar Series. The event was postponed from earlier in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is yet to land a firm date for when it will return to the calendar.