Hunter McElrea says his victory in the final race of the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 championship was the ideal way to cap off a strong debut season.
McElrea earned five podiums before the St. Petersburg finale but had yet to snare an elusive maiden win.
The Kiwi had come close on several occasions including in standout drives at Indianapolis and Mid-Ohio.
However, the winless duck was finally laid to rest in Florida over the weekend with a flawless race under tricky circumstances.
The narrow confinements of the street circuit made overtaking extremely difficult and caught out a handful of the big players such as championship-winner Sting Ray Robb.
Nevertheless, McElrea was able to push himself into race-winning contention before making an excellent pass for the lead on teammate Colin Kaminsky.
“The win was a perfect way to end the year,” said McElrea.
“I knew I was very close to it all year, but it seemed like so many things out of my control was keeping me from achieving it.
“It’s such a good feeling going into the offseason on a high like this and rewarding all my supporters, sponsors, team and backers.
“It’s been the toughest year of my career. It’s been all kinds of little things, constantly grinding, you think it’s your weekend, and something out of your control happens to knock you down.
“I kept resetting, believed in myself and the team, and just did what I needed to do.”
Unfortunately, McElrea missed out on the opportunity to have a guaranteed promotion to Indy Lights next year, as well as a test with an official IndyCar team.
Despite this, the Kiwi is incredibly proud of his achievements and now looks to see what is in store for 2021.
“I’m not sure what next year holds, but I am going to be working hard to be back chasing my journey to IndyCar.
“We’ve ended up fifth in the championship, but this series was pretty much Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights combined.
“The competition was so tough for a rookie team, so to take a win and fifth in the championship in what I believe is the toughest field in the history of this series. I’m proud of what we did.”