Hunter McElrea has gone back-to-back and jumped to second place in the Indy Lights standings after winning this mornings race in Iowa. Despite being the second driver across the line, championship leader Linus Lundqvist was served with a post-race penalty which elevated the Kiwi to the top step.
McElrea had led for the first 50 laps after qualifying on pole for the event, before a restart on Lap 50 saw him drift wide at Turn 4 and allow Lundqvist and teammate Matthew Brabham to pass.
Lundqvist and Brabham battled for the win before the championship leader made contact with Brabham’s front wing as he attempted a pass. The contact caused damage but Brabham was able to continue to finish fourth on the road. Race officials deemed the incident avoidable, punishing Lundqvist post-race with a three-place penalty.
This saw McElrea claim the win, the second of his Indy Light career, after claiming his first last time racing in Mid-Ohio, and first on an oval track. It was an Andretti Autosport podium lockout, with teammates Christian Rasmussen and Brabham taking out the remaining spots.
“Not the way I want to get it, obviously,” McElrea said in an interview shared on the Indy Lights website.
“I think, to be honest, Matt deserved that. But I’ll take it. Back to back. You’ll take what you can get in this game.”
He quickly took to social media to share his excitement about the victory.
“What just happened??? Back to back Indy Lights wins,” his Twitter post began.
“What a day, first pole and first win on an oval. Got a little lucky there, but you take what you can get in this sport. Also win number 250 for (Andretti Autosport), and up to 2nd in points.”
Despite sitting second on the championship standings, McElrea is still 77 points behind Lundqvist. With five races remaining, the 22 year old Kiwi will be aiming for strong showings to challenge for the top spot.
The next race is the Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, with a street course setting providing McElrea with a potential race win ‘three-peat’.