Hunter McElrea has come away from the Indy Pro 2000 Oval Challenge of St Louis slightly deflated after he struggled to find an ideal balance over the course of the race, eventually finishing 11th.
Straight off two impressive podium finishes, McElrea was expecting a strong result this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway as the Road to Indy circus reunited with its paternal IndyCar series for the first time since July.
However, lining up eighth on the grid, McElrea struggled with balance over the course of the 55-lap race in which overtaking once again proved to be difficult.
“Not much else to say, other than you win and lose as a team,” said McElrea.
“For whatever reason we just struggled to find a balance all weekend. I am proud of myself knowing I got the absolute maximum out of the car today, and really have to thank my guys Pabst Racing for working very hard trying sort out the issues.
“11th was the most that could be achieved today. Already thinking about next weekend.”
Unfortunately, the result means the Kiwi has been demoted to seventh in the overall standings, 64-points adrift of Devlin DeFrancesco who extended his points lead today having claimed a dominant maiden Indy Pro 2000 race win after leading from lights to flag.
The 20-year-old kept his composure and came out trumps in a four-car battle for the lead as he expertly fended off Braden Eves for the victory.
Eves put up a late charge from fourth to second in the last six laps, craving past Sting Ray Robb on Lap 49 before executing a wily last lap pass on Artem Petrov for second.
The former Toyota Racing Series pilot defended admirably from Eves, moving to the inside line at Turns 3 and 4 to keep his rival at bay. However, a strong exit gave Eves the run he needed on the young Russia to snare the position away at the line.
Danial Frost slipped back to fifth after starting on the second row, over 12 seconds behind DeFrancesco.
Last week’s standout performer Kody Swanson had a more difficult affair, duelling with McElrea for most of the race eventually falling in line behind the Kiwi who finished as the first driver off the lead lap.
The Indy Pro 2000 grid will now have a string of three successive races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course over September 3-4 as the championship draws nearer its conclusion.