Hunter McElrea claimed his second Indy Pro 2000 race win after Christian Rasmussen spun and received a penalty at Barber Motorsport Park.
The Kiwi was pressuring Rasmussen from the green flag. The two started on the front row and quickly bolted away from the pack.
However, Rasmussen put in a flurry of fastest laps and established a comfortable six-second margin over McElrea.
“I was all over Christian for the first five laps to try and apply the pressure, but he had the most pace today,” McElrea said.
“Having gotten sixth yesterday, I was going for points today and was ready to accept second.”
However, Rasmussen spun at turn five with seven laps to go.
While the Dane held onto the lead, he put on several blocking manoeuvres to keep McElrea at bay.
His excessive blocking earned Rasmussen a five-second time penalty. Despite setting the fastest lap of the race on the final race, he couldn’t break out a sufficient lead.
That gave McElrea his first win of 2021 and promotes him to third in the championship, just six points shy of leader Braden Eves.
“When I came out of Turn Five, he was stopped in the middle of the road,” McElrea said.
“He put three blocks on me, so I feel as though he had the win just about in the bag, but he gave it to me.
“He was super fast; I’m sure he’s disappointed. I love racing him; I know we’ll have some good battles this year, but I got lucky with that win, and in this game, you have to take them.
“I probably had the second-place car today but I got lucky. This win puts me right where I need to be.”
McElrea now turns his attention to round two at St Petersburg next weekend.