INDY LIGHTS: Leist Banks Second Oval Win In Iowa Speedway Thriller

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Mazda Road to Indy 0 Comments

Matheus Leist won his second Indy Lights oval race Sunday at Iowa Speedway. (Road to Indy photo)

NEWTON, Iowa – Indy Lights rookie Matheus Leist is quickly becoming an oval master.

Leist followed up his Freedom 100 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with his second oval win of the season – and third victory overall – in an action-packed Mazda Iowa 100 presented by Cooper Tires on Sunday afternoon.

His victory marks the third consecutive run to the checkers in Iowa for Carlin, who won at the seven-eighths-mile speedway in 2015 with Max Chilton and Felix Serralles last year in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires.

Qualifying was held earlier in the day, with Colton Herta of Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing claiming his fourth pole to date and setting a new track record in the process, with a two-lap average of 39.3279 seconds (163.670 mph).

Carlin’s Zachary Claman DeMelo – who claimed his maiden win the last round at Road America – points leader Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Norman comprised the first two rows.

Six drivers in total bested the existing track record.

Herta led through the opening laps but a brief four-lap caution on lap 23, when Garth Rickards spun in turn two, set the stage for a complete shuffle at the front of the field.

Leist, who qualified 10th and had moved into fourth at that stage, took advantage of a bunched up field and made quick work to pass Claman DeMelo for third, Kaiser for second and Herta for the lead.

The side-by-side action continued with Dalton Kellett, who qualified fifth, moving into contention and a hard-charging Urrutia. With Leist comfortably out front, Urrutia and Kellett became the stars of the show.

Urrutia, last year’s Indy Lights runner-up, sliced through the field from 11th and became embroiled in a duel with Kellett for the second step on the podium which he solidified with 18 laps to go.

Kellett crossed the line in third, followed by Herta and Kaiser.

“I’m so happy. I think this was my best race this year,” said Leist. “Of course, the Freedom 100 was great but I led the whole race. Here, I needed to move forward and I did. I’m so happy for the team – we needed to make some points today. It was a little tricky in the beginning, on new tires. When I managed to overtake Neil just before the yellow, I found out that the high line was perfect for me.”

“When the race restarted, I ran the high line and everyone else was low so I think I passed three drivers in turn one. I couldn’t believe everyone stayed on the inside. The car was just so good so I was able to open a gap, save my tires and get the win. It is a very difficult championship since everything here is new to me so I am being realistic. We’re in a good position now so if we can keep winning, we can keep fighting.”

Full race results can be viewed on the next page…

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