Friday, October 1, 2021

Don’t Forget about Indy Lights

After all, it’s thar Gory 35th season, even if this weekend is the Season Finale…


Although I’d say that the current Indy Lights series is a former Shell of Itself, and presumably has been forgotten by Most after cancelling last year’s season due to COVID 19. Nonetheless, it’s still the Top rung of thou Road to Indy’s Feeder Series to the vaunted big Boyz’ IndyCar series, where many of it’s current drivers come from.


As I believe I heard that 20 of this year’s IndyCar Drivers are former Indy Lights Alumni…


Trying to not dwell on the negative, it’s actually encouraging in these financially tight times that this year’s Indy Lights series has seen as many as 13 competitors on it’s grid, which is an increase in recent car count, however slight.


The prize money for the series champion has been increased to $1.25m, up from the previous $1.0 million amount and now the top three championship finishers are all awarded an IndyCar test, with the series champion guaranteed three IndyCar races including the Indianapolis 500.


Unfortunately, and I think this is a major boo Boo, the series Didn’t contest it’s signature event, the Freedom 100 this year, the first time since 2002! (Excluding the ultimate Cancellation of the 2020 Season) Although perhaps this is in some part due to the usually small fields of past years?


But it still seems like a bad marketing move to Mwah, even if El Capitano’ nee Roger Penske doesn’t want them holding the Freedom 100 due to what he claims being unnecessary “Carnage!” And is trying to save the Teams from themselves, Err Money…


But speaking of Roger, who after all owns Mother Speedway (IMS) and IndyCar amongst other entities. Penske Entertainment Corp. will take Indy Lights “In-house” beginning in 2022 with the conclusion of Anderson Promotions contract at season’s end.


As the Following is what I’d gleamed for laxt year’s Indy Lights season, prior to it’s cancellation, for which Y’all can compare ‘N contrast to this year’s Indy Lights season’s field below.


2020 Indy Lights Teams/Drivers

Andretti Autosport: Robert Megennis, (R) Kyle Kirkwood, (R) Tristan Charpentier and (R) Danial Frost; Belardi Auto Racing: Toby Sowery and (R) Rasmus Lind; Exclusive Autosport: (R) Nikita Lastochkin; HMD Motorsports: (R) Antonio Serravalle, Santiago Urrutia and David Malukas. (R = Rookie)


As that was last year’s Preliminary Grid before the season was ultimately Cancelled outright. And I still Don’t understand how Indy Lights will ever be able to Grow it’s Market by Hiding behind the Nebulous Peacock Paywall! And Yeah, contrary to popular belief, it is a Gory Paywall!


Since at the very least, IndyCar would be wise to allow the Indy Lights races to be Broadcasted over the IMS or is it now the IndyCar Radio Network? Otherwise you’re never going to get any significant “buzz” (Traction) over IndyCar’s future Drivers!


2021 Indy Lights Teams/Drivers

Andretti Autosport: #27 Robert Megennis, #28 (R) Kyle Kirkwood and #68 (R) Danial Frost; Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport:

#17 (R) Devlin DeFrancesco; Carlin: #5 (R) Alex Peroni and #7 (R) Christian Vogle; Global Racing Group with HMD: #24 (R) Benjamin Peterson and #26 (R) Linus Lundqvist; HMD Motorsports: #59 (R) Nikita Lastochkin and #79 David Malukas; Juncos Racing: #2 (R) Sting Ray Rob and #51 Toby Sowery and Pserra Racing/AS Promotions: #11 (R) Antonio Serravalle. (R = Rookie)


Meanwhile, having Not raced since Mid Ohio’s round-2 July 4th, Indy Lights finally returned to action August 21-22 at what forever for Mwah will simply be Gateway, aka Wide World Technology Raceway (WWTR) after a Mega’ 48 day “summer Break!” And Y’all thought Indy Cars five weeks off was long, eh?


Heading into WWT Raceway, Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood led the Points standings with 290 followed by HMD Motorsports David Malukas with 279 and Global Racing Group with HMD team-mate Linus Lundqvist’s 265. While Andretti Autosport’s Danial Frost was fourth with 204 points and Juncos Racing’s Toby Sowery had 201, who seem longshots for the title.


Entering Gateway, the Top three Drivers locked firmly in the title fight saw Kirkwood having won six races to Malukas’s four and Lundqvist’s two. With Malukas scoring a Clean Sweep at WWTR to regain the points lead 371-368 over Kirkwood, knotting their claim of wins at six apiece. While Lundqvist remained third with 312 points, being the only drivers to have won races to that point.


Malukas and Kirkwood split the Portland weekend with a win apiece, seeing Kirkwood trailing by five markers heading into Laguna Seca. Kirkwood took a dominating win from Pole on Saturday with Malukas finishing fourth to see Kyle regain the Points lead by 8 points: 456-448, while Malukas’s Stablemate Linus Lundqvist remains third Overall with 381 points prior to the Sunday Laguna Seca round.


Kirkwood continued his domination Sunday by winning both rounds at Laguna Seca from Pole and leading the Most laps to increase his points lead to 15 over Malukas, now leading with 488 points vs. 473, as Malukas finished a disappointing runner-up some 26 seconds adrift.


While I believe that Lundqvist is now mathematically eliminated from title contention with just 403 points? Since if I understand the Points system correctly? Thars a total of 64 points on offer this coming weekend? i.e.; 30 points for a win plus One point apiece for Pole position and Most laps led.


Points are “Paid” for positions first thru 20th with a maximum of 30, followed by 25-22-19-17-15 to 1, with sixth place to twentieth decreasing by one marker each.


Next up, the final Ballad, Err Double Header weekend at Mid Ohio this Saturday-Sunday. Where the two remaining races of the 20 round season’s total, 10 Race weekend schedule will be held on October 2-3 Outta Sight, Outta Mind behind the nebulous Peacock Paywall!


As the Mid Ohio venue fills in for the season’s final two races due to the Toronto weekend being cancelled again due to Covid 19 Travel Restrictions this summer.


As Kirkwood has nine W’s to Malukas’s seven and Lundqvist’s two, as they’ve been the class of the 2021 Lights field, and some have claimed that both Kirkwood and Malukas should graduate to IndyCar’s in order to continue their title contending rivalry, a la 2018

Lights 1-2 Finishers Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta…


As Kirkwood can either tie or Break Greg Moore’s record for Most Wins in a Lights season, which Moore holds with 10 victories in 1995.