PORTLAND, Ore — Kyle Kirkwood had himself one of those championship type of weekend’s. David Malukas kept the points lead after two more races run, but there Kirkwood was to not let him get away.
On Saturday, Malukas put his No. 79 entry into victory lane for the third straight race after leading 29 of the 30 laps. The move of the race though came from Kirkwood who stormed from the fifth starting spot to get up to second and trail in the standings by just 10 after the weekend opener at the Portland International Raceway.
The win was Malukas’ seventh of the season in general but for Kirkwood to end up with damage control was the story of the day.
Linus Lundqvist scored his seventh podium of the season.
On Sunday, Kirkwood was coming from fourth. Malukas and his teammate Lundqvist shared the front row. Could this be a championship day for Malukas?
Kirkwood decided to not let it be.
Malukas led the opening lap but Kirkwood quickly went to third. After we completed the first lap though, Lundqvist went for a move on his teammate for the top spot. When Malukas decided to defend his spot, it slowed each of them up and allowed Kirkwood to not only close up, but to make a three wide pass after the second corner to take over the lead.
Kirkwood, would hold off Malukas for his seventh win of the year and led 29 of the 30 laps. It cut the deficit back in half as there’s only a five point gap between the two heading to Laguna Seca.
Kirkwood, took the checkered flag 2.5623-seconds ahead of Malukas for their fourth straight 1-2 finish on the season and fifth of the year. They’ve also now combined to win each of the last 11 races.
We’re down to four races left in the season as the fight for the title is going to come down to Mid-Ohio on Oct. 3.
Both have seven wins. Malukas has two runner-ups. Kirkwood has four. Malukas has four third place runs to have 13 podiums compared to Kirkwood’s 11. That’s the difference right now. Still, Kirkwood has six straight top two finishes and nine in the last 10 races. The only outlier was being 12th in the second race at Road America.
Malukas has four straight top twos and seven straight podiums.
Lundqvist was third again for a second straight day while Benjamin Pedersen and Robert Megennis rounded out the top five for the same finishing order for both races.
For Lundqivst, these were his first podiums since Belle Isle but he’s also had 12 top fives in his last 13 starts. Pedersen was third in both races at Gateway and now fourth in both in Portland. These are his first top fives since Road America 1.