Silly Season in the NTT IndyCar Series is heating up and depending on whom you talk to, as many as four current Indy Lights drivers may be on the grid in the top series on the streets of St. Pete come next February. Part of the equation is how the championship race will play out in Indy Lights as over $1-million of scholarship money is awaiting to the driver who can win the title in 2021.
Right now, it’s going to come down to David Malukas vs. Kyle Kirkwood. Heading into the doubleheader weekend in Laguna Seca, Malukas led Kirkwood by a mere five points. That gap has remained between 2-10 between these two drivers for the last half of the season.
On Friday, Kirkwood scored the pole for Saturday’s opening race of the weekend. On Saturday, he backed that up with another top starting spot. Was this his claim for the title?
Malukas qualified third for Saturday’s race and ended up losing the third spot to Benjamin Pedersen on Lap 9 when he got off course. He’d rejoin in fourth and have to settle there for his first finish not on the podium since the opening race of the Road America weekend.
Kirkwood meanwhile, dominated. He’d lead all 30 laps from the pole to score his eighth victory of the season and reclaim the points lead over Malukas by eight points. Between the duo, they’ve now combined to win each of the last 12 races including a four race streak of them going 1-2 come to a halt this weekend.
Kirkwood, also has four runner-up finishes for 12 podiums in 17 tries. Malukas, has seven wins, two runner-ups and four third place runs to combine for 13 podiums. The difference now is Kirkwood has seven straight top two finishes and 10 in the last 11. Malukas, has four top twos in that same seven race span.
Linus Lundqvist crossed the finish line 6.6515-seconds behind Kirkwood for his third straight podium. He scored a pair of third place finishes last weekend in Portland to go along with 13 top five finishes in his last 14 tries.
Pederson, had to settle for third in his No. 24 entry for his third time he’s finished third in the last five races. He was fourth in the other two races.
Rasmus Lindh rounded out the top five in coming home one spot behind Malukas.