The Freedom 100 was its usual thrill-ride for the Firestone Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship, though this year proved to be a little more intense than usual. Frantic, three-wide racing was the name of game from the outset and saw five different drivers swap the lead a record 20 times, obliterating the previous record of nine.
In the end, Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta held off Andretti Autosport stablemates Pato O’Ward and Dalton Kellett to take the victory, his first on an oval, and complete a sweep of the Indy Lights events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – he also won both races on the IMS Road Course earlier this month.
An elated Herta was beside himself after scoring a victory on the 2.5-mile oval.
“It’s so cool. I didn’t really realize how cool it was until I got to kiss the bricks. Both my dad’s IndyCar wins, I held off here because I didn’t deserve it. Now I finally deserved it. Damn, that’s so cool,” he declared in the post-race press conference.”
The final lead change came at the white flag, with Herta passing Santi Urrutia in a three-wide move that also saw O’Ward go to the outside of Urrutia and take second.
From there, Herta needed to fend off a late challenge from O’Ward and Dalton Kellett, and who worked his way up to third on the final lap.
Herta just barely managed to do so, winning by half of a car-width at the end.
In describing the final pass, Herta also revealed that he had no idea they were starting the final lap when it happened.
“I didn’t even know it was the white flag until I pulled out, the guy was waving the white flag. (I passed them on the last lap and held it,” he added.
Second place finisher O’Ward described that his No. 27 Dallara IL-15 got in the aero wash of Herta’s No. 98 machine exiting the final corner, which forced O’Ward to lift, and that proved to be all the difference in the run to the checkered flag.
“I tried to position myself the best I could for the last lap. But I just got the wash coming out of turn four. My car was facing directly towards the wall. I had to lift. Dalton was behind me. I got a nice little tow from Colton. It just wasn’t enough to get him at the line. We barely missed it by a wing,” O’Ward detailed.
Kellett rounded out the podium, followed by Urrutia, Ryan Norman, Aaron Telitz, Davey Hamilton Jr., and Victor Franzoni, who finished two laps down after a pair of unscheduled pit stops for tire problems.