The two big winners on the day in the Firestone Indy Lights Series' penultimate race in Kentucky were the two contending for the lead. Stefan Wilson took his first oval win while Josef Newgarden confirmed the season-long championship.
A 20-lap side-by-side duel after the race's only caution witnessed Wilson on the outside of Newgarden, before the Englishman eventually prevailed. Wilson was then able to gap Newgarden and score the victory by 3.1 seconds.
“It's so amazing,” Wilson said. “It was just an awesome weekend all around. We got the pole yesterday, set the outright and two-lap records and got the victory. I was just so glad to have the battle with Josef, otherwise it would have been a lonely race out front.”
Newgarden clinched the title merely by starting, and paid tribute to Sam Schmidt Motorsports' lost colleague Chris Griffis, the team manager for SSM in Indy Lights who passed away unexpectedly last month.
“It's a big day for all of us at Sam Schmidt Motorsports, but it's obviously very bittersweet after the last couple weeks without Chris,” Newgarden said. “I'm so thankful for everything this year.”
Jorge Goncalvez, Brandon Wagner and Bryan Clauson completed both the top five and the finishing order, as the remaining eight starters failed to finish.
A first-lap accident took out five cars. Series debutant Jacob Wilson lost the rear end of his car from third on the grid, and spun up the track and collected four others. The race was over there for Esteban Guerrieri (Lucas car, LEFT), Gustavo Yacaman (on side), Anders Krohn and David Ostella (16).
“It just stepped around on me,” an apologetic Jacob Wilson said. “It bobbled over a bump, I went to get back on the throttle and couldn't handle it. I don't want to believe in rookie mistakes because I think we should all be able to handle these cars. I really hate to ruin everyone else's race like that.”
The other interesting note was a battle between Duarte Ferreira and Victor Carbone for third, but Ferreira made his car wider than normal throughout and was eventually stopped scoring. Carbone had pulled off before with an apparent puncture. Rusty Mitchell also retired, but was still classified eighth behind these two.