Swerving left and right down the front stretch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, screaming into his radio, Danial Frost’s perseverance was about to pay off with the checkered flag displayed.
After finishing second three times in 2021, the Singapore native claimed his first career Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires victory at the IMS road course Friday evening in Race One of the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He led 27 of the 35 laps in the in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car.
“I can’t even speak at the moment for the result I just got,” Frost said while trying to catch his breath in Victory Lane. “I’ve been working so hard to get to it. Finally getting that number one victory, it means a lot to me. I thank my team, I thank my sponsors, I thank everyone for this amazing result today.”
Hunter McElrea finished second, 1.5449 seconds behind Frost, in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport entry. His teammate, Sting Ray Robb, placed third in the No. 2 Andretti Autosport car.
Frost’s path to victory came with the challenge of managing the eventful first seven laps.
The first lap ran under caution due to polesitter Linus Lundqvist and outside polesitter McElrea bringing the field to the green too slow. Then, on their second attempt, Lundqvist launched ahead of the 14-car field, while others behind him darted two- and three-wide before diving into Turn 1. Those included Christian Rasmussen, who darted to the outside of McElrea and made the pass for second. Then, he set his sights on Lundqvist.
His quest for the lead only took a lap and a half as he was able to hunt down Lundqvist and make the pass for the lead in Turn 7. The next two laps saw the top-four cars – Rasmussen, Lundqvist, McElrea and Frost – staying within a car length of each other.
Then, on Lap 5, Lundqvist tried to slide back underneath Rasmussen for the lead into Turn 1 but the two made contact at the apex, causing Rasmussen to spin and damage both cars. The incident brought out the only full-course caution of the race and handed McElrea and Frost the top two spots for the restart.
“It was pretty hectic at the start,” Frost said. “I saw the front two guys battling hard, and I think it was inevitable that was going to happen.”
When the race restarted on Lap 8, McElrea pulled ahead with the lead, but Frost kept him within reach. The next time around, Frost built enough of a run to maneuver around McElrea for the lead into Turn 1.
Benjamin Pedersen’s potential podium hopes vanished on Lap 12 when Matthew Brabham locked his brakes on his trajectory into Turn 1 and ran into the side of Pedersen, causing him to spin in the grass. That allowed Robb to move into third, where he would end up finishing for the second straight race.
While the top three cruised to the podium, Rasmussen and Lundqvist put on a show to charge their way through the field to end the race in fourth and fifth, respectively. Lundqvist will again have the best seat in the house to try and win again at Indianapolis when he starts from the pole of Saturday’s Indy Lights race.
Frost will start sixth in Race 2, but until then he’s soaking in his first victory.
“It’s Indy; it’s the home of racing,” Frost said. “It’s very special to get this win here. I always dreamed of winning here. I’ve been close before but never P1. It’s always a great feeling.”
The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Saturday afternoon for Race 2 of the doubleheader weekend. The race will be televised live at 1:15 p.m. (ET) on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
|2||2||27||McElrea, Hunter (R)||35||107.821||Running|
|3||6||2||Robb, Sting Ray||35||107.752||Running|
|4||3||28||Rasmussen, Christian (R)||35||107.534||Running|
|8||9||51||Abel, Jacob (R)||35||106.890||Running|
|9||10||99||Francis Jr., Ernie (R)||35||106.796||Running|
|12||13||21||Simpson, Kyffin (R)||35||106.595||Running|
|13||12||12||Roe, James (R)||35||106.386||Running|