Mario Romancini won the Homestead-Miami 100, crossing the finish line 0.0057 of a second ahead of JR Hildebrand in the second closest finish in Indy Lights Series history. For Romancini, who made his oval debut at Kansas Speedway in April where he...
Mario Romancini won the Homestead-Miami 100, crossing the finish line 0.0057 of a second ahead of JR Hildebrand in the second closest finish in Indy Lights Series history. For Romancini, who made his oval debut at Kansas Speedway in April where he finished third, it was his second victory. Romancini won at Milwaukee in his third start on an oval track.
Hildebrand was able to lead 32 of the 67 laps with Romancini making his final bid for the lead as the pair raced into the last two corners.
"With ten laps to go I was talking with my engineer," seeking advice on how to complete the pass, said Romancini. "I had tried for several laps to get by."
After taking the checkered flag, Romancini asked his engineer who won. "He was screaming, so then I knew."
Hildebrand started seventh but within five laps found himself in an intense battle for the lead. Racing three wide with Wade Cunningham and polesitter James Davison, Hildebrand decided to slot back into a two by two formation. "I thought I could drop back and push one of those guys ahead, but as soon as I dropped back into the second row, someone made that row three wide," Hildebrand reported.
Hildebrand, who clinched the championship at the penultimate round at Chicagoland Speedway, decided it was every man for him and set out to score his first oval victory this season. "We haven't won on an oval this year," said Hildebrand, "we finished second three times and I'm not happy about that."
Despite leading nearly half the laps, Hildebrand didn't think he had the car to stay out front. "I was having trouble running in clean air and my gut feeling was that he (Romancini) didn't have to work as hard."
Sebastian Saavedra had a mechanical problem in qualifying and had to start at the rear of the field. He picked up 13 positions to finish third, missing second place in the championship by a single point. Davison, who earned a single point for qualifying on the pole, finished second in the championship.
"Tonight was, for sure, the hardest race of the season," said Saavedra. "With my points standing being decided tonight, there was more pressure involved than normal. I think we had some tough luck this morning with qualifying, but we kept calm and knew that we had a car that could make it to the front. The whole #27 crew did a great job and I'm happy for third place and for my teammate's championship win."
Mike Potekhen started sixth and moved up two spots to finish fourth, a season best. Davison and Cunningham faded to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, followed by the Panther cars of Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann. Logan Gomez and Andrew Prendeville rounded out the top ten.
The race was slowed three times for three single car incidents involving drivers Brandon Wagner (lap 5), Gustavo Yacaman (lap 48) and Rodrigo Barbosa (lap 55).