James Davison scored an unconventional win in last year's Firestone Indy Lights race at Mid-Ohio, gaining the victory when race leader Jonny Reid peeled onto pit road during the final lap under caution. On Sunday, the Australian went ahead and...
James Davison scored an unconventional win in last year's Firestone Indy Lights race at Mid-Ohio, gaining the victory when race leader Jonny Reid peeled onto pit road during the final lap under caution.
On Sunday, the Australian went ahead and earned a win in normal conditions, leading flag-to-flag from pole for his first win of the season. The Vision Racing driver has added consistency to his repertoire in his second season, with top ten finishes in all bar one event this season, and now has a win.
"Just a really nice race, it came quite easy to me," Davison said. "I pulled away at the start and it was like deja vu of Watkins Glen! I was kind of surprised when I didn't see JR (Hildebrand) behind me. When I saw James (Hinchcliffe) there, coming up, I stepped back on it and matched his lap times. A really nice race, and great to finally get it done."
As it was in qualifying, it was a James 1-2 with Davison leading James Hinchcliffe. "Hinch" had four prior podium finishes this season, all third-place results, so it was the Canadian's best result of the season.
"It's really good to break the third-place duck," Hinchcliffe said. "It is a tough track to pass on, a bit processional. It took tires 2-3 laps longer to rubber in. I was sort of catching James, and I think early on we were a match for him. I just did 14.7 after 14.7 and tried everything in the book and watched him pull away."
Hinchcliffe closed the gap to Davison by as little as eight tenths of a second in the first half of the race, but could go no further. With passing limited on the 2.258-mile road course, the only opportunity to overtake was on restarts.
There were two in this race. The first came after the initial start was waved off, when Davison got a large jump off the Keyhole with the rest of the field out of alignment. There was also contact about halfway through the 40-lap race, when Wade Cunningham collided with Mario Romancini into turn four.
Davison got a great jump on the second restart and Hinchcliffe was powerless to stop him. "He had a great restart," Hinchcliffe said. "When you're the guy in front you're not fighting grip, but when you're behind you're losing downforce."
Behind them series championship leader JR Hildebrand settled into cruise mode behind Hinchcliffe after an unintended adventure through turn one. Hildebrand went wide into the corner, and lost the balance of the car, but saved it without further incident.
"I was able to hang with Hinch here for a bit," Hildebrand said. "I flew off the road at turn one, and at that point I decided discretion would be the better part of valor. We'll take the points and head to the home track (Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA) in a couple weeks."
In his second start of the season for Bryan Herta Autosport, Felipe Guimaraes earned his second top-five result. The Brazilian who has raced for his national team in A1GP came home fourth after a clean race. Panther Racing's Martin Plowman completed the top five, equaling his best result of the season set at Kansas. It's his best finish on a road or street circuit this season.
Cunningham and Romancini were two of the top six in points to encounter problems, the other was Hildebrand's teammate at AFS/Andretti Green Racing Sebastian Saavedra. The Colombian ran wide through Thunder Valley and did a bit of grass-cutting. He was mired in 18th by the flag.
Unofficial points have Hildebrand in prime position to capture the year's championship, on 420 markers. Saavedra is second but 63 points back, with Davison up three spots to third, Cunningham and Hinchcliffe in the top five. Romancini slipped to sixth with his fifth consecutive finish outside the top-five.
The series resumes for its final road course event of the season at Hildebrand's home track, Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., in two weeks.