Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward led flag-to-flag in Iowa’s Indy Lights race, while the race-long battle behind between teammate Colton Herta and Belardi Auto Racing’s Santi Urrutia was what kept the crowd’s attention.
From the moment the green fell, O’Ward jumped into an immediate lead as Herta in the Andretti Steinbrenner machine dropped to third behind the very fast-starting Urrutia, chased by two more Andretti cars of Ryan Norman and Dalton Kellett, Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni and the second Belardi machine of Aaron Telitz.
At quarter distance in this 100-lap race, O’Ward had eked his advantage to 1.35sec while Herta was trying to stay within half a second of Urrutia while holding off Norman. There were only seven cars in the race but at least they were covered by just five seconds.
By half-distance, that spread was up to seven seconds, largely as a result of the man in front, O’Ward, pulling his lead over Urrutia to 3.6sec. The Belardi driver was occasionally under pressure from Herta, but the American had so far been unable to find a way past the Uruguayan, despite varying his lines and the locations of his attacks.
From Lap 70, Urrutia started losing time to the leader at a greater rate as the line he took had to become defensive in order to keep Herta behind. Urrutia earned a reprieve on Lap 74 when Herta dived low and then caught the wake of the Belardi car and washed up the track, but it took only five laps for Herta to close back in and renew his attack.
Finally with seven laps to go, Herta dived down the inside entering Turn 3 and somehow had enough momentum and kept it tidy enough to move up the race track without threatening Urrutia. His rival tried to counter punch into Turn 1 but it was a token gesture and he was too far back.
O’Ward backed off and had no problem in reeling off the final laps 2.826sec ahead of Herta who was almost an identical distance ahead of Urrutia at the 100-lap mark. Norman, Kellett, Franzoni and Telitz completed the list of finishers, all within 10sec of the winner.
O’Ward’s fourth win of the season clawed him up to just eight points behind Herta, who also has four wins.