David Malukas in victory lane at Portland Int'l Raceway. (Gavin Baker Photo)
David Malukas in victory lane at Portland Int'l Raceway. (Gavin Baker Photo)

Malukas Pads Indy Lights Point Lead

PORTLAND, Ore. – David Malukas, driving for HMD Motorsports, romped to his seventh win of the season – and third in a row – under picture perfect skies at Portland Int’l Raceway of the Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Portland doubleheader Saturday.

Malukas, who will celebrate his 20th birthday in just less than two weeks, finished over 5.4 seconds clear of championship rival Kyle Kirkwood, extending his lead from three points to 10 in a tight battle with five races remaining.

Kirkwood, of Andretti Autosport, managed significant damage control in the point standings after rising from fifth on the grid to second. He also earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award for most positions gained.

Linus Lundqvist rounded out the top three, notching his first podium since round eight in Detroit.

Malukas secured his series-leading fifth Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season in qualifying on Friday as his stablemates at HMD Motorsports and Global Racing Group w/ HMD Motorsports locked out the front two rows of the grid with Lundqvist, Benjamin Pedersen and Manuel Sulaiman – who impressed in his first-ever Indy Lights qualifying session after moving up from the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires this weekend.

The command was delayed approximately 10 minutes due to a clean-up of hydraulic fluid in turn 12. After a chaotic start which saw several cars short-cutting the track in the Shelton Chicane turns one, two, three complex, the grid was reset and it was hammer down for Malukas, who was followed by his teammates around the 1.964-mile, 12-turn road course for the first six laps.

On lap seven of the 30-lap feature, Kirkwood found his way around Sulaiman and a slight bobble by Pedersen set up the two-time Road to Indy champion for a charge to the front after moving into third. Closely trailing Lundqvist for several laps, Kirkwood made his move with an outside pass in Turns One-Two, but by then Malukas had already eked out a 5.6 second lead.

Pedersen, fresh off of dual podiums in the last event at World Wide Technology, finished fourth followed by Andretti Autosport’s Robert Megennis in fifth. Newcomers Sulaiman and Rasmus Lindh rounded out the top seven respectively on their series debuts.

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