AVONDALE, Ariz. – The 2016 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season gets better by the day for Kyle Kaiser.
The 20-year-old Californian led every lap of today’s 90-lap race at Phoenix International Raceway to collect his first Indy Lights win in his 19th series start. It comes a day after Kaiser won the pole and three weeks after he opened the season with back-to-back podium finishes on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Kaiser, driving the No. 18 Juncos Racing Dallara IL-15, got the drop on Carlin’s Ed Jones at the green flag and began to set sail, pulling away steadily each lap. A yellow flag on Lap 34 for Heamin Choi’s spin briefly slowed the field, but once the race restarted, Kaiser used the clean air ahead to his advantage and cruised to the win by 1.0088 seconds over Jones.
“I was pretty nervous, actually, because you never know with these races,” Kaiser said. “Anything can happen. I’ve got to thank Mazda and Cooper Tires for giving me a good car throughout the race. … This car was just perfect from start to finish. I was a little worried but once the checkered came by, now I can celebrate.”
The win also pushed Kaiser into the season points lead as the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development series heads to Barber Motorsports Park in three weeks. And Kaiser is exuding confidence with the Juncos team that captured the Indy Lights title in 2015 with Spencer Pigot.
“I have a lot of confidence going to every race weekend this year,” Kaiser said. “I feel like I have a different mindset this year and, after seeing Spencer do well at a lot of tracks last year, I’ve come in with that same mindset this year and try to follow what he did. I think it’s working out pretty well so far.”
RC Enerson of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian rounded out the podium in third place. Belardi Auto Racing’s Zach Veach, who crashed in practice April 1 and was unable to qualify, started last in the 16-car grid, muscled past five cars in the opening two laps and sifted his way through the field to finish in eighth.