Leist sets Indy Lights track record to win Freedom 100 pole

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INDIANAPOLIS – Matheus Leist set an Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires track record in qualifying today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a two-lap average of 199.198 mph that puts him at the front of the 14-car field for Friday’s Freedom 100.

Driving the No. 26 TMA Mazda/Dallara IL-15 for Carlin, Leist broke the two-lap record set in qualifying two years ago by Ethan Ringel (197.684 mph). Leist’s first lap on the run, 199.268 mph, also established the single-lap standard on the 2.5-mile oval previously set in last year’s race by Neil Alberico (198.008).

“It feels amazing,” said Leist, the 18-year-old Brazilian who won the British Formula 3 championship in 2016. “It was my first oval qualifying and it’s my first oval race as well. I’m very happy. The team gave me a very nice car and I felt confident driving it. My first pole and first pole on an oval and my first time ever on an oval. Quite happy for this.”

“Now I have my first pole. Hopefully tomorrow I can get my first win.”  

Practice and qualifying were delayed until late afternoon by persistent morning rain, Leist posted a lap of 201.032 mph in practice, but only laps recorded in qualifying or a race are considered official.

Colton Herta qualified second in the No. 98 Deltro Energy Mazda for Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, with a two-lap average of 198.648 mph. Qualifying in the second row were Andretti Autosport teammates Dalton Kellett (198.011) and Ryan Norman (197.697). All four of the top qualifiers exceeded Ringel’s former track record.

Kyle Kaiser, the current Indy Lights points leader for Juncos Racing, qualified 11th.

The 15th annual Freedom 100 starts at 12:30 p.m. ET Friday and airs live on NBCSN.

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