The crew struggled in qualifying, with Dalton Kellett, Kirkwood and JR Hildebrand solely 22nd, 23rd and 26th on the pace charts. Nevertheless, in second apply Kirkwood was 15th along with his race setup, and in a single day the crew made additional progress.
When the primary warning interval occurred on lap 12, reigning Indy Lights champion Kirkwood was working 21st so the crew elected to pit him, and his progress from the lap 16 restart was spectacular. Regardless of this being Kirkwood’s first race on a 1.5-mile oval, he took full benefit of his 10-lap more energizing tires, and sliced ahead.
He handed 9 automobiles in three laps, and by lap 28 he was ninth, having obtained round Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson and Penske’s Josef Newgarden, the pair of whom would go on to complete third and first respectively.
Kirkwood even led 5 laps, albeit off-strategy, however his second cease was expensive, as he slid barely lengthy by way of his pitbox. He resumed 17th and was as much as 14th when he tried to cross former Indy Lights teammate Devlin DeFrancesco.
When the latter’s Andretti automobile moved up barely from its trajectory coming into Flip four, Kirkwood adjusted his line in response, getting additional onto the much less grippy monitor floor. That, mixed with working within the soiled air of Graham Rahal who was working the identical excessive line to get round Helio Castroneves, was sufficient to ship Kirkwood uncontrolled and into the wall.
“Sadly, we ended our race a bit too early,” stated Kirkwood. “Making some passes occur, we got here by way of the sphere at one level from the mid-20s as much as the highest 10, we have been truly main for just a few laps off technique.
“So super-happy with the crew, the #14 automobile was simply wonderful.
“Sadly, we obtained caught out by a few of the sealer on the prime of the monitor. I used to be racing arduous with Devlin on a restart, and I simply ran out of monitor as a result of once you get into that PJ1, the automobile simply units crusing and that actually caught us out immediately.
Kyle Kirkwood, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet
Photograph by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images
“Tremendous-unfortunate however super-happy with our efficiency. Everybody knew we have been right here, we have been contenders at this race and we’ll simply carry that momentum – not from us crashing! – however the momentum from how nicely our tempo was into Lengthy Seashore.”
Hildebrand, who races the opposite ROKiT automobile on ovals this 12 months, regarded set for 12th till a front-wing downside brought on him to lose tempo within the closing phases and he clocked a 14th -place end.
“It was simply sort of a combat again day for us,” stated the 34-year-old Californian.
“We did not qualify nicely, however discovered what we have been battling with the automobile after the ultimate apply session; there was a bit little bit of an inconsistency with the setups with the way in which the automobile was put collectively.
“[In the race] the automobile felt fairly good, it felt racy, we have been in a position to make it go actually lengthy on gas and the automobile was beneath me for all of this.
“Past that we have been making an attempt to be opportunistic, make strikes the place we might, and outlast guys… We managed to do this and got here away with a reasonably stable end given the place we began.”
Kellett made seven pit stops within the crew’s third automobile making an attempt to open up the pit home windows, but it surely didn’t repay and he got here residence 17th.