By: Tim Doyle
January 17, 2021
Round 2 of the 2021 Coca Cola Bottling Company of Kokomo Indy Elite Series headed to the desert for the Indycar1909.com 150 at Phoenix Raceway.
After an exciting round one from Homestead, FL, drivers were looking to continue their momentum at the tricky one mile tri oval.
With a late evening start, the drivers had to battle not only the other drivers but changing track conditons as the race wore on. Opening round winner Christopher Demeritt was hoping to continue his winning ways with other series favorites like Adam Blocker and Philip Kraus.
In qualifying, Kraus was able to backup his practice speeds and grab the pole with a blazing 19.605 second lap. Just .009 seconds off of Kraus was Demeritt in 2nd place. Rounding out the top five were Matt Kingsbury, Andreas Eik and Ray Kingsbury.
With 35 competitors attempting to qualify for the 33 car field, two drivers, Don Hunter and Christopher Mitrision were forced to miss out due to not posting a qualifying time in a field separated by just 1.041 seconds.
It was Kraus at the drop of the green flag, leading the race over Demeritt and Eik while 3rd place starter M Kingsbury had to serve an end of line penalty from Homestead. On lap 16, 6th starting Blocker would take 3rd from Eik, some three seconds behind the Krauss/Demeritt duo.
Kraus would lead with Demeritt hot on his heels and Blocker closing the gap to within a second of the leaders while battling through lapped trafic before the race’s first yellow would wave on lap 36 for an incident involving Dan Ensch and Chris Cahoe.
Both drivers would continue. While most of the drivers pitted under the yellow, several drivers who were caught a lap down were able to get their lap back and remain on the lead lap upon returning to green.
Kraus would lead all drivers off pit road with Blocker in 2nd after beating Demeritt off pit road, followed by Eik and 10th place starter, Cahoe rounding out the top 5. Lap 41 would see the field return to green flag conditions and once again Krauss would show the way.
It wouldn’t take long for Kraus to enter lapped traffic on lap 54 while Blocker and Demeritt stayed right on his gearbox.
Unfortunately for race-long leader Kraus, lapped traffic would kock him from the race on lap 60, ending a dominant performance when he and Henry Bennett came together on the front stretch with Blocker and Demeritt having to take evasive action to avoid the accident.
With pit road open again under yellow, the lead lap cars took the opportunity to pit for fresh tires and fuel. 22 cars remained on the lead lap at this point while a handful of others took the wave around to place them back on the lead lap. The running order was Blocker, Demeritt, Eik, Cahoe and Anrew Kinsella in 5th who would get around Cahoe for 4th on the restart.
On lap 92 the race would see its third yellow wave when a mid-pack incident between Matt Kingsbury and Tony Showen off turn 4 with Joe Branch narrowly avoiding the two. Kingsbury would be forced to retire from the event while Showen would be able to continue, albeit a lap down.
The entire field would pit under yellow setting up a 53 lap sprint to the finish. The running order on the restart was Blocker, Demeritt, Kinsella, Eik and Cahoe.
Just as previously in the race, the lead duo of Blocker and Demeritt would gap the field to race among themselves before another yellow would fly on lap 104 for the damaged car of Adam Dock who stopped in turn 1 after contact with Cahoe, who had dropped to 11th shortly after the restart after making contact with Bryan Carey.
The leaders would stay out under this yellow with a number of drivers from 10th on back pitting for fresh tires. Lap 108 would see the green flag back out and once again it would be a battle royale between Blocker and Demeritt as they raced through lapped traffic.
On lap 119, Demeritt was able to make his move past Blocker for the lead only to make contact with Showen entering turn 1 on lap 120, this time ending Showen’s race. Blocker tried to race passed but race control was having none of it!
Just as what happened at Homestead a week prior, late race pit stratgey would come into play as Blocker and others made a surpising stop under this yellow with Demeritt and a whole host of cars, both lead lap and lapped cars staying out. This would setup a frantic restart with cars from various laps all mixed together.
Demeritt would lead Eik in 2nd on the lap 124 restart with 23rd starting Joe Branch in 3rd, his teammate and 28th starting Mike Kitchel and Tanner Watkins from 25th rounding out the top 5. Blocker and the others that pitted were mired back in 9th place with 21 cars still on the lead lap. Back to green it wouldn’t take long for Blocker to weave his way back to 2nd place, taking the spot from Eik on lap 134.
Kinsella, who pitted with Blocker, was making his way forward as well, getting back to 4th place. With just 2 laps to go, Blocker had gotten to within a second of leader Demeritt before the race’s 6th and final yellow would wave after a wild incident coming out of turn 4 that saw several cars get collected. While battling for 14th position, Oisin Walsh would get into the back of Watkins with a total of seven cars getting involved.
While all of this was going on, the top 2 of Demeritt and Blocker arrived on the scene only to see Blocker squeak by after Demeritt slowed to avoid hitting others. While the race finished with Blocker ahead, race control was aboe to sort it correctly and give Demeritt his second consecutive win of the season.
Laps completed- 150 laps Cautions- 6 Caution laps- 21 Lead changes- 3
Next week will be an off week for the Coca Cola of Kokomo Elite IndyCar Series. On January 31, the series will tackle its first road course of 2021 at Barber Motorsports Park. The green flag will wave at approximately 7:15.
Editor’s Note: Thank’ You to Indy Elite Series for allowing IndyCar1909.com the opportunity to sponsor Sunday night’s race.
Header Image By Tim Doyle/iRacing.com