By: Tim Doyle
January 31, 2021
Barber Motorsports Park was the location for The Coca Cola Grand Prix of Alabama 3rd round of the 2021 Coca Cola Bottling Company of Kokomo Indy Elite Series.
Featuring the first road course of the season, the tricky 2.38 mile twisty and hilly road course presented a challenge for many of the competitors.
Christopher Demeritt was looking to capitalize on his two wins to kick off the series while 2nd place driver, Adam Blocker was a no-show.
Andreas Eik, 3rd place in points, was looking for any misfortune to help catipulte himself into 2nd or 1st.
With a full field of 33 starters, qualifying didn’t have the importance of the prior two races, but track position would be key.
Adam Crane laid down a 105.964 second lap, besting an impresive effort by Ray Kingsbury just over four tenths behind with Eik in 3rd. Bryan Carey was 4th and another surprising qualifying effort was put in by Chad Simpson in 5th place.
There were three end of longest line penalties given out for infracticons at Phoenix to Philip Kraus, Henry Bennett and Chris Cahoe. The start of the race went off without issue, but the 2nd lap of the race saw several incidents among competitors, mostly drivers rear ending others.
By the time it was over, a total of six drivers would retire from the race. Meanwhile, up front the trio of Crane, Kingsbury and Eik would rage war for the entire first fuel run, never more than a second apart!
That was until Kingsbury and Eik made their first pit stops on lap 20 with Crane making stretching his first stop to Lap 22, potentially making it a one-stop race.
As Crane rejoined the field after his mid-race stop, Kingsbury now led over Eik who was once again right on his heels and Crane back to 3rd. Krauss and Bennett were making their way into the Top 10 at this time as well.
Kingsbury would pit again just seven laps later as part of his two stop strategy handing the lead for the first time to Eik who would pace the field until his second pit stop on Lap 39.
Crane recaptured the lead with his fuel saving strategy that would payoff as he would go onto win over Kingsbury and Eik by nearly 12 seconds.
Working his way back up into 4th place after starting at the rear was Krauss while Austin Espitee came from 13th on the grid to round out the top five.
Bennett, Andrew Kinsella, Andrew Wood, Ryan Murray and Simpson would backup his impressive qualifying effort to complete the Top 10.
With his 3rd consecutive 3rd place finish, Eik puts himself atop the points standings after the first three rounds.
The Coca Cola Bottling Company of Kokomo Indy Elite Series returns to action Sunday, February 21 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Header Image By Tim Doyle/iRacing.com