By: Tim Doyle
March 21, 2021
Round #7 of the 2021 Coca Cola Bottling of Kokomo Indy Elite Series headed to Chicagoland Speedway for the SymTV 225.
It was the fifth oval on the schedule with a road and street circuit already completed.
36 cars signed in to make the race this week, meaning three drivers would be forced to sit out.
Those drivers were Marshall Stanley, Flinn Lazier and shockingly Chris Demeritt, who sits 3rd in points after making an uncharacteristic move coming to the line on his second qualifying lap and catching the apron, disallowing his time.
Henry Bennett would grab the pole with a 25.165-second lap over Andrew Kinsella with Adam Dock 3rd, Adam Blocker in 4th and Tony Showen rounding out the Top5.
Before the start of the race several drivers would be moved to the rear of the field for prior race penalties. Outside polesitter Kinsella, AJ Musselman and Dan Ensch all had to serve end of the longest line penalties.
Once underway, Bennett would lead the first 19 laps before Blocker would make the move for the lead with the rest of the field close behind.
The Top 20 would remain within two seconds of each other while Kinsella was up to 21st, passing 10 cars. Evan Adams would be the first car to retire when he made contact with Matt Kingsbury on Lap 12.
Aaron Roufs would suffer the same fate when he made contact with Bryan Carey while racing three wide on Lap 31.
Green flag stops started on Lap 40 with everyone pitting over the next five laps until one of the last few drivers to hit pit road brought out a yellow when AJ Burton spun on his entry.
Kinsella and Showen were able to take advantage of the timing of the yellow to move into 1st and 2nd only to receive end of line penalties for unsafe pit exit, once again moving Kinsella to the rear of the field.
Matt Pawelski, who started 20th, would lead the field back to green with M Kingsbury 2nd, Burton 3rd, Matt Hollibaugh in 4th and Tanner Watkins in 5th.
Again the field would remain close with tight battles all over the track.
Second round of pit stops would start on Lap 78 with the rest of the field pitting each lap until Lap 92 when yet again an untimely yellow flew during green flag stops with Kinsella being in the right place at the right time yet another time, the lead!
Out in front, Kinsella would lead the field over Showen, M Kingsbury, Ray Kingsbury and Pawelski. With a slew of lapped cars mixed in who were fighting for a lap back, the racing was intense.
One of those taking advantage of it and getting back on the lead lap was Jason Brophy who managed to get ahead of Kinsella just before the race’s third yellow would fly when the car of Adam Dock would find the wall, collecting Andrew Wood and Andreas Eik. All three would retire from the race.
The field would pit on Lap 104 setting up a possible fuel mileage race to the end.
Kinsella would lead the field off pit road ahead of Showen, Matt Kingsbury, Pawelski and Ray Kingsbury. Back underway on lap 106, Pawelski would rocket from his 4th position to take the lead off of Turn 4 on the following lap.
On Lap 113, Ray Kingsbury would put his IR18 out front until the race saw it’s first major incident on Lap 115 when several cars would get collected in an incident triggered when the 7th place car of Burton moved down on the car of Philip Kraus at the start/finish line.
The wreck would involve polesitter Bennett, along with five other cars. Bennett, Kraus, Burton, AJ Musselman and Mike Kitchel would all be forced to retire.
Under the yellow most of the front runners stayed out with the exception of Showen, in 4th, and 8th place on back.
The green would reappear on Lap 119 and remain out until Lap 136 when the 5th place car of Hollibaugh, Matt Kingsbury and Kinsella would go three wide off Turn 2 and contact would be made between Matt Kingsbury and Hollibaugh while Riley Thompson would get rear ended trying to avoid the wreck. All three would retire.
With everyone staying out, the race would see a 10 lap shootout with Pawelski, R Kingsbury, Kinsella, Brophy (now up to 4th after being a lap down) and Stofer leading the way.
The green flag racing would be short-lived when first Kinsella would crowd Brophy into the wall entering Turn 3 while four wide on Lap 142, the yellow wouldn’t fly until just past the start/finish line when Kinsella again would make contact with 2nd place Ray Kingsbury, ending his great run.
The race would go green once more with just three laps remaining and it was a dogfight between heavyweights Pawelski, Kinsella and Blocker.
Kinsella made his way past Paweslki with a thrilling outside move entering turn 1 on lap 149 while 4th place Showen was putting heavy pressure on Blocker.
It came down to the last corner of the lap with the trio of Kinsella, Pawelski and Blocker with Pawelski able to return the favor on Kinsella with an outside pass coming to the line, albeit a little contact, to grab the win!
Field size- 33
Cautions- 6 Caution laps- 25
Lead Changes- 17
Fastest lap- 24.634: Matt Hollibaugh
Cars on the lead lap- 13
Polesitter- Henry Bennett- 25.165
Next week, the 2021 Coca Cola Bottling of Kokomo Indy Elite Series will head to Richmond Raceway. Coverage from the virtual 3/4-mile short track will begin at 7:15 p.m. Eastern Time.
Header Image By Tim Doyle/iRacing.com