By: Tim Doyle
March 28, 2021
The 2021 Coca Cola Bottling of Kokomo Indy Elite Series took on the challenge of the shortest circuit on the schedule for 160 laps around Richmond Raceway in Round #8, arguably one of the toughest ovals to conquer on the schedule.
29 cars entered which meant no one would be going home this week.
Philip Kraus put it on pole with a 16.022-second lap ahead of Christopher Demeritt, Ray Kingsbury in 3rd, Andreas Eik 4th and Bryan Carey rounding out the top 5.
One lap later, contact between the cars of Tanner Watkins and Eric Gonzalez would collect Dakota Dicienzo.
At the drop of the green, Kraus would get the jump only for Demeritt to have a huge moment in Turns 3 and 4 on the opening lap while somehow keeping it out of the wall, losing several positions as a result.
Watkins would continue while Gonzales and Dicienzo would be forced to retire. Eleven laps later Tony Showen would be knocked from the race after contact with David Adams.
The green would reappear on Lap 18 with R. Kingsbury leading over Kraus, Eik, Blocker and Carey. The top five would remain the same until the race’s third yellow would fly for Henry Bennett who would get punted entering Turn 1.
The field would take the opportunity to pit with the exception of Demeritt and 28th starting Andrew Kinsella.
Once green it was back under yellow quickly when Carey got loose in Turn 1 while also collecting an innocent Jason Brophy. Both driver’s night would be done.
On the restart, Demeritt would lead over Kinsella, Ray Kingsbury, Kraus and Eik. While battling Kinsella for 2nd, R. Kingsbury would make contact with the Turn 4 wall affecting the handling of his car and losing a handful of positions.
He would get a much-needed yellow though when Watkins would again be involved in an accident, this time with Liam Quinn while also collecting Robert Maleczka III.
Under the ensuing yellow the Top 10 would get a shakeup with several drivers pitting with others staying out.
When it was all said and done on the restart, Kraus would see himself back in front ahead of Andrew Wood, Eik, Blocker and Riley Thompson. Demeritt, who pitted from the lead, would line up 7th.
Meanwhile, Matt Kingsbury was working his way through the field from his 21st starting position, moving from 10th to 5th on the restart before the race’s 6th yellow would wave on Lap 90 for Watkins who was nursing a damaged car around the track. The wreck would collect a number of drivers, including the 2nd place car of Wood along with Adams and Charles Anti.
With the race’s final pit window open, the entire lead lap cars took the opportunity to pit for fuel and tires. Kraus would lead them off pit road ahead of Demeritt, Blocker, Eik and Matt Kingsbury. Back to green on Lap 95, Kraus would lead over Demeritt and the rest of the field.
M. Kingsbury would continue his charge through the field, moving into 3rd place on Lap 113 ahead of Eik with Demeritt keeping Kraus in range while battling through traffic.
Lap 133 would see the race’s 7th and final yellow come out when the 6th, 7th and 8th place cars respectively of Thompson, Trevor Greenfield and Joe Branch battling hard when Greenfield lost control off turn 2 leaving Branch nowhere to go knocking them both from contention.
Demeritt would choose to be the sole driver to stay out under caution, proving to be an unwise strategy call.
On the restart, first Kraus would go by Demeritt on Lap 141, then M Kingsbury a lap later, who would just as quickly return the position after a miraculous save in Turn 1, dropping him back to 5h place behind Demeritt, Blocker and Eik.
Kraus would be able to stretch out to a comfortable lead while Demeritt was battling hard for 2nd.
Lap 154 saw Demeritt lose it off turn 2 while also managing not to bring out a yellow. Kraus would extend his lead to 3.8 seconds over Blocker at the checkers with M Kingsbury coming home 3rd.
Eik and Kinsella would round out the top five. Finishing in 6th was Thompson over R Kingsbury, AJ Burton in 8th, while Quinn and Aaron Roufs rounded out the top 10.
Field size- 29
Cautions- 7 Caution laps- 34
Lead Changes- 5
Fastest lap- 16.271: Philip Kraus
Cars on the lead lap- 6
Polesitter- Philip Kraus- 16.022
On April 11, the Coca Cola Bottling of Kokomo Indy Elite Series will contest their Indianapolis 500. Coverage will begin at 7:15 p.m. Eastern Time.
Header Image By Tim Doyle