By: Tim Doyle
July 20, 2021
The 2021 Coca Cola Bottling of Kokomo Indy Elite Series visited Long Beach for the Raze Energy Long Beach GP.
24 cars signed in for the 51-lap affair around the tight and twisty strret course. In qualifying, it was Philip Kraus grabbing pole with a 1:05.558 followed by Adam Blocker (1:05.382) and Austin Espitee (1:05.577) rounding out the top 3.
Kraus led the field to green with Espitee taking a look inside before Blocker powered ahead to take the 2nd position entering turn 1.
Mid pack, contact was made between Jacob Oster and Chris Stofer, creating a log jam with Andrew Wood and Riley Thompson stopping in the founatin turn which drew the race’s first yellow. All drivers were able to continue on, with several taking the chance to pit for tires and fuel.
On the Lap 4 restart, Kraus was once again able to lead the field into to turn 1. This time it was a clean getwway for the field. Lap 5 saw Flinn Lazier lose it under braking entering turn 1 bringing his day to a premature end. Matt Hollibaugh would be the next driver to retire on Lap 7 when he would clip the Turn 7 tire barrier. He too would be done.
At the third way mark, Kraus still lead by 2+ seconds over Blocker with Espitee another 2.5 seconds back. Bryan Carey and Henry Bennett rounded out the Top 5. Meanwhile, a number of drivers had issues and were in the pits for repairs including Stofer, Joe Branch and Oster.
The leaders started pitting on Lap 22 with Kraus giving up the lead to Blocker as Espitee, Carey and Bennett relinquished their Top 5 positions.
On pit exit, Bennett would have trouble on cold tires spinning, but not touching anything. One lap later Blocker would pit looking to gain a spot on Kraus, but Kraus would be able to maintain his lead. Even with his spin, Bennett would still be in 5th.
At the halfway point, the Top 5 remained the same with the exception of Carey up to 3rd and Espitee back to 4th. Wood, Liam Quinn, Josh Clogg, David Adams and Ray Kingsvury would round out the Top 10, all still on the lead lap. 17 cars would still be running, sans various laps down.
While running 4th on Lap 35, 4th place-running Espitee would find the tire barrier and tow for repairs, losing two laps in the process.
Race leader Kraus would pit for the final time on Lap 43. Blocker would again pit one lap later, this time gaining a lot of time on Kraus, coming out just behind. With five laps to go, Blocker would trail by just 1.5 seconds.
With two laps, Blocker was putting the presuure on Kraus but couldn’t close enough to force a move. Kraus would cross the finish line just .66 of a second ahead of Blocker.
Carey would grab the remaining podium spot with Bennett and Quinn rounding out the top 5. Adams would come home 6th after starting 15th ahead of Clogg, Wood, Kingsbury and Riley Thompson.
In two weeks on Sunday, August 1, the 2021 Coca Cola Bottling of Kokomo Indy Elite Series goes to the World Wide Technology Raceway for 140 laps around the oval.
Lead Changes- 4
Fastest lap- 1:06.358: Philip Kraus
Cars on the lead lap- 4
Polesitter- Philip Kraus 1:05.307
Header Image By Tim Doyle/iRacing.com