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MRTI: Kyle Kaiser seeks to maintain momentum heading to Phoenix


Chris Jones

After one weekend in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, there’s a Kyle as the meat in the middle of a Felix sandwich.

While Felix Serralles and Felix Rosenqvist split the race wins and nearly split the points - 49 to 47 - coming out of St. Petersburg, the intermediary is Kyle Kaiser, who was the only driver to bag two podium finishes out of the weekend.

Kaiser now heads to Phoenix in his No. 18 Intervision/NetApp/Juniper Networks Dallara IL-15 Mazda for Juncos Racing with 48 points, on the strength of third and second place finishes, and seeking his first win to go along with his first pole at St. Petersburg.

“Absolutely that’s the goal, that, and modeling myself after my teammate (Spencer Pigot) last year,” the 20-year-old Californian told NBC Sports.

“He had a lot of podium finishes and that’s what you have to do in this field. You want the win, but I’m happy with consistency at the podium.”

Kaiser had a tough start in Saturday’s first race of the weekend and fell back behind the trio of Zach Veach, Serralles and Scott Hargrove, but recovered to third in the opening race.

With a better start in the second race, he was pushing Rosenqvist for the win best as he could and got clear of Veach for second.

“The goal today was to move forward,” he said. “I’d had a good plan. I was hoping Felix (Rosenqvist) would get a better start today. But you could tell he learned a lot on Saturday with what was probably his first rolling start in a while.

“I was glad he got a good start, and I tried to stay right behind him. I’ve watched all the starts. If you get the inside line, most of the time you’ll move up. So I’m happy with how I executed.”

Admittedly the Phoenix oval later this week presents a significant challenge by comparison. Kaiser ended with a best time of 22.1645 seconds, at 165.995 mph during the single day test in February. But he’s motivated to carry the momentum.

“Like I’ve told others, we have the confidence coming in,” Kaiser said. “It doesn’t translate to setup, but we’re entering from a position of strength. I’m super confident, and I love the ovals.”

Kaiser finished ninth (Milwaukee) and fourth (Iowa) on the two short ovals last year in Indy Lights.

Follow @TonyDiZinno