Strous Captures Firestone Lights Opener In Debut Race

St. Petersburg, FL – Although a newcomer to the Firestone Indy Lights Series, Junior Strous quickly made a name for himself be winning in his debut race. The Netherlands driver shot into the lead on the 23rd circuit and went on to win the first of two Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg races.

The 40-lap race was run on the 1.8-mile street course in St. Petersburg.

The enthusiastic winner drove the Shell V-Power Knaus HTP car entered by the Winners Circle Group.

“This victory means so much, especially since we are a new team,” the victor shouted in victory lane. “We had only one day of testing and the guys worked so hard to put it together. At the start, my tires weren’t warmed up yet, so I lost two positions and then managed to gain another three. I think I had a legendary take-over maneuver in turn one, with kudos of J. R. Hildebrand, who did some great drive to give me space and not crash.”

Hildebrand led the first 22 circuits and he was dejected to end up third when the checkered flag dropped. “We got out to a good lead at the beginning,” he noted. “After a couple of yellows, the car wasn’t pulling off the top end and I had a tough time getting into sixth gear. I knew I was a sitting duck.”

Second place went to 20-year old Jonathan Summerton in the Anderson Racing/Allied Interim Supply entry. “I stayed clean at the start and kept following Junior (Strous),” he said. “Every pass he made I just kept following him. I think I had a quicker car, but in the end, following him was a little rough. All in all, I’m quite happy with second place.”

Ana Beatriz took fourth with Jay Howard fifth.

Sixth through 10th were James Hinchcliffe, Daniel Herrington, James Davison, Mario Romancini and Charlie Kimball.

Twenty-seven cars started and 22 of them were running at the end.

The second Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the Lights cars takes place ahead of Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix at St. Petersburg.

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