INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Matheus Leist never deviated from his line during the Freedom 100 on Friday.
There was never any need.
After qualifying on the pole for the Indy Lights race, the 18-year-old Brazilian led all 40 laps during Carb Day festivities leading up to the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, allowing him to win the premier race for up-and-coming drivers in his first shot at an oval.
''The car was just perfect throughout the whole race,'' Leist said, ''and we kept it in front.''
The only time Leist was under pressure came seven laps from the finish, when Aaron Telitz tried to go around him on the outside. Telitz couldn't pull off the pass and Leist pulled away, putting enough time between him and the rest of the field that the outcome was never in question.
Telitz briefly dropped to third after his failed pass, but the Pro Mazda champion made a move past Dalton Kellett on the front stretch of the final lap to win the race for second.
''I thought he would overtake me, actually,'' Leist said, ''and he didn't manage to do it. I was just trying to keep relaxed and do my job. I just managed to stay in front of him.''
Part of the problem for Telitz was his qualifying effort. He started the race in sixth, forcing him to use more downforce so that he could move through the field. Leist started on the pole and could trim his car out more, giving him more speed in open air.
''I was sizing up Matheus most of the race. I tried to see if I could beat him back to the line by being in the outside line, but I lost a lot of momentum,'' Telitz said. ''When I'd pull out of the draft to get by Matheus, my car would sort of stall out. He just had more speed in a straight line.''
Kellett finished third after making contact with his Andretti Autosport teammate Colton Herta, twice a winner this season, while battling for position on the first lap. Herta's car wound up spinning and collided with Ryan Norman, taking them both out of the race.
''I didn't see much of a replay so I can't say what exactly happened,'' Kellett said. ''From my point of view, we were going side-by-side and I picked up some understeer. It was pretty light contact.''
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