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Strous takes St Pete Lights win.

Dutch rookie Junior Strous became the seventh driver to win on his first Firestone Indy Lights debut, taking the chequered flag in the first leg of the Grand Prix of St Petersburg double-header weekend.

Starting from second on the grid - decided for the first time in Indy Lights history by two parallel qualifying groups - Strous overcame polewinner JR Hildebrand to win by 0.7205secs from fellow rookie Jonathan Summerton after 40 laps of the sinuous 1.8-mile St Petersburg street circuit.

The aptly-mounted Winners Circle Group driver had to bide his time in second for the first 22 laps, but passed Hildebrand on a lap 23 restart and led the final 18 tours to take the win.

“This victory means so much, especially since we are a new team," Strous admitted, "We only had one day of testing, and the guys worked so hard to get this together. It was a tough race, and we had a not so good start. The tyres weren't warmed up, so I lost two positions off the start and then managed to gain another three. I also think I had a legendary take-over manoeuvre in turn one, which kudos to JR Hildebrand, who did some great driving to give the space and not crash.”

Summerton, too, accounted for Hildebrand, having tagged on to the rear of Strous' orange-and-white machine, but admitted that his day could have been tougher had others kept their heads.

“I stayed clean on the start and just paid attention to where everyone was going - it was chaos and you could see it coming," the RLR/Andersen pilot admitted, "Then I basically kept following Junior. Each pass he made, I just kept following him - it was really good. I think we had a quicker car but, in the end, following him was a little rough, as I lost some of the downforce on the car.”

Hildebrand also lost a position to the charging Ana Beatriz, but recovered to finish on the podium in his first race for the AFS/Andretti Green squad.

“We got out to a good lead at the beginning but a couple of yellows came out and,after the second yellow, the car wasn't pulling off the top end down the straight," Hildebrand revealed, "I had a tough time getting into sixth gear, and it turns out that we had a battery going dead. That just held me up down the straights. I was kind of a sitting duck.”

"Unfortunately, at the end, I lost the rear in corner one and Hildebrand passed me again," Beatriz confirmed, "I couldn't see anything. My tear-offs were so dirty with oil and dirt and I missed a brake. I think the team deserved a podium today, but we have another race tomorrow, so we'll see. I think we have a pretty good car.”

Jay Howard, back in Indy Lights after a frustrating year chasing a permanent seat in the full IndyCar Series, completed the top five on his first outing with Team PBIR, while James Hinchcliffe, Daniel Herrington, James Davison, Mario Romancini and Charlie Kimball wrapped up the ten leading runners.


Related Pictures

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Junior Strous - Winners Circle Group   [pic credit: IRL/Haines]
Sebastien Bourdais with his son after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
The red flag is waived halting attempts to start Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais gets a congratulatory hug from team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway receives the winner`s trophy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with the Ed Carpenter Racing team after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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