Mario Romancini earned his first career Firestone Indy Lights victory with a flag-to-flag win in the Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 at the Milwaukee Mile on Sunday.
The Brazilian, who has shown increasingly impressive form in his debut season, particularly on the unfamiliar ovals, beat series leader JR Hildebrand to the chequered flag by 1.0907secs to better his previous best finish of third - from the oval events at both Kansas and Indianapolis.
Romancini led all 100 laps, his first laps led in the series, to become only the second polesitter to win at Milwaukee after 2007 series champion Alex Lloyd won in his title year. The World Series by Renault refugee also gave RLR/Andersen Racing only its second win in Indy Lights, the first coming, ironically, from Hildebrand at Kansas last season.
"I'm so happy to be here, and I just have to thank RLR/Andersen Racing," Romancini bubbled following his trip to Victory lane, "They've done a fantastic job since we've been here - this win means a lot to me and a lot to the guys. It's just my third oval race, and I'm so very, very happy to be this competitive. Now we have two weeks to work and think about the next one in Iowa."
There was a late scare for Romancini when Daniel Herrington brought out a late caution by collecting the inside wall at pit-lane entrance, but the Brazilian was able to keep Hildebrand at bay on the restsrt with nine laps remaining and gradually increased his cushion over the AFS/AGR driver to the flag.
"I was a bit concerned because every time I started to pull away, the yellow came out," he reflected, "We knew we had a good car so, with ten laps to go, all I had to do was manage the gap."
Hildebrand duly finished second for his fourth podium result of the season, and remains the points leader with a ten-point advantage over AFS/AGR team-mate Sebastian Saavedra, who completed the podium.
"[Romancini] had a really good car, and he was doing a really good job with it," Hildebrand admitted, "Having to run behind him the whole race, I started picking up understeer and wearing out the front tyres, and I just didn't have anything for him at the end.
"With the lapped car on that restart, I didn't really have a chance to try to jump him then, so there wasn't much I could do there towards the end. But it was a great finish for the team, and I have to thank the boys. They've done a great job all weekend."