Dillon Battistini rebounded from a tough run of results to win his fourth Firestone Indy Lights race of the season, moving from fourth on the grid to lead most of the way in the 67-lap Kentucky 100.

The Briton maintained his strong oval showings with an early pass for the lead, and led the remaining 65 laps to claim a vital victory that edges him closer to the leaders of the championship, having dropped away in recent weeks. Points leader Richard Antinucci finished fourth in the race, giving him a four-point advantage over Raphael Matos, who finished sixth, while Mid-Ohio winner James Davison finished second to Battistini, ahead of Arie Luyendyk Jr.

"I knew it was going to be hard to pass on this track," Battistini said of the circuit which had seen him test an IndyCar for the first time in the build-up to the weekend, "I knew there was a chance at getting [Matos] at the start, and I pulled that off and was able to hang on. I still had to fight off some really strong competition but, luckily, we were strong enough to stay in the lead and take the win."

The win vaulted the Panther Racing driver up three spots in the championship standings, where he now shares a tie for third place with Luyendyk, some 57 points adrift of Antinucci, despite having now won more races than any other driver in the series this season.

"It feels good to make up some ground in the standings after the last few races," the 2007 Asian F3 champion said, "We still have three races to make up points. We are due for a strong showing on a road course, and after that is another oval, so I feel good about our chances to make up some good points."

Battistini admitted that he thought Matos would prove to be a tougher challenge in the race, after the Brazilian largely dominated practice and qualifying, but the #27 AFS/AGR entry faded to sixth at the flag.

"It was a little bit frustrating, but I was expecting it because my car lost positions on the start," Matos conceded, "The yellow flags kind of made us struggle a little bit, and my car wasn't good on the restarts. It came back to me at the end of the race, and I was able to gain a little bit of ground, and was able to attack, but I just ran out of time.

"But the important thing with this race is that I was able to gain some good points. I finished sixth and Antinucci finished fourth, and the good thing is that I am only four points behind, and there are still plenty of races. We can improve and are real quick on the road courses, and we are still in the fight for the championship."

Davison, meanwhile, took advantage of Matos' problems to finish second, taking his second consecutive top two finish after his fortuitous win at Mid-Ohio.

"I think we definitely deserved to be up there, as we've been strong on ovals lately," the Australian said, "A strong oval finish has been important to me, and that hasn't been something I've been able to do so far this season, for one reason or the other. I could have maybe taken a bit of a chance by jumping Dillon on the restart, but I didn't want to end up losing a position, so we held on to a safe second."

Luyendyk finished third for his fourth podium finish of the season, but continues to chase his maiden win in the series.

"All of our cars are strong in the front, and I think it just came down to track position," the veteran admitted, "Dillon got a great start, and snuck up on me on the inside. I didn't expect him to be there, but he got the lead and it was hard to get around him after that. It's a third podium in a row on ovals for me, so I feel pretty good, but we just need to get that first place. Hopefully that comes at Infineon or Chicago."

Points leader Antinucci echoed title rival Matos' claim that it had been good to rack up a useful result that kept his nose in front in the overall standings.

"A top-four, it's very good," he noted, "The car felt so good - I could go inside, outside - but, once you get to the front, it's tougher to pass. On the long runs, I had the best car by far. It's just that Davison and Battistini made it hard to get around them. With two cars, it was a two-lane race. I was trying to help [Sam Schmidt team-mate] James, and almost got both of them at one point. I tried to pass Davison on the outside with three laps to go, and Arie got underneath me. He had the slipstream on me, and I got boxed to the outside. Still, I'm excited about the finish. We've still got the points lead and we'll just go to Sonoma and look to build on our points lead there."

The Firestone Indy Lights series will be in action again in two weeks, when it heads to Infineon Raceway for the Carneros 100 and Valley of the Moon 100 double-header on Saturday and Sunday 23-24 August.


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