Racing news from the Indiana motorsports scene

Dempsey Slingshots To Win Firestone Freedom 100

Four cars cross the finish line side by side with Peter Dempsey (#5) winning the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Russ Lake Photo]

Four cars cross the finish line side by side with Peter Dempsey (#5) winning the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Russ Lake Photo]

Sage Karam and Carlos Munoz led the most laps Friday afternoon, but Peter Dempsey won the Firestone Freedom 100 Indy Lights race by the smallest margin in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history with a NASCAR-like slingshot that forced a four-wide dash to the checkered flag.

Dempsey, who started third in the small eleven-car field, was fourth coming out of turn four, trailing Munoz, Karam and Gabby Chavez who were three-wide.

Dempsey pulled out of the draft as the pack exited the final turn and took the high side to a thrilling win that had the crowd on their feet.

“I said it before the race, it’s 40 laps and you go around in circles, but there’s no better place to do it than IMS, ” said Dempsey, who gave credit to his spotter, Indy Lights veteran driver Stefan Wilson.

“He told me to be patient and just get across the line. They spread out and we snuck up on them. I owe him this one. I had a feeling this end was going to happen. And you know it’s going to be four-wide across the line for certain.

“I beat the guy who qualified second (Munoz) for the Indy 500. So that’s not a bad thing, is it?”

Dempsey’s outside pass snuck his Belardi Auto Racing entry ahead by 0.0026 of a second. The closest Indy 500 finish was 0.043 in 1992 by Al Unser Jr.

This was Dempsey’s first Lights series win and the first for Belardi Auto Racing.

Chaves, Karam and Munoz finished under a blanket as only nine cars completed the 40-lap run.

Kyle O’Gara brought out the first yellow when he spun in turn four on lap two, and Jack Hawksworth made slight contact with the wall in turn two on lap fourteen.

Munoz led 26 laps, followed by 8 for Karam.

Peter Dempsey led only one lap as he averaged 162.995 mph.

And how was Belardi’s first win as a team owner?

‘It literally took my breath away. We knew it was going to be a shootout with those three cars in front,” said the first-time winning owner. “For the team to get their first win here; it is so special. Words can’t describe it.”

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life. Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950's, Paul had no idea what "that noise" was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked. The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thompson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner's autograph in the pits, something he couldn't do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked. Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt's first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark's historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them. He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats. Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, "a factor that got me hooked in the first place." Follow Paul at @paulgohde on Twitter. E-mail Paul Gohde at pfgohde@wi.rr.com