When Kyle Kaiser took the green flag for the final event of the 2017 Indy Lights season, he clinched the championship, a $1 million scholarship toward racing in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, and participation in three IndyCar races, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
The 21-year-old Juncos Racing driver entered the last race at Watkins Glen International with a 32-point lead over Santiago Urrutia. Mathematically, all he needed to do was start, and the title would be his.
Kaiser finished seventh at the Glen and spun during the rainy, 25-lap race. But it meant nothing as he hoisted the championship trophy in Victory Lane.
In three full seasons, Kaiser accumulated five wins, including three this year. In 2016, he won his first career Lights race at the oval-shaped Phoenix International Raceway and road course Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
This year, he won Race No. 2 of the Indianapolis Grand Prix and swept the dual weekend on the Streets of Toronto in July.
Kaiser has won on all three track types — ovals, road courses, and street courses. Now that he’s a champion, he feels confident in competing at the top level of American open-wheel racing.
“It’s important racing every type of track in the IndyCar Series,” Kaiser said. “I think we’ll move up and get a feel for it and hopefully we’ll be able to do more than three races. That’s kind of the plan going up. But we’ve got to plan and conversations going on and we’ll have more information in the coming weeks.”
But above all, he’s ecstatic to compete in the next Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“It’s the biggest race in the world,” he said. “How could I not be excited about it?”