Plowman Soars to 11th Place Finish at Bumpy Baltimore
Martin Plowman finished up his three-race IZOD IndyCar deal with Sam Schmidt Motorsports this weekend with an impressive 11th-place finish in the Baltimore Grand Prix. The Brit, driver of the #17 Snowball Express AFS/SSM car, started 18th for Sunday's race and managed to avoid a series of accidents to Martin Plowman finished up his three-race IZOD IndyCar deal with Sam Schmidt Motorsports this weekend with an impressive 11th -place finish in the Baltimore Grand Prix. The Brit, driver of the #17 Snowball Express AFS/SSM car, started 18th for Sunday's race and managed to avoid a series of accidents to overcome arguably the most difficult track in the 2011 season.
The weekend was a dramatic one for the series. Due to safety concerns from last week's Hurricane Irene, all fences were removed, rendering the track unable to be driven by any series until 2:00pm on Friday, six hours after the scheduled start time. The unpaved railroad tracks on the front straight upset drivers and team-owners alike, who were worried about the damage the cars would suffer. Sunday morning's warm-up was easily the most exciting session of the weekend, when Tony Kanaan's brakes failed, sending his car sailing over Helio Castroveves' and into the turn 1 tire barriers. Kanaan later credited Castroneves for saving his life. Sunday's race brought several yellows, including a multi-car incident in turn 3, which was topped by a controversial call by race control to send certain cars back several places in the field.
" It was a day of mixed emotions for me," Plowman said. "After the [Sunday morning] practice session, we all predicted that the race was going to be full of incidents, but I guess the usual suspects have started to mature out there. I was impressed that we stayed green for so long! Our plan initially was to pit extremely early, get out of the rat race and put on the faster red tires, get some good laps in and catch a yellow. Unfortunately, that yellow flag took a long time to come.
Plowman continued, "There was a huge melee down in turn three [in lap 37]. By the grace of God, I saw a hole and managed to find my way through it. With all of the on-track incidents it was confusing to know which driver was on what strategy. We had opted to go for an alternate strategy, the final full course yellow played to our strategy perfectly. I was able to stretch out my last stint, by saving fuel during the pace car and run the final 27 laps without pitting. After everyone cycled through their pit stops we came out in 11th place. I was giving it my all to break into the top 10, keeping pace with Graham Rahal at the end of the race."
Despite the challenges, the Baltimore Grand Prix was wildly successful for Plowman, the IZOD IndyCar Series, and the race. The race reported over 150,000 in attendance over the weekend. VERSUS Network's broadcast of the race was its highest-rated IndyCar event ever. And Plowman not only delivered incredible results on-track, but also created unique memories for three Snowball Express families who joined him at the race track for the weekend. The families enjoyed one-on-one time with Plowman, garage tours, race tickets, hospitality, and a special dinner on Sunday night to celebrate three successful races.
"After this weekend, I want to say a huge thank you to the AFS/Sam Schmidt No. 17 crew and also the No. 77 team. I'm proud of what we have achieved in these short 3 races together. We have grown together quickly and in some respects exceeded expectations of what we thought were realistic goals. The whole team provided me a fantastic environment to make my debut in the IZOD IndyCar Series. They're an amazing group. I would love to continue with them. Unfortunately, this journey comes to an end this weekend. Who knows what the future holds for me now, but I would love to be able to continue to learn and become a better driver in the IndyCar series next year."