Watkins Glen: Series Friday notebook

DAVISON CLAIMS CORNING 100 POLE AT WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Friday, July 3, 2009) -- James Davison earned his first pole start of the season and second of his Firestone Indy Lights career July 3 with a quick lap of 1 minute, 37.1780 ...

DAVISON CLAIMS CORNING 100 POLE AT WATKINS GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Friday, July 3, 2009) -- James Davison earned his first pole start of the season and second of his Firestone Indy Lights career July 3 with a quick lap of 1 minute, 37.1780 seconds (124.843 mph) on the 3.37-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International course for the Corning 100 on July 4.

The Vision Racing driver will be joined on the front row by Sebastian Saavedra, who posted a quick lap of 1:37.2694 (124.726) in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. car for AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing.

James Hinchcliffe (1:37.3383) in the No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car will share Row two with series points leader J.R. Hildebrand (1:37.3384), driving the No. 26 ARPRO car for ARPRO Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing.

Charlie Kimball, driving the No. 35 Team PBIR entry, recorded a season-high fifth starting spot. Felipe Guimaraes, making his series debut for Bryan Herta Autosport, will start sixth (1:37.7849). The Corning 100 will be televised at 11 p.m. (ET) Monday, July 6 on VERSUS.

IndyCar Series practice and qualifying for the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen takes place Saturday, July 4.

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Firestone Racing brings three types of tires to Watkins Glen this weekend. IndyCar Series teams have six sets of primary dry racing slicks, five sets of rain tires and three sets of alternate "red" tires.

Each entry must declare to the Indy Racing League within one hour after qualifying on which dry-condition tire spec it intends to start the race. All cars must use at least one primary set and one new alternate set during the race, each for a minimum of two green-flag laps.

Firestone Racing is bringing a new primary tire specification to Watkins Glen, while alternate tires will be used here for the first time. The rain tire is the more durable, "road course rain" specification. The primary spec is a durable road course compound and construction, designed to withstand the high speeds encountered on the IndyCar Series' longest permanent road course. The alternate tires are identical in construction to the primaries but contain a softer tread compound, which will provide more grip and faster lap times, yet will trade off compound durability in exchange for those shorter- term advantages.

AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): "After nearly three months of racing on ovals, Firestone Racing is looking forward to a few consecutive road and street course races. Not only does the move from ovals to road courses like Watkins Glen showcase the talent of the IndyCar Series drivers through the differing demands of the diverse track lineup, it also gives Firestone Racing an opportunity to once again feature our alternate tire concept. Last year's event in Watkins Glen was one of the more exciting road/street course events of the season, and with alternate tires in the mix this year, I anticipate that this year's race will be as good or better. There is a significant gap between the primary and alternate tire specifications for this event, so tire management and strategy will no doubt come into play. And with ever-changing weather forecasts, it remains to be seen whether our wet tire will be necessary, as well!"

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The Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for Firestone Indy Lights, has penalized driver Ana Beatriz for on-track actions during the race June 20 at Iowa Speedway.

Beatriz has been penalized five grid positions for this weekend's event at Watkins Glen for failing to respond to yellow flag conditions, which is a violation of rules involving caution periods as listed in the Firestone Indy Lights Rule Book. She is starting 17th.

Beatriz may appeal the penalty as prescribed in the Firestone Indy Lights Rule Book. An appeal may result in an increase, decrease or no change to the penalty.

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2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion Wade Cunningham has a strong record at Watkins Glen, with podium finishes in each of his four starts here. He won the first race of a double-header in 2007, finished second in the second race of the double-header in 2007, second in 2006 and third in 2005. Cunningham also won two poles here, in 2005 and 2007.

Cunningham will drive the No. 11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car this weekend. WADE CUNNINGHAM: "Because Watkins Glen is such a fast-running track, you're not forcing the car around like a street course. But because of the high speed corners and long straights here, you can't run a lot of downforce. So the track requires a lot of confidence and commitment from the driver in order to be quick. If you can get it all right, you're rewarded as a driver."

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When the United States men's soccer team lost, 3-2, in the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup June 28, Firestone Indy Lights team owner Sam Schmidt lost a friendly bet with one of his team's drivers, Brazilian Ana Beatriz.

SAM SCHMIDT: "First off, I want to congratulate USA Soccer for its tremendous performance in the FIFA international tournament recently completed, beating Spain and almost winning the title. However, I am quite bummed they didn't beat Brazil in the finals as Bia would have had to wear a Team USA jersey all weekend per our bet."

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Vitor Meira isn't exceptionally flexible at the moment, so "I'm just not going to be very good changing tires and fueling," he said. But the veteran IndyCar Series driver is attending the race weekend at The Glen to support the A.J. Foyt Racing team and driver Ryan Hunter-Reay.

It will be the first race Meira has attended since suffering two broken lower vertebrae during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24, but his thoughts have been with the team while recuperating and rehabilitating. Meira is wearing a torso brace in lieu of surgery.

VITOR MEIRA: "They've been giving me a lot of support since the accident, and most of all, they're all my friends and I want to be with them. Second of all, to be at the racetrack, that's where I always want to be, and that's where I love to be. I don't want to be at home if I can be at the racetrack. I'll probably go around the track and watch some cars with a stopwatch and take some times and take notes on some different lines so I can keep Ryan updated on what people are doing out there."

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Ali Jackson, the driver of the #6 Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort/Allied car in Firestone Indy Lights, did not participate in this morning's practice session or this afternoon's qualifying session due to travel delays from his native Northern Ireland.

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Defending Camping World at the Glen winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. AJ Foyt Racing car, took some good-natured teasing from members of the Buffalo media Thursday during a media tour in the city. Florida resident Hunter-Reay is an avid fan of the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, the archrival of the Buffalo Bills.

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Firestone Indy Lights veteran Richard Antinucci will make his IndyCar Series debut this weekend in the No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G car. Antinucci, from San Diego, finished second in the Firestone Indy Lights standings in 2008, 32 points behind champion Raphael Matos. He won the second race of the Firestone Indy Lights double-header in 2008 at The Glen.

Antinucci is the nephew of 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr., who raced in the 1980 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

• James Davison won the pole in the No. 21 People*s Liberation/Vision Racing entry. Davison, 22, is from Melbourne, Australia. This is his first pole of the season and his second career pole. He also won the pole in 2008 at Nashville Superspeedway. Davison did not start the first race of the double-header last season at Watkins Glen and was credited with 21st place. In the second race, he started 21st -- based on his finishing position in the first race -- and finished 11th.

• James Davison is the fifth different pole winner in eight Firestone Indy Lights races this season.

• Sebastian Saavedra qualified second in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers entry, his fourth front-row qualifying position of the season. He won the pole for the second race at St. Petersburg and qualified second at Kansas and Indianapolis.

• James Hinchcliffe qualified third in the No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry, his second top-three start of the season. He qualified second at Long Beach.

• Points leader J.R. Hildebrand qualified fourth in the No. 26 ARPRO entry, continuing his streak of earning a top-four qualifying spot at all eight Firestone Indy Lights races this season.

• Charlie Kimball qualified a season-best fifth in the No. 35 Palm Beach International Raceway entry. His previous best was seventh at Kansas and Indianapolis, both ovals. His previous best road-course start this season was 12th in the first race of the St. Petersburg double-header.

• Felipe Guimaraes qualified sixth in the No. 29 Bryan Herta Autosport entry in his Firestone Indy Lights debut.

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

JAMES DAVISON (No. 21 People*s Liberation/Vision Racing, pole): "It was a matter of time before we secured the results we deserved as a team. I put in three solid laps on the tires, and I knew it was going to be a tough time to beat. I came in with about five minutes to go, and I was biting my fingernails and we stayed on top. It's a great result we've secured. Now it's about trying to get the race victory. I'll be doing everything I can to get that tomorrow."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc, second): "I think we still have some time missing by myself, not because of the car. I think the car was perfect. I made a small mistake in the last corner going to into what is the (finishing) turn for us (Turn 9). I think there's at least one-tenth that I lose there. Still I'm very happy. Now it's time to show what we've got. It's time to start getting points back that we've missed in the last few races. There are so many points we could have had from those races. I'm pretty confident we can have a good weekend."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): "I think given the amount of track time we got, P3 is a pretty respectable position. We struggled a bit in a practice this morning and, to be fair, even the first part of qualifying was a little bit nail-biting because we didn't quite have the balance we needed or the speed. The car felt fine. We just didn't have the speed. On our second set of tires, we managed to find a big chunk of time, a nice rhythm, and we pumped out a lot of laps in that 1:37.3 bracket, but we just couldn't put together that extra tenth and a half we needed for pole. We're starting on the inside for tomorrow, which I'm really pleased about, and we're still learning. I know the AGR guys tested here earlier this year, so they pretty much know where their cars are at. I know of a couple of places where we can make ours a bit better. We'll use tomorrow morning's practice session to tune it a bit and just hope for a really strong race car."

J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 26 ARPRO, fourth): "We had a pretty good car for qualifying. We weren't going full throttle, and we are still starting on the second row. I got caught up in some traffic on the last stint of the run, so I think we could've picked up some time there, which is frustrating. But we have a really good car. We'll focus on the race setup tomorrow morning and make any last-minute changes. I hope we can make our way through traffic and have a strong finish."

***

IndyCar Series drivers Tony Kanaan and Raphael Matos met with the media this afternoon.

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): (How do your injured ribs feel?): "Better. I was really concerned that day when I was here testing because it hurt me a lot. But I think we will be good for this weekend. Still feeling it a little bit, so we're going to manage with the IndyCar Safety Team and the doctors. I've been taking a shot before every race that makes me not to hurt a lot in the ribs. Hopefully I won't to do that this weekend. But I'm a lot better than I was, for sure."

(What's tougher on your ribs, a high-speed oval or a road course?): "Here, for sure. We're turning left and right. Especially at this track, it's a fast track. The long-radius corners. The road course is a lot worse than the ovals for my ribs. This is the first one since the accident, so hopefully we'll be OK."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Marines Luczo Dragon Racing): "Everything is coming together pretty good. Obviously, we've had a season full of ups and downs. Good performances at Long Beach and at Indy, but the crash at Indy was something we're not looking for. I think the team has been improving every race, every time we go to the track, every test. The team, as a whole, is coming together with time. Performance-wise, we have what it takes to get podium finishes. It's just a matter of putting everything together and being in the right place at the right time.

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SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE
(all times local):
7 a.m. Garages open
9-9:30 a.m. Firestone Indy Lights practice
10-10:30 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (designated rookies, entrants outside top 10 in points)
10:30-11:30 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (all cars)
1 p.m. Corning 100 Firestone Indy Lights race (30 laps)
3 p.m. PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying for IndyCar Series

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Sam Schmidt , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Charlie Kimball , Richard Antinucci , Wade Cunningham , James Davison , James Hinchcliffe , Sebastian Saavedra , Felipe Guimaraes , Ana Beatriz , A.J. Foyt , Vitor Meira
Teams Bryan Herta Autosport