Birmingham: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS BACK IN ACTION THIS WEEKEND WITH INAUGURAL RACE AT BARBER PARK BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The second race of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season takes place this weekend at the new Barber Motorsports Park, and it starts with ...

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS BACK IN ACTION THIS WEEKEND WITH INAUGURAL RACE AT BARBER PARK

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The second race of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season takes place this weekend at the new Barber Motorsports Park, and it starts with today's practice session at 11:45 a.m. A second practice session will take place at 2:55 p.m. with qualifying scheduled for Saturday at 8:15 a.m. The race itself takes place on Sunday at noon. All times listed are in CT, and all sessions can be viewed live on indycar.com or firestoneindylights.com.

Barber Motorsports Park a new challenge for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

The 16-turn, 2.3-mile road course located near Leeds, Alabama, presents a clean slate for Sam Schmidt Motorsports as this weekend's event at the facility is the first for Firestone Indy Lights. The track will not be completely new as the team did take part in pre-season testing at the circuit. The twisty and hilly course provides a challenge for the drivers as there's a nice mix of high-speed, high-g corners along with tight, technical sections to work through. The beauty of the circuit will also be highlighted with sculptures throughout the infield sections and lush foliage around the circuit. Some describe is as a golf course with a race track running through it. The circuit also is home to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, a collection-hall of vintage and modern race cars and motorcycles which began life as a private collection to Barber Motorsports Park owner, George W. Barber.

J.K. Vernay keeps busy after St. Pete victory.

After dominating the wet race on the city streets of downtown St. Petersburg, J.K. Vernay hasn't slowed down yet. He's been busy acclimating to American life, doing rounds of media interviews, and learn new social skills. He said, "It's just been incredible since my win. I've done a lot of press. I was a guest on racefanradio.com and also on autosportradio.com. I did a fun article for indycar.com with Jeff Olson, and there was a nice article on me in "Auto Hebdo," the largest racing magazine in France. I've also sorted my new American life in Indianapolis. I've been training quite a lot, hanging out with friends, and playing Band Hero on my new X-Box. It's so much fun!"

Pippa Mann makes trip across the pond before arriving in Alabama.

Another driver not slowing down since St. Pete is Pippa Mann. She battled a virus for a few weeks that left her starved and dehydrated, obviously affecting her performance all weekend in St. Pete. After the event, she flew back home to England on her mother's orders to see doctors there. The trip seems to have paid off as she enters Barber Park this weekend nearly back to being 100%. She said, "I spent the week after St. Pete seeing doctors back home in the UK, and I am now finally on the road to being better. I've finally started to gain a bit of weight back, and although I haven't been into PitFit since returning to Indy, on doctor's orders, I'm feeling much better. The true test will come on Friday when I get back into the car again, but I'm not expecting any problems."

James Winslow and Philip Major look to improve upon St. Pete results.

Two drivers that had good showings, but not necessarily the results they wanted in St. Pete, James Winslow and Philip Major, look to showcase their best efforts this weekend. Both drivers were competitive throughout the last event, but circumstances didn't allow them to maximize on that full potential. Winslow himself was running around the top-six before being taking out by a competitor, yet he rebounded to put up a solid results. The two enter this weekend determined to improve on their finishes, and with what they have gained in experience in these few short works prior, they're more than confident that running in the top-five or even fighting for the podium are more than realistic expectations.

DRIVER NOTES & QUOTES

No. 7 LUCAS SLICK MIST/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay

Second Firestone Indy Lights start. Won the season's first race in his series debut at St. Petersburg. In 2009, competed in Formula 3, highlighted by two wins, and a track record at the Macau street circuit.

"Barber is more like a European track for sure. The permanent road course is smoother, unlike the city track of St. Pete, and you have a lot of elevation changes. The track does not have a lot of opportunities to overtake so it will be more difficult to pass. I think qualifying will be very important. Our testing was not that great there because I didn't know the car very well yet, but since then, I've learned the car much more, and we have improved the car with my engineer and my driving style. So, I expect to be much quicker there this time around."

No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

In her sophomore season of Firestone Indy Lights competition.
In 2009, had three top-10s with best finish of eighth (Homestead).
A member of the 2010 Indy Racing League Pace Car Team.

"I think qualifying here could be very important because although Barber is a great track to drive, it is a difficult track to pass on. Personally, I would aim to just continue the momentum from St. Pete and try and keep being inside that top-10, then look to move forward from there. We also had a test at Barber earlier this year with the other Firestone Indy Lights Teams and ran in the top-10 again then. Hopefully, we can use what we learned at that test to make us even faster on returning to Birmingham this weekend."

No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

Second Firestone Indy Lights start.
In 2009, made 12 starts in British Formula 3 with Carlin Motorsport with best finish of 10th at Spa.

"Barber looks like a very challenging circuit with many elevation changes, and I am really looking forward to it. At this track qualifying will be key because a track like this will not have many passing opportunities during the race. We will be looking to run in the top-five for this race and get as many points as possible for the championship."

No. 77 BSS/BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Winslow

First Firestone Indy Lights start.
Former A1GP Team Britain Driver; Champion in Australian F3, Formula Renault V6, and Asian F3.
Full member of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC).

"This is my first ever time at the circuit as I was not at the pre-season test with all the others drivers. I'm feeling very upbeat about the weekend, and after a good weekend in St. Pete, I'll be looking to improve on those results and finish on the podium this time around."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt

"We are very much looking forward to competing at Barber Motorsports Park. We tested well there, and for the #7 and #77, would like to continue the momentum from St Pete. However, I'm sure Pippa and Philip would like to improve upon their finishes. I've heard the facility is first class, and I'm very much looking forward to being at the inaugural event. Historically, this is NASCAR country, and we're excited to show the southeast real racing!"

-source: ssm

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Pippa Mann , Phillip Major , James Winslow
Teams Carlin