VERNAY STARTS SEASON TWO FOR TWO WITH SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS VICTORY AT BARBER BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver J.K. Vernay remains undefeated in Firestone Indy Lights competition after a dominating victory from pole on Sunday...
VERNAY STARTS SEASON TWO FOR TWO WITH SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS VICTORY AT BARBER
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver J.K. Vernay remains undefeated in Firestone Indy Lights competition after a dominating victory from pole on Sunday afternoon at the Barber Motorsports Park, giving he and the team two wins in two races to start the 2010 season.
Vernay led all but one lap en route to his victory. At the start of the race, fellow front-row starter Charlie Kimball got ahead of Vernay, but officials deemed that the move was not legal and forced him behind Vernay. From Lap 2 on, Vernay never looked back.
The victory gives the Frenchman a 33 point lead over second-place Kimball in the point standings. Vernay also earned a $5,000 bonus from Firestone for winning two races in a row.
Teammate Philip Major followed Vernay home in 10th, giving the young rookie his best finish in two series starts. Starting from 13th, he found himself faster than the cars in front, but he had to exercise tremendous amounts of patience as the circuit did not lend itself well to passing. As fierce as the battles were amongst the drivers, competitors could do very little to move their way around each other.
Another factor the drivers had to contend were the durability of the tires they were racing on. Drivers had to manage their tire wear to ensure that they could run the entire race distance competitively. Pippa Mann would find that to be an extra challenge as she had to drive conservatively enough to finish the race while still maintaining position over cars behind her. Having taken some damage onto her car during the race put extra strain on her tires, but she managed to finish the event on the race course with a 12th-place result.
One driver that was having a strong run but didn't get the result he had sought was James Winslow. Running competitively in the top-10 from the get-go, he ran as high as eighth before being forced to pit on Lap 32 to repair front end damage. This was just two laps after having set his fastest lap of the race at a point when all the others were starting to slow a bit. Needless to say, the potential was there for a strong result, but Winslow had to settle for 15th-place.
Next up for Sam Schmidt Motorsports is a quick turn around as the team will be heading straight to Long Beach, California, for the third round of the championship to be held on the famed downtown street course next Sunday.
No. 7 LUCAS SLICK MIST/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay
Started first; finished first.
"I was trying to take care of my tires early in the race and at the end, I was able to push and the car was still very good at the end of the race. Everybody did a great job and I'm very happy. (About changes between warm-up and the race) "We tried some small changes for the race. It was warmer than this morning. We had to take care of the tires, the engine and the chassis. My engineer did a great job with the setup and the crew did a great job. I couldn't be happier." (About the start of the race): "(Charlie Kimball) was in front before the start line and that's why he let me overtake him on the second lap Charlie was really fair and it was very good race."
No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann
Started 12th; finished 12th.
"For the most part of the race, we looked pretty good. We were just kind of running around. The pack in front was fighting pretty heavily. One of the cars in it, the 37 car, actually got driven off. Unfortunately, before that happened, he kind of already backed all of us up into each other several times. With about 10 laps to go, I picked up some damage on the front end of my car, and from that moment on, it was just a race to try and keep the tires on and stay in front of the 22 car without blocking. The last 10 laps of the race were pretty tough. I'm really glad the tires held on and we managed to finish the race because I didn't think it was going to. At that stage, any finish is better than having a tire blowing out and causing you to fall out. Along with that, despite nearly missing a month of training and being so ill in St. Pete, I'm feeling pretty good after this race. Obviously all the work I did before the season preparing did me some good after all. We'll keep on fighting and try again in Long Beach."
No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major
Started 13th; finished 10th.
"The race definitely went better than qualifying. I'm just glad to salvage this weekend and come out with a top-10 finish. It's definitely good for us in the points. We can shift our focus now on Long Beach and getting a better qualifying result so that we can run up front. Other than that, it was a good race. It was a bit hectic. We got started behind some slower cars, and it was really difficult to pass on this circuit. We moved up a few spots and got the job done. I'm just really happy for the whole team and looking forward to the next event."
No. 77 BSS/BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Winslow
Started ninth; finished 15th.
"A frustrating finish to a frustrating weekend. We showed we were quick and had the pace to get into the top-five. I was just starting to get going at my own pace when we suffered damage to the car and had to come in for repairs. The team did a great job all weekend. We had a great car, but circumstances all weekend cost us a chance to get the result that this team deserved."
Team Owner, Sam Schmidt
"Fantastic victory for the team. J.K. drove amazing today and did a great job all weekend. Also glad to see Philip Major get his first top-10. James Winslow was on pace towards a good finish until his problems. We're looking forward to another good result in Long Beach. With a good finish there, we can take a lot of positive momentum into the month of May in Indy and make some great things happen."