Luck of the Draw Hands Pablo Donoso Indy Lights Win For weekends with two races the Indy Lights Series has an interesting way of setting the grid for the second race. The winner of race one draws the number 4, 6, or 8. Whichever number is drawn...
Luck of the Draw Hands Pablo Donoso Indy Lights Win
For weekends with two races the Indy Lights Series has an interesting way of setting the grid for the second race. The winner of race one draws the number 4, 6, or 8. Whichever number is drawn is the number of top finishing cars that start in an inverted order from the front in race number two. So, race one winner Franck Perera could have started Sunday's second race in fourth, or sixth, or eighth position. Unfortunately for Franck, who nonetheless posted the fastest lap of race 2 at a speed of 98.181 miles per hour, he drew the number 8. So, the driver of the #55 CJ Consulting Guthrie Racing car ended up with a fifth place finish.
The recipient of the other side of the luck of that draw was Chilean racer Pablo Donoso. At a racetrack like Infineon, where passing seems to require a note from the pope, Donoso's 8th place finish Saturday combined with Perera's draw gave him the pole Sunday. That and his skill as a driver was enough to bring him his first win in Indy Lights, and his second win at Sears Point, having taken the checkers in 2005 while running in the Star Mazda series. He drove a flawless race, making no mistakes and was never seriously challenged for the race lead. Driving the #22 TMR - Cristal - Extreme Coil Drilling car for Moore Racing, Donoso, who does not yet have a ride lined up for the Chicagoland finale in two weeks, was ebullient in his victory.
"This is great. This is a beautiful day. I'm pretty happy, and I love this track", Donoso said. "I had an awesome car. Team Moore Racing gave me a beautiful car. I did the job. I finished first. But it's not just me, it's the team, my family, my manager. This is for all the people who supported me in Chile".
Donoso also scored Team Moore's first win, and his manager, Indy Car Series veteran Eliseo Salizar, is sure to get more than one call for the popular driver's services for the season ender.
Finishing second was Logan Gomez, driver of the #23 Izod Menards Guthrie Racing car who started the race in 4th. Gomez, the American driver with the cleverly named www.indyanakid.com passed third place starter Ana Beatriz on the first lap and then 2nd place starter Daniel Harrington on lap 5 and never looked back. Second is not a happy place for most of the racers we know, and Logan Gomez is no exception.
"We had something for (Pablo Donoso), it's just every time you go into a braking zone, all the air is off the cars. And with it being so hot today and a bunch of different rubber on the track, we were just locking up tires", commented Gomez. "We had a few moments out there, I fell back to Pablo, but overall it was a good race."
The final spot on the podium was claimed by popular Brazilian driver Ana Beatriz, driver of the #20 Healthy Choice car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Bia, as she is known in the paddock, was the winner of the Nashville race and was the only Indy Lights car today that finished in the same position she started. Third also may be her finish in the points standings, as she leaves California in third with 409 of them, immediately behind Raphael Matos and Richard Antinucci.
"It was a good race", said Beatriz, "Unfortunately, during the restart I was a little bit stuck behind Donoso. It was so hard to pass, but when someone made a mistake you could pass, and we got another podium. It's fantastic".
Sunday's race ran caution free after a full course yellow was thrown when New Zealand's Mitch Cunningham, had a scary looking single car incident during lap one when his car turned upside down. The driver was able to work his way out on the ground. After a mandatory exam by the Indy Car Series' medical director, he was pronounced fit to drive, although his car unfortunately was not.
While they did not figure significantly in the race, points leaders Rafael Matos, with 472 points, and Richard Antinucci, with 469, had their own private battle going all day long. Word has it that the two were taken to the Indy Lights woodshed by Tony Cotman following the race. While nothing has been said, it may have something to do with the lap 27 bump of Antinucci by Matos. It cost Antinucci a position, and since this is not NASCAR, one would presume that Matos has been warned.
Most significant for the Indy Lights Series is that Pablo Donoso's victory sets a series record with nine different race winners in the 2008 season. Dillon Battistini, Raphael Matos, Richard Antinucci, J.R. Hildebrand, Bobby Wilson, Ana Beatriz, James Davison, Franck Perera, and Pablo Donoso make a very good record indeed.