By Eric Mauk: Estaban Guerrieri benefited from a blocking penalty to take the victory in Iowa
Estaban Guerrieri waited until the wee hours of Sunday morning to get on track, but the interminable wait was worth it as Guerrieri scored his third Firestone Indy Lights win of the 2012 season, taking the Sukup 100 at Iowa Speedway.
Guerrieri trailed points leader Tristan Vautier over the first half of the race, but closed to within striking distance with 50 laps left in the 115-lap event. Guerrieri made a thrust to the inside of Vautier in a bid to take the lead, but Vautier's move to defend was termed a block by series race control. The punishment for blocking forced Vautier to serve a drive-through penalty, ceding the lead to Guerrieri who immediately stretched his advantage to more than eight seconds over Gustavo Yacaman and Victor Carbone.
The penalty dropped Vautier back to eighth in the field, forcing the series leader to turn up the wick in his attempt to back to the front. Meanwhile, Carbone swiped the second spot from Yacaman with 34 laps to go in a move that would pay off with seven trips left to make around the .875-mile Iowa Speedway.
Oliver Webb brought out the race's only caution flag as he banged into the fence with seven laps to go, erasing Guerrieri's advantage and giving him a shot to take the lead on the Lap 112 restart.
But Guerrieri was equal to the task, getting a great jump at the drop of the green flag and easing away to take the victory over Carbone and Yacaman.
"It was quite clear that Tristan blocked me, so after he had his penalty, we were able to build a pretty big lead," Guerrieri said. "We put a nice setup on the car and the guys did a great job, making it a really good night for us."
The win, couple with what ended up being a fourth-place finish by Vautier, moved Guerrieri into the points lead with five races left on the schedule. His championship charge was further aided by the early retirement of title contender Sebastien Saaevedra, who fell out early with a wheel bearing problem.