Homestead: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

FOUR SAM SCHMIDT DRIVERS SEEK VICTORY IN HOMESTEAD; ONE SEEKS CHAMPIONSHIP IN SEASON FINALE HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- The final round of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season takes place this weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. J.K. Vernay...

FOUR SAM SCHMIDT DRIVERS SEEK VICTORY IN HOMESTEAD; ONE SEEKS CHAMPIONSHIP IN SEASON FINALE

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- The final round of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season takes place this weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

J.K. Vernay seeks first oval victory, and more importantly, Firestone Indy Lights crown.

All J.K. Vernay needs to do to win the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights crown is start Saturday's race. A small task, but Vernay has his sights set much higher. Vernay's goal every weekend is the same at every race he enters -- win. In 12 starts so far this year, he's won five races, but all of those have been on road and street courses. Winning this weekend would be extra special for Vernay because it would be his first on an oval, and more importantly, put a strong stamp on a championship that he's dominated since winning the first two races of the season. He's been fast on every oval he's competed on, and this weekend, he looks to put the finishing touches on a great season.

Pippa Mann, hot off first race win and leading the most laps in past two events, looks for strong finish.

A driver that seems to have hit her stride as the season comes to a close is Pippa Mann. After sitting out the Mid-Ohio round to heal her broken hand, she returned at the Infineon Raceway to post her career-best finish to date, fifth. Then, at the following round, she led the most laps at the Chicagoland Speedway en route to another career-best finish, second. Lastly, at the most recent round, she had a dominating weekend at the Kentucky Speedway by winning the pole, leading the most laps, and earning her first career Firstone Indy Lights victory. With just one race to go, Mann has her sites set on repeating her Kentucky performance and trying to claw her way into the top-five in the championship standings. If she repeats her Kentucky feat, she'll do just that.

Philip Major looks to finish season on high note after disappointment in Kentucky.

In a season of highs for Philip Major, including stringing three-straight sixth-place finishes on three different tracks (Indianapolis, Iowa, Watkins Glen) and a best-finish of third at Chicagoland Speedway, finishing the Kentucky race with a first lap accident was a tough pill to swallow. Being the competitor he is, however, he's looking forward to jumping back into the saddle and finishing the season on a strong note. After testing at the Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend, Major feels confident he and the team have all the tools necessary to repeat, if not improve upon, his best result of third and head into the off-season with a strong result.

Wade Cunningham returns to Sam Schmidt Motorsports and looks to show same form as Indy win.

So far in 2010, Wade Cunningham has been perfect in race starts having won the one he's started. Brought on to drive the IZOD/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry at Indy, Cunningham won the race that's very important to him and very important to the team. Now, the two reunite with one goal in mind -- win. Cunningham isn't racing for points or anything in the championship. His sole purpose this weekend is to come in, chase a race victory, and head into the off-season with a strong platform to build on for potential IZOD IndyCar rides in 2011. The team looks to utilize this opportunity to put another strong car on the track and increase the team's chances for winning another race. Though winning seven races in 2010 is a nice result for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, winning an eighth this weekend would be even better.

No. 7 LUCAS OIL/CJ Motorsport/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay

"I'm looking forward to the race in Homestead this weekend. It's the final chapter in a great season for us, but we still have a job to do. I'm excited that we're so close to winning the championship, but the bigger focus for me, and has been all year, is to go for the victory. It'd be a great way for me to finish the season with another win, and more importantly, a win on an oval. We have been quick on all the ovals so far, so there's no reason to think that a win is not possible. There will be a lot of competition, especially amongst my teammates, but I'm as focused and determined as ever to come away with another victory to finish off the season."

No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

"I think all the usual suspects will be in the hunt for the race win this weekend, and we'll be one of them. Obviously with Wade coming back into the series, that is someone else whom you would expect to be up front returning to the fray, but as he's on our team, he will also bring valuable data with him. Our goal for the No. 11 car is to try and put together another perfect weekend, with pole, most laps lead, and the race win. The closer we can get to that in reality this weekend, the more likely it is that I could finish the year fifth in the drivers championship. After some of the things that have happened to me this year, Indy and racing two races with my hand broken before missing one altogether while it mended, that would be a fairly amazing comeback story, and it's the story I would like to end 2010 with."

No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

"I think we're going to have a good weekend in Miami. We got to test there last week, and I think the conditions are going to be similar. We learned a lot for the race. I think we'll be in good shape. After Kentucky, it'll be nice to get back into the race car and get a good result to end the season on a high. What better place to do it than Miami? We're all looking forward to it."

No. 77 IZOD/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Wade Cunningham

"I'm thrilled to be running at Homestead this weekend with IZOD and Sam Schmidt Motorsports. The last time we ran together, at Indy, we had a great result with a race win. I expect nothing less heading into this weekend. This is a great opportunity for me personally to put up a solid performance and give me a good platform to pursue 2011 IZOD IndyCar possibilities. I'm surrounded by good people and equipment here, and I'm looking forward to a positive race weekend at Homestead."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt

"The goals for Sam Schmidt Motorsports this weekend will be to, first of all, clinch the Championship for J.K. Second, we will do everything in our power to sit on the pole and win the race. If and when J.K. starts the race and effectively clinches, he will no longer be restricted by wanting to win the championship, so I know he will be trying his hardest and leave nothing on the table in an effort to win his first oval race. Pippa is also coming off of a spectacular sweep of everything at Kentucky, so the confidence in the No. 11 camp could not be any higher. Then, with Philip Major and the No. 49 team, it is redemption time. They had a very fast car at Kentucky and we would like to see him complete the season on a high note. Lastly, but certainly not least, Wade is returning to the same seat that he won the Freedom 100 with again with IZOD's support. With his experience and success, you certainly can't count him out. We've got four strong cars and drivers all hoping to get that last win of the season, and honestly, any four of them can do it."

-source: sam schmidt racing

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Series INDYLIGHTS