Homestead: Series race notes

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Friday, Oct. 9, 2009) -- In the season-ending Homestead-Miami 100 for the Firestone Indy Lights series, Mario Romancini edged J.R. Hildebrand by .0057 of a second -- the second-closest margin in series history -- for his ...

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Friday, Oct. 9, 2009) -- In the season-ending Homestead-Miami 100 for the Firestone Indy Lights series, Mario Romancini edged J.R. Hildebrand by .0057 of a second -- the second-closest margin in series history -- for his second victory of the season in the No. 5 Revita/Win Brazil/Allied/RLR/Anderson entry. Romancini pulled alongside 2009 series champion Hildebrand exiting Turn 4 on the final lap, winning a drag race down the front straightaway to the line. Romancini won the 67-lap race at an average speed of 137.423 mph. Sebastian Saavedra finished third.

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HOMESTEAD-MIAMI 100 POST-RACE NOTES:

* This was the second career Firestone Indy Lights victory for rookie Mario Romancini. His other victory this season came at Milwaukee. Romancini has recorded four podium finishes this season.

* The margin of victory. 0057 of a second, was the second-closest in Firestone Indy Lights history. The closest was .0005 of a second in 2007 at Chicagoland, where Logan Gomez edged Alex Lloyd.

* Mario Romancini won from the 10th starting spot, the lowest starting spot for a winner this season in Firestone Indy Lights. The previous low was ninth, where Daniel Herrington started en route to victory at Chicagoland.

* Firestone Indy Lights champion J.R. Hildebrand finished second, his 10th podium finish of the season.

* Sebastian Saavedra finished third, his seventh podium finish of the season.

* Mike Potekhen finished a season-best fourth. His previous best was eighth at Kentucky.

* Pole winner James Davison finished fifth. The pole winner has won this race only once, Travis Gregg in 2005.

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HOMESTEAD-MIAMI 100 POST-RACE QUOTES:

J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 26 ARPRO, second): "Good way to cap it (season) off. We had some crazy runs on the mile-and-a-half ovals, but it's a good way to end it. I can't be more thankful to Michael Andretti and everyone on the team."

(What does 2010 hold in store for you?): "Hopefully it holds a really fast IndyCar season next year. We'll see what we can get."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., third): "It was incredible. Incredibly hard race. We knew we had a car for the pole. We knew we had a car to go to the front. There was a lot of tire saving. I knew it would be a long race, so I took advantage of that. Took advantage of the guys in front of me, and I went for it. It was not enough for the championship, but I'm very happy for AFS and Andretti Green Racing. It was an incredible job to get third place and the rookie championship. Hopefully, next year."

(About plans for 2010): "Whatever comes! I'm very happy for the moment and for what's going on today."

MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 5 Revita/Win Brazil/Allied/RLR/Andersen, winner): "I lost my voice. I was screaming so much on the radio. It was really difficult to pass J.R. (Hildebrand). I knew if I had one chance, it would be the last lap. I tried before, but I couldn't get by him in Turn 1, so I knew my only chance would be at the start/finish line. I'm so glad that everything went well. I want to think my team; they did an awesome job. Also thank to my sponsors and my mom. She came here for this race. So I just want to thank them all. It was an amazing race for us. Again, we qualified at the back; we had a problem in qualifying. This just shows it doesn't really matter where you qualify."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, sixth): "It was a challenging race. We led early on and battled James (Davison) for the lead. The conditions this weekend were tough. They caught a lot of people out. So, James and I had a gentlemen's agreement to race each other pretty clean and not deliberately do anything stupid to each other. I had one opportunity to take the lead, but it would have involved squeezing him pretty hard in the middle of the corner. That really changed the outcome of our race because the car developed a bit of understeer in Turns 3 and 4, and riding behind other cars hurt our tires. Unfortunately, I didn't take that opportunity, and I just slowly slipped back with Davison slipping back with me. We ran each other hard in the beginning, with him hugging the low line and me trying to run around him on the high side. Just a difficult race all around. It's unfortunate we couldn't move up in the standings. In the first few laps, I felt that we could have challenged for the win, and just to slowly slip back and see the potential slip away, it's just disappointing."

JAMES DAVISON (No. 21 People*s Liberation/Vision Racing, fifth): "What a fantastic race. We qualified the People*s Liberation car on pole, led a ton of laps and overcame a huge amount of pressure to get a good result. (Mario) Romancini was helping (J.R.) Hildebrand to get a run on me midway through the race, and in the middle of Turns 1 and 2, my car snapped loose and it was about the closest thing to crashing as I could have imagined. I just kind of tracked up and we touched in the middle of the turn, and I had to correct the car again and lost a whole bunch of momentum and ended up dropping back to fifth. But ultimately, the main priority was to maintain second place in the points in our first season back to Indy Lights competition since 2005, and we did that. Really, it's been a fantastic season, and I've just got to thank the entire team for their efforts."

-credit: irl

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Series INDYLIGHTS