Homestead: Series race notes

Dillon Battistini became the fifth Firestone Indy Lights driver to win in his first start when he captured the Miami 100. Battistini passed Richard Antinucci on Lap 64 of the 67-lap sprint to win by 1.6848 seconds. Antinucci was second while...

Dillon Battistini became the fifth Firestone Indy Lights driver to win in his first start when he captured the Miami 100. Battistini passed Richard Antinucci on Lap 64 of the 67-lap sprint to win by 1.6848 seconds.

Antinucci was second while Brent Sherman was third, Arie Luyendyk Jr. fourth and Chris Festa fifth.

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MIAMI 100 POST-RACE NOTES:

* Dillon Battistini wins in his first Firestone Indy Lights start. He is the fifth driver to win his first Firestone Indy Lights start. Others were A.J. Foyt IV (2002), Mark Taylor (2003), Phil Giebler (2004), Marco Andretti (2005) and Raphael Matos (2006). Taylor and Giebler's victories also came at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

* The victory was the 10th for Panther Racing in Firestone Indy Lights competition.

* Richard Antinucci earned two bonus points for leading the most laps in his first career start on an oval.

* Brent Sherman finished third in his Firestone Indy Lights debut, improving 10 positions during the race.

* Chris Festa, the 2007 polesitter at Homestead-Miami Speedway, also improved 10 postions during the race to finish fifth.

* Arie Luyendyk Jr. recorded his 19th career top-five finish in Firestone Indy Lights.

* JR Hildebrand improved 13 positions during the race, the most of any driver, to finish 10th.

* Ana Beatriz finished seventh, the highest finish by a female driver in Firestone Indy Lights history. Previously, Mishael Abbott's eighth-place finish at Homestead-Miami in 2005 had been the highest.

* Twenty-three cars running at the finish establishes a Firestone Indy Lights record. The previous mark of 21 was set last year at Watkins Glen 2.

MIAMI 100 POST-RACE QUOTES:

DILLON BATTISTINI (No. 15 Panther Racing, finished first): "I'm really enjoying (this type of racing). I just went into the race with an open mind. I wanted to make sure I finished, gained experience and enjoyed myself. I think my inexperience showed at the start when I dropped a few places, probably six or seven. My car was set up to come together at the end of the race. The only problem I had was the restarts after a yellow when the car lost tire pressure. The tires cooled off and I was struggling to get back up to speed for a couple laps. I knew once the car heated up, I would be quick. I had the fast car at the end of the race."

RICHARD ANTINUCCI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, finished second): "I think I burned my front tires a little too early. It went longer than expected without a caution. It was so hot, and it puts stress on the car. But we scored good points today, and it's a long season."

BRENT SHERMAN (No. 16 Best Buddies/PEC, finished third): "I don't want to say we were saving our tires, but we thought there would be some cautions that we would be able to gain some track position on, and before I know it, it's two or three (laps) to go. The car was unbelievable - the team gave me a great car. Obviously Dillon had a great run. I'm just happy to be on the podium. I mean I'm sitting back in eighth, saying, ‘How am I going to pull this off, how am I going to get through the traffic?' But it was really the car. It stuck as good on the last lap as it did on the first. I appreciate the opportunity that Panther has given me. A podium in my first Firestone Indy Lights start - I'm pretty excited about it."

ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., finished fourth): "It was a struggle. Starting 11th, it's always going to be difficult to get to the front. But we worked our way up there quite fast. Then the car picked up a huge understeer, so I knew we were in trouble and we kept fading back. But when the restarts came, I knew I had something for them. So I'm really glad we ended up running fourth. Those last two restarts were pretty crazy, but they really helped me out. AFS and Andretti Green did an awesome job preparing the car. We missed a little bit on the setup, but I'm sure we'll get it together for the next one."

CHRIS FESTA (No. 24 Alliance Motorsports, finished fifth): "We were having some gearbox problems with the upshifts, so we were kind of out to lunch on the restarts and the initial start, but once we got it rolling our car was very good and stayed very consistent. I feel that if the gearbox was upshifting properly we could have challenged for the win today. Today was the most fun I've had in a long time. Yeah, you'd like to win, but when you come from the back like we did, it's really good."

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The 2008 Indy Pro Series season continues April 5-6 with a doubleheader weekend at St. Petersburg. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , A.J. Foyt IV , Sam Schmidt , Brent Sherman , Marco Andretti , Richard Antinucci , Chris Festa , Phil Giebler , Ana Beatriz , Dillon Battistini , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing