Homestead: Series race report

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010) -- Brandon Wagner outdueled James Hinchcliffe to win the Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The USAC Midget Series veteran beat James Hinchcliffe of Team Moore Racing by...

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010) -- Brandon Wagner outdueled James Hinchcliffe to win the Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The USAC Midget Series veteran beat James Hinchcliffe of Team Moore Racing by 0.7006 of a second for his first victory and first for Davey Hamilton Racing.

Wade Cunningham, who won the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May in his only other start this season, finished third in the No. 77 IZOD Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. Adrian Campos Jr. was fourth and pole sitter Pippa Mann fifth.

J.K. Vernay finished 15th to clinch the Firestone Indy Lights championship. The Frenchman wrapped up the title when he took the green flag for the 67-lap race.

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FUZZY'S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA 100 POST-RACE NOTES:

* Brandon Wagner earned his first career Firestone Indy Lights victory. His previous best finish was eighth this season at Indianapolis and Kentucky.

* James Hinchcliffe earned his eighth podium finish in 13 starts this season.

* This is the first Firestone Indy Lights victory for Davey Hamilton Racing, owned by Indianapolis 500 and IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Davey Hamilton.

* James Hinchcliffe has finished on the podium in 13 of his 28 career Firestone Indy Lights starts (46 percent).

* Wade Cunningham has finished on the podium in both of his Firestone Indy Lights series starts this season. He won the Firestone Freedom 100 in May at Indianapolis in his other start.

* J.K. Vernay finished 15th but clinched his first Firestone Indy Lights championship by starting the race.

* This is the fourth Firestone Indy Lights championship for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Also winning titles for the team were Thiago Medeiros (2004), Jay Howard (2006) and Alex Lloyd (2007).

* Rookie Adrian Campos Jr. finished fourth, tying his career best set this season at Iowa and Kentucky. He was the top rookie finisher in this race.

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FUZZY'S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA 100 POST-RACE QUOTES:

BRANDON WAGNER (No. 32 Davey Hamilton Racing, winner): "The car was perfect. I had to make a few changes with the bars when I was battling (James) Hinchcliffe, but he raced me clean. I think the high line in Turns 3 and 4 were the way to go, and my spotter, Dane Carter, did a great job on the radio for me. Hinch gave me all kinds of room up there, and the car freed up and let me get the momentum to get back around him."

(About running wheel-to-wheel with Hinchcliffe): "I'm used to running wheel-to-wheel from my USAC races. Having Davey Hamilton as my coach has helped me transition from Midgets to Indy Lights. He's been a huge benefit for me."

J.K. VERNAY (No.7 Lucas/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, 15th, 2010 Firestone Indy Lights champion): (About season): "It was good, but it is quite difficult to enjoy a title with a race like that. When you finish last, it's … I mean, I'm happy we did a great 12 races, but the last race was horrible. It's difficult for a driver who is competitive to finish last, two laps down. I try to do my job; I'm a professional driver. But when you don't have the package, you don't have the package."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling, second): "It was a good result for us. Sixth to second. But we had such a fun battle out there with Brandon. I thought we had him a couple of times. We packed on a little more downforce because we thought it was going to be hotter than it was and the track a bit slicker. Once I pulled out alongside him in clean air, we couldn't quite complete the pass. Tough day, but our car was super-good in traffic."

PIPPA MANN (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports, fifth): "We put a little too much downforce on the car. We actually thought the track was going to be slipperier than that. I would have much rather made this decision than one that had left us with too little and dropped us back. Not the race-winning decision, but the right decision. I'm so pleased to come home with fifth in the championship."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 77 IZOD Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): "I got a great start. Moved straight up to third, straight up to second. I could hang on to Brandon's gearbox pretty easy in the first stint before the yellow. But people are using a lot of track here, and the conditions are tough, so it's hard to get your timing right. But he chopped off a bit of my air, and I lost momentum, so I dropped back to fourth. We caught a yellow and moved up to third, but that was all we had today. But it's great to be in a race car to be back with Sam and IZOD and other friends who helped put this together. So it's nice to finish the year on a high note. We gave it everything we had, and this is it."

ADRIAN CAMPOS JR. (No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling, fourth): "I need to thank my team first. They gave me a really good car, I think faster than everybody else. The race was really tough. I think in the first restart I lost two positions. I tried to stay in my place and maybe make the podium. In the last 10 laps, I make an extreme pass on the straight line. But I just wanted to get to the podium. I thought I deserved it."

DAN CLARKE (No. 40 Wasteco Deans Knight Special, 17th): "The 10 car lost it on his own a few positions ahead of me. I saw him spinning and he went low, so I went high and then he spun around again and went back up high, and I didn't have any room. It's a sad way to end the season, really. We had a really good year and achieved a lot with Walker Racing. We had some great results and great times, and I'm really grateful to Derrick (Walker) for giving me this opportunity. We were so close to getting fifth in the series. It's not right to have my race taken away from me by someone else's mistake."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen, 13th): "Every time I get in the race car, it's a lot of fun. Sometimes it's more fun than others. I think we had a really good day with the car we had. We brought it home in one piece. The whole AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport guys worked hard all year. I would have liked to have finished on the podium for the end of the season for them. It just wasn't in the cards for the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen car today. I have to thank my engineer Blair and my whole crew; they've worked really hard all year. They've really made the difference as to why we're continually up front."

MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing, sixth): "That was a lot of fun out there. I came into this weekend with no expectations, just to enjoy myself. I want to say a big thank you to the No. 27 crew and the No. 26 crew because it's really one big family, and we all work together. It was the last race of a very good season for us. The race today wasn't as good as it could have been. We had a strong car but we didn't seem to quite have the speed we needed. We hung in there and came away with a solid sixth-place finish. We definitely deserve to celebrate for the great year we've had."

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2010 Firestone Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay had a special guest at the Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka 100 today - his grandfather Jacques Vernay.

J.K. flew his grandfather to Miami from their native France.

J.K. VERNAY: "I told him I would fly him over for a race for his 70th birthday, which was three weeks ago. This was the first chance he had to come over to watch. He was a rally racer in France."

source: irl

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Series INDYLIGHTS