MANN MAKES HISTORY BY WINNING FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 POLE
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 27, 2010) - Pippa Mann became the first female pole winner in the 101-year-old history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, earning the top starting spot for the Firestone Freedom 100.
Mann, driving the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, is the second female pole sitter in Firestone Indy Lights history, joining Sarah McCune in 2005 at Chicagoland Speedway. She recorded a two-lap average speed of 187.989 mph (1 minute, 35.7505 seconds) on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 40-lap race on May 28.
Wade Cunningham, seeking to win the Firestone Freedom 100 for a third time, will start on the front row after posting an average speed of 187.742 mph in the No. 77 Lucas Oil/BSS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
Charlie Kimball in the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen entry for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport (187.375) and teammate Martin Plowman (187.209) will share Row 2.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS FIELD NOTES:
* Pippa Mann became the first woman to win a pole position for a race in the 101-year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She qualified eighth for this event last year.
* This is Pippa Mann's first career Firestone Indy Lights pole. Her previous best start was third in October 2009 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
* This is the second time a woman has won a pole for a Firestone Indy Lights race. Sarah McCune won the pole for the race in 2005 at Chicagoland Speedway.
* The pole winner has won the Firestone Freedom 100 every year except for 2007, when Alex Lloyd won from the No. 2 starting position.
* Wade Cunningham qualified second, his fourth front-row start for this event in six appearances. He won the pole in 2006 and 2009 and qualified second in 2005.
* Pippa Mann and Wade Cunningham drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. This is the only the second time that teammates have swept the front row for the Firestone Freedom 100. Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammates Jaime Camara and Travis Gregg qualified first and second, respectively, in 2005.
* Sam Schmidt Motorsports has placed at least one driver in the front row of the Firestone Freedom 100 every year since 2004. The inaugural race was 2003.
* Pippa Mann's previous best starting position this season was 12th at Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park.
* Points leader J.K. Vernay is starting sixth, the first time this season off the front row. He won the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and started second at St. Petersburg and Long Beach.
FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 QUALIFYING QUOTES:
PIPPA MANN (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports, pole): "These guys just gave me an awesome car. They gave me just a fantastic car. I just went out there and did my best to pedal it. We made a lot of changes. We had a great time in the morning, adjusting the front wing on the race car and running in traffic and not running in speed. This afternoon when it got hot, we went to work on speed. We found some things that really helped. We found some things that made my life more difficult but made the car quicker. For this afternoon, we decided to rein it in a little bit so it would come home all in one piece. Whatever they reined in, they did it perfectly. It was just awesome out there. I didn't expect the car to be that fast in clean air. I knew I had a fantastic car in traffic, but I was quicker than I thought I would be in clean air. I'm really, really excited. The balance was even better (qualifying) than it was in traffic. We'll go back to that car (setup) we had this morning as the race car, but with a couple of tweaks we found that we really like - those might stay. I have a car that I can drive inside, I have a car I can drive outside, I have a car that likes the dirty air, I have a car that likes to be out front."
BRANDON WAGNER (No. 32 Davey Hamilton Racing, 16th): "We had to make a quick motor change before qualifying and the guys were thrashing as best they could, but we just ran out of fuel. Coming to the green, it just went out of fuel. The car was underpresured when we took the green coming out of (Turn) 4. Coming to the green, it went out of fuel, so it went out pretty early. But, I mean, the car felt great for the one corner. I went flat in (Turn) 3, and after that, my dash was saying fuel pressure, and I knew right away that I was out of fuel. It's very frustrating. We had a very fast race car here today. Now we have to go out for the Hard Charger Award tomorrow, but we'll move on. It's just frustrating. The guys worked hard, and to have something small like this happen, it's frustrating for everybody."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport, 12th): "For sure, it's the hottest we've been around even from the Indy cars. So it's something that will upset the combination of the setup. I think maybe we made a wrong choice because of the conditions. But the important thing here is the race. In the Indy Lights, it is not as important in the qualifying as the Indy car. We'll just be very positive and try to do our best in the race."
(What are the challenges of driving in both the Firestone Freedom 100 and the Indianapolis 500?): "Lots of challenges. It's two completely different cars - speeds, feels. But we're up to the challenge. The William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport racing team are doing an incredible job, and we're just trying to put everything together and do good in both races. That's our goal."
(How are you after the Indianapolis 500 practice crash?): "We went to Methodist (Hospital) at the end. As soon as we knew that we were in the show, it was the best medicine. I had no pain at all after that. It's something that made us very happy after that. Watching the face of my crew chief and all of my mechanics made me feel a lot better. It gives us a very positive energy to approach this race."
(How did you feel in the car today?): "I felt perfect. I was just a little bit stiff yesterday, and today it is a lot better, so we are looking forward to the race."
RODRIGO BARBOSA (No. 18 PDM Racing, 14th): "Qualifying was pretty good. Obviously, for the race we want to be better. I feel more confident because I am working with a nice team this year. I'm looking forward to a good season. It was a smooth run. We set up the car to qualify, so now I have to focus for the race."
MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers,/KEP Printing, fourth): "Qualifying only is one part of it. We have a really long race ahead of us. We have 40 laps ahead of us now. It's important that I've been here before. It helps to avoid the mistakes. I think I'm the better for it this year."
STEFAN WILSON (No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport, 13th): "I would have liked to have gone a little bit quicker, but we have been focusing very hard on race setup. That qualifying setup wasn't quite there. We've been working toward the race, and hopefully that will pay off tomorrow. I'm not too disappointed. There is a lot of build-up to this (qualifying). It's a bit nerve-wracking, but I had a good time. We have a good race car. This is my first try at this (oval and Indianapolis). This is a baptism of fire. I'm really looking forward to having some good fun out there in the traffic."
J.K. VERNAY (No.7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, sixth): "It was great to race here. Qualifying wasn't so bad. I think we had a good result. Qualifying is not that important. I just wanted to bein the top six or seven. We will see in the race. We have a lot to learn because this is a new thing for me. A good pace for the race is what we need. I'm happy and focusing on the race now."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 77 Lucas Oil/BSS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, second): "We're struggling a little bit with car pace at the Open Test and this morning, but that's why that is practice and this is qualifying. You never know what people are doing. You can try to sort through the data and what people are doing. That's why we have qualifying to really figure it out. It's good that we're up here. It makes it a lot easier to set the car up. I don't have to compromise with the setup. It's a great place to start, and obviously Pippa did a great job to get the pole."
GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 10 Cape Motorsport with Wayne Taylor Racing, ninth): "It was an OK run; it could have been a bit better. The car was loose going into that first turn, so I had to dial it in. Pretty windy, really warm. The track is really greasy. The ambient temperature is really hot, so that means less downforce and less grip. That makes it a very hard race car to drive. The speeds are not too high, so we'll see what happens in the race. The car is really good in traffic."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 4 Andersen Racing IZOD, 15th): "It's not really one thing, but we're missing a lot of outright speed. The car feels pretty good. It feels really stable. I think we'll have something to work with in the race. It's just missing that qualifying pace. Hopefully, we can work on it tonight and move up through the field. This car is synonymous with starting in the back and finishing up front. Hopefully, we can keep that trend going. It's not too inspiring, but I'm pretty confident that my experience will get me to the front. I had my sights set on the Indy 500, but when that fell through, I still wanted to be a part of the weekend and wanted to be a part of this event. What better race to do that than the Indy Lights Freedom 100? I've finished on the podium here before, and I wanted to come back and prove I can win here. Andersen Racing has been such a strong team on the ovals. I figured that would be the best fit. So we made the deal, and hopefully the car works out a little bit better. I'm confident in the guys to turn it around. We have all night to think about it."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen, third): "Both practice sessions this morning we worked on the race pace in the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen car, and it was good. We have got to be happy with that result. It's not up front. It's not on pole, but we have got to hold on. I'm quicker than my teammate, and we've got a really good race car. From there we can go and have a shot at it tomorrow."
DAN CLARKE (No. 40 Wasteco Deans Knight Special, 10th): "It's my first time ever qualifying at the Speedway. We're not sure where we are yet because the track is really hot. A lot of guys ran really slow considering how they ran this morning. This morning we were P4. It would have been nice to have been a little more on edge. That session (qualifying) felt really, really grippy. The guys have done a great job improving the car since the first time on this track two weeks ago when we were 14th. We've been making good progress. The Walker guys are great guys. Ever since we started this deal at Barber, we have been making progress at every step of the way."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Team E, fifth): "We had in issue in qualifying. We had a fuel pump problem in the morning practice and didn't have enough time to change it. We were able to qualify a little better than I thought we would. The team has given me a tremendous car, and I think I have a good shot to win the race."
(About returning to Firestone Indy Lights): "The feel of the car came back right away, but then it was just a matter of taking a little time and trying feel out what it's like in traffic and turbulence and changing conditions. That's where it will get you. The feel of the car is a little like riding a bike. I was just looking to get back into a car and have some fun. I have been given a good opportunity, and hopefully we're going to be able to help deliver a win."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR -Xtreme Coil Drilling, eighth): "The car actually felt fine balance-wise. But obviously it's not the speed we wanted. It's pretty disappointing for us to be outside of Row 4. It's definitely not a good place to be starting here for this race. But at the same time it's a long race. There's a bunch of rookies starting in front of us, and it's their first oval race. We'll see how they manage those first corners and the first couple of laps. Hopefully, it will be up to us to make some moves and get up with the likes of Wade (Cunningham) and Charlie (Kimball) and Martin (Plowman) and the other returning guys. That's all we can do now, is try to focus on the race car, because obviously we didn't have the one lap speed we needed. Tough break today, but we'll try and bounce back tomorrow."
ADRIAN CAMPOS JR. (No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling): "This is the first time I was alone on the track, the first time on an oval, everything was very, very strange. I like oval racing, and everything will improve in the race. I was pretty excited. I just want to have fun in the race. I don't want to take any risks. We have to get faster speeds in race, and we will do it. This track has a lot of history. It is a pleasure to drive here."
FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 FRONT ROW MEDIA AVAILABILITY QUOTES:
PIPPA MANN (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports, pole): (About being first female pole winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway):"I don't know if it's sunk in yet. If I'm still P1 at the end of tomorrow, I don't know what I'll do. All I can do is give a huge thank you to all of my guys and everybody on the Sam Schmidt Motorsports Team. I'm at a loss for words. This is fantastic." (About starting on pole): "It's the first time I've ever started on pole in a (Firestone) Indy Lights race, so that's going to be really interesting to find out what that is like. We had a good racecar this morning and hopefully, it will carry over until tomorrow. Let's see how many laps we can lead and hopefully we can lead the one that matters at the end."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 77 Lucas Oil/BSS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, second): "We didn't expect to be on the front row. I came to the Open Test (on May 14) having not driven since Miami last October. By ourselves, none of our team cars were that quick over a single lap. Handling was another story, but when you are going for outright speed for qualifying, it's difficult to extract that last little bit out. We didn't think we had it. I know the guys put in a lot of work the last couple of weeks, not just on my car, but on all of them, but I was still worried after practice because we couldn't pull up on cars as quickly as I would liked, and we didn't have the advantage that I remembered having last year. But now that qualifying is over and two of our cars posted big speeds, it was obviously nothing to worry about, and we got our knickers in a twist over nothing. It's great to be on front row. I'm disappointed to miss out on pole by a tenth, but that's the way it goes."