Indianapolis: Series race report

CUNNINGHAM WINS THIRD FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 28, 2010 - On Miller Lite Carb Day, Wade Cunningham became a three-time winner of the Firestone Freedom 100 edging Charlie Kimball by .4368 of a second. The victory for ...

CUNNINGHAM WINS THIRD FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 28, 2010 - On Miller Lite Carb Day, Wade Cunningham became a three-time winner of the Firestone Freedom 100 edging Charlie Kimball by .4368 of a second.

The victory for Cunningham, driving the No. 77 Lucas Oil/BSS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, gave team owner Sam Schmidt his fifth win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in eight Firestone Freedom 100 starts.

Kimball moved within five points of series point leader J.K. Vernay, who finished 16th after an early mechanical issue. James Hinchcliffe, who started eighth in the No. 2 Team Moore Racing car, finished third.

ZZ Top headlined a concert to conclude the busy day.

FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 TOP TWO QUICK QUOTES:

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 77 Lucas Oil/BSS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, winner): "The whole time I thought Charlie (Kimball) was driving a smart race and hanging back. I thought he was going to have something the last 10 laps. But really, his car wasn't good in the draft."

(Could you have passed him if he passed you on the final few laps?): "Absolutely. You saw how easy it was for me to pass Charlie. We had the gearing right."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen, second): "The setup wasn't exactly where we wanted it to be. I ran out of tools about midway through the race. When Vernay came through and ran in front of us, it kind of chewed up the front tires. That didn't help. His (Wade Cunningham) experience around here won the race, for sure."

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MILLER LITE CARB DAY NOTEBOOK:

Pippa Mann made Indianapolis Motor Speedway history Thursday by becoming the first woman to win the pole position for a race in the 101-year history of the facility, capturing the Sunoco Pole Award for the Firestone Freedom 100.

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FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 POST-RACE NOTES:

* Wade Cunningham earned his record third Firestone Freedom 100 victory. He also won in 2006 and 2009. He is the only driver to win this race more than once.

* Sam Schmidt Motorsports earned its fifth victory in the Firestone Freedom 100, more than any other team. It also won in 2004 (Thiago Medeiros), 2005 (Jaime Camara), 2007 (Alex Lloyd) and 2009 (Cunningham).

* Wade Cunningham earned his second consecutive Firestone Freedom 100 victory with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. He won the race in 2006 with Brian Stewart Racing.

* Wade Cunningham earned a victory in his first Firestone Indy Lights start of the season. This was his seventh career Firestone Indy Lights victory. His last win came last August at Kentucky Speedway.

* Charlie Kimball finished second for the third consecutive race this season. This was his career-best finish at this race, as his previous best was 13th in 2009.

* James Hinchcliffe earned his second podium finish of the season by placing third. He won in April at Long Beach.

* Dan Clarke finished a season-best fourth. His previous best was seventh in April at Barber Motorsports Park.

* Martin Plowman finished fifth, his best in this event. His previous best was 22nd in 2009.

* Philip Major finished a season-best fifth. His previous best was seventh in April at Long Beach.

* Jean-Karl Vernay finished 13th, his first finish off the podium this season. He won at St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park and finished third at Long Beach.

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FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 POST-RACE QUOTES:

DAN CLARKE (No. 40 Wasteco Deans Knight Special, fourth): "Wow. That was my first ever Freedom 100 and my first-ever Speedway race. That was awesome. I really enjoyed that. We're new to this car. This is our third race together, so we're still finding our feet, but that race car was good. I could really keep the foot down in the corners. It is just a bit unfortunate at the end that (James) Hinchcliffe blocked me. We already had the rules stated to us this morning that you don't change your line when someone is right behind you, and Hinch just drove all the way down inside into (Turn) 1. It stopped me getting past him. So we're hoping that justice can have its day, and we're going to get third place for that. I think we deserve that. Other than that, I'm relieved to finish, because that's one hairy race."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR -Xtreme Coil Drilling, third): "Bittersweet day, really. Starting eighth, it was great to get the car up on the podium. The car was a rocket ship all day. We managed to get all the way to the leader's gearbox, but ultimately, it was a lap car that came into play and assisted in me losing the draft and second place. That's bittersweet. Getting up to third is a good result, and huge thanks to the boys. But at the same time, I think we could have been running with the two lead cars and challenging for the win."

ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 4 Andersen Racing IZOD, 14th): "The fuel pressure light came on. I don't know what's going on. The car never had speed. All weekend the car's been slow. I don't know what more to do. I don't know if something let go in the motor. But the motor just shut off. Maybe that's the problem we've been having all along. It's just kind of a waste. The car's great. Flat is all you can go. And if the guys are walking away from you, there's nothing you can do. Driving my butt off to finish last is not my ideal situation for a good comeback."

BRANDON WAGNER (No. 32 Davey Hamilton Racing, eighth): "The day was what we had expected. Unfortunately, we had a little problem. We had to change engines right before qualifying (Friday), so we were hoping the engine was fine, and it proved to be good right from the start. I was able to make a couple of moves right away and run down a big line in front of us. The car was really good in traffic. At the end, the tires were going away and the car was getting a little free down in (Turns) 1 and 2 on the exit. You have to expect that the way the heat was today and the tires the way they were. Overall, we were hoping to get a top five, but we'll take a top 10."

ADRIAN CAMPOS JR. (No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling, 10th): "We could have finished closer to the front, but we had a problem with the right front tire. We kept burning it out and then coming in to the pits to change it. Later in the race, the car was very, very good, and I could do whatever I wanted when I was trying to overtake other drivers. It was my first oval race, and I didn't want to take risks. I just wanted to finish the race. I enjoyed it. We had a top-five car, and this is a top team."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Team E, 15th): "Well, I'm very disappointed for all of us at Team E and our sponsor Zymol. We had a really good car, and I feel terrible that we couldn't bring the car home. We've been fighting a fuel pressure problem since yesterday, and it turns out that we didn't get it completely solved today. Even with that, though, we were still a contender. We kept getting pushed down low and, for some reason or another, the car snapped around and got real loose. We're not sure if it was mechanical or not, and we haven't been able to go through the data yet. Unfortunately, we collected Pippa Mann, and we're disappointed about that, as well as losing our car. It's just very disappointing."

MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing, ): "It was a bit of a boring race for me, really. I had a great start. I went from the outside of Row 2, got second place ahead of the pole sitter. Then my teammate got a good run on me on the outside between (Turn) 1 and 2. I kind of let him go because we're working together as teammates and wanted to get to the front of the pack. After the yellow period, the car just developed a really severe push. I tried to dial it out as far as I could inside the car . I was really battling a push the rest of the race. That really hindered me. I had to keep getting out of the throttle to avoid hitting the wall. Today's a really hot day. I think the conditions got us out by surprise."

STEFAN WILSON (No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport, seventh): "After yesterday, I was a little bit worried about what we had in store for the race. Our work during the week paid off for a good race setup. In the race, the car was handling really good. I kept making a lot of adjustments in the cockpit, and it really paid off. I'm really pleased with seventh place. We got some good solid points for the championship. Not bad for my first Indy race."

PHILIP MAJOR (No.49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports, sixth): "I had a fantastic first run here. I'm just really thrilled to be here. It's pretty much just a learning experience for me. It's my first time on an oval. I think at the beginning I was pretty confident in my car. But then at the end when it starts falling off, I just have a bit to learn as far as how to drive the car and adjust it to where it's a good balance."

(On the difficulty adjusting to oval racing): "About halfway through the race, my tires started going off and I had a really big moment coming out of (Turn) 3, which is pretty scary. But I just made some adjustments in the car. What people don't see is you're constantly making small adjustments with your hands as the car is walking up the track. If you see the driver crossing the hands, it's usually going to end up pretty poorly."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport, ninth): "The race didn't go our way. We didn't have the car to go in traffic, and that's a shame. Five laps into the race, we were having lots of trouble. That's racing. We'll continue working, continue making the car better. So the next time we come here we will know. We brought the car (home) in one piece. Now let's go for the Indianapolis 500."

PIPPA MANN (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "I've got some pretty bruised feet, and I'm going to have a very sore neck tomorrow. I'm pretty angry, but I'm OK."

(About crash): "So the blue car (Simmons) pulls out on the inside, gets pinched down really, really hard on the white line by the car on the outside(Plowman), gives him no room. He spins, slides up the track, whacks me because I'm the car behind. That's what I see on the replay. It was an accident that didn't need to happen, but it's actually not the No. 17 car's (Simmons) fault, in my opinion. He got pushed down really, really hard. I saw it unfolding, but there was nothing I could do about it."

J.K. VERNAY (No.7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "I didn't do a great race because I had a problem with the car, and we lost everything (power). I had no power after Turn 1 at the green flag. I don't know what the problem was. We can be happy because I know I can be really fast on the oval, and that's good for the rest of the year. The car was good. I really wanted to win, but it's motorsports. Sometimes you have mechanical problems, sometimes you crash and sometimes you win. The team did a good job. I'm happy for Wade (Cunningham) that he won. (Running between leader and second place) I wasn't trying to overtake Wade (Cunningham), wasn't trying to be quicker, because I was five laps down. I just wanted to really conserve his first place and help him. That's why I was behind him. After my engineer told me that, I had to go down, let them race. That's why I lifted. We had a little problem with the radio, but it turned out not to be a big deal."

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The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues May 30 with the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway The race will air live on VERSUS.

-source: irl

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Series INDYLIGHTS