Perera Has Solid Debut at Iowa With Mixed Results for His Teammate With the historic floods plaguing Iowa, many skeptics doubted the Jeld-Wen 100 at Iowa Speedway would occur this past weekend, but the fans and drivers proclaimed the race...
Perera Has Solid Debut at Iowa With Mixed Results for His Teammate
With the historic floods plaguing Iowa, many skeptics doubted the Jeld-Wen 100 at Iowa Speedway would occur this past weekend, but the fans and drivers proclaimed the race must go on! The Firestone Indy Lights teams were back at Iowa for the second year in a row and another exciting race was on hand.
Guthrie Racing came into the weekend with high expectations after Logan Gomez topped the time charts at practice the week prior, and Sean Guthrie and Franck Perera stood solidly in the top ten. (Mickey Gilbert was on vacation during the open test.) The first few test sessions for the race started off just as the team has planned with three of the four drivers running up front. Going into qualifying, each driver made slight setup changes to their race cars and waited anxiously to get things underway as they watched a huge storm cloud heading their way.
The teams got a taste of the torrential rains that caused the statewide flooding as qualifying was delayed a few hours when the storm finally struck minutes before the original scheduled qualifying time. The short period of heavy rain turned out to cause catastrophic changes to the track for some of the drivers setups, while not affecting others nearly as much.
Perera, although brand new to the team, had the best finish among the team's drivers starting in 9th and flying pass the checkered flag in 11th. Perera showed how quick he was at adapting to new cars and new tracks by showcasing some amazing side-by-side racing competing for the top ten while keeping his nose clean.
"Overall I was very happy with my performance this weekend," Perera said. "I had a sharp learning curve to figure out a new car and race on only my second career oval all within a weeks time frame. I am confident I can run upfront with best drivers in the series and I'm excited to see what I can do for the team and myself for the remainder of the season." Perera is already excited to get back in the seat and continue his impressive run in the series.
"I can't wait for Watkins Glen in a few weeks," Perera exclaimed. "Road courses are my specialty so I plan on having a strong showing in my second race for the team and series."
Gilbert, recently returning from Australia, showed that his vacation was well deserved as he posted his second best result of the season finishing in 13th. His result was even more inspiring after making up seven spots during the race starting from the 20th position.
"I had a very solid car today thanks to everyone at Guthrie Racing," Gilbert said. "I was pretty disappointed with my qualifying as I was flat footed around the track and the car felt great, but the speed just wasn't there. I knew I had a good setup for the race and as soon as the green flag dropped I starting charging through the field. I knew I could challenge for the top ten, but I ran out of laps. Having three consistent teammates for the rest of the season has already helped me tremendously this weekend and I know we will continue to help each other as the season progresses."
Right behind Gilbert, was fellow teammate Gomez who had struggled from the moment the track went green after the heavy rain. He finished 14th, one position higher than his 15th starting position, but was hoping for a lot more after running so strong in the open test a week before.
"I don't know what happened to the car this weekend," Gomez pondered. "I was in the top 5 after practice and was feeling confident going into qualifying, but the rain changed the track so much making my car super loose. We were hoping to have made some positive changes for the race, but the handling just wasn't there. All I could do was put my head down and drive my Menards Guthrie Racing car as hard as I could."
Guthrie suffered a similar fate as he had ran 4th in the final practice, made minor changes for qualifying and suddenly found his car handling as if it was on ice. He nearly lost the back end during qualifying but made a miraculous save and kept it off of the wall. Doing so he had to slow down tremendously during his two laps ending up in the 21st starting position.
"We had a top 5 car this weekend and we were planning on competing for the win," Guthrie explained. "But sometimes things just don't go your way. After qualifying we were confused at why things had changed so drastically so we went back to our original setup from when we were 4th quick in practice, but it didn't help for the race and the car was still loose sliding all over the place."
Guthrie was running a great race even with his handling issues, but suffered another string of unfortunate luck as he picked up a vicious vibration half way through the race. The vibration was so intense that the pit crew could hear his voice shaking over the radio and Guthrie later reported that he could barely see the track anymore. On lap 78 he decided to come into the pits and park his car before an inevitable crash occurred. He ended up finishing in 20th after some earlier incidents on the track knock out a few drivers. The cause of the vibration is still unknown.
With the weekend behind them, the team heads to Watkins Glen for an open test on Wednesday June 25th as they prepare for the double-header race at the Glen on July 5th. It is nearly the halfway point through the season and Guthrie Racing has been making a big impact on the series with its four car team and plans to continue its success in the nine remanding races.