JK Vernay increases his championship lead on the Iowa Speedway The Iowa Speedway is a much shorter oval than Indianapolis so it was another new challenge for Frenchman, JK Vernay, in the fifth round of the Indy Lights Championship. He put on a...
JK Vernay increases his championship lead on the Iowa Speedway
The Iowa Speedway is a much shorter oval than Indianapolis so it was another new challenge for Frenchman, JK Vernay, in the fifth round of the Indy Lights Championship. He put on a stunning display finishing third overall and best rookie. His fourth podium finish of the year helped him increase his lead in the provisional championship classification.
The Sam Schmidt Motorsport driver was on the ball straight away in his second outing on an oval. In free practice, JK was fourth only 5/100s off the quickest time. In qualifying he made it into the top three. The procedure included a warm-up lap on the 0.894 mile (1439 metre) layout, then a first flying lap, which the Frenchman covered in 20.1247s, followed by a second one in 20.0358s. The two times were added together to decide the grid positions. "I went out on new tyres at the start of the free session, but I'd like to have put on another set at the end to test the car in qualifying conditions with a low fuel load. During my two flying laps I think I could have gone a bit quicker but I was not expecting such grip."
A final free session enabled all the drivers to fine-tune their race setup on full tanks. Vernay showed again his capacity to adapt quickly to what is an extremely unfamiliar environment for a European driver, and again set the third-quickest time.
Overtaking is not easy on a short oval but JK did everything he could to better his third place at the start. "You're almost rubbing the wall and then you dive in at the apex and come out wide, which means that you're never really racing two abreast. Often you lose downforce behind another car." Hardly had the race begun when there was a neutralisation due to Charlie Kimball's shunt. Vernay then tried to snatch second place from Martin Plowman but the British driver shut the door. The pace car was back out again just after half distance as there was debris on the track. JK again tried to sneak past Plowman but thought better of it as with Kimball out, his position was a good one in terms of the championship, so he decided to hold station. On lap 80, he set the second-fastest time in the race, and on lap 115 the young Frenchman took the flag in third place 1.3s behind the winner.
After the Barber Motorsports Park, where JK took his second win of the season in April, the teams will head on to their second road circuit of the season. On 4th July, Independence Day, they will be at Watkins Glen. Although the legendary circuit has not seen Formula 1 cars since 1980, it remains a mythic place for motor racing fans from New York State and many parts of Northern America. "I'm going to do a lot of training on the simulator as Watkins Glen is a tricky, hilly track that's both quick and very technical. We won't have a lot of practice there. All my rivals know it well, which isn't my case."