Iowa: Series qualifying and race notes

NEWTON, IOWA (Saturday, June 20, 2009) - Ana Beatriz earned her second career Firestone Indy Lights victory, passing Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Wade Cunningham with nine laps to go in the Miller Lite 100. Cunningham, who finished second at...

NEWTON, IOWA (Saturday, June 20, 2009) - Ana Beatriz earned her second career Firestone Indy Lights victory, passing Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Wade Cunningham with nine laps to go in the Miller Lite 100.

Cunningham, who finished second at Iowa in 2007 after leading 105 of 115 laps, passed pole sitter J.R. Hildebrand for the lead on Lap 4 and led the next 103 laps. He and Beatriz caught up to Sebastian Saavedra on the backstretch on Lap 107, and Beatriz was able to get past on the high side while Cunningham was forced to slow.

The night was a success for team owner Sam Schmidt as his drivers recorded the first 1-2-3 finish by teammates in series history. James Hinchcliffe was third.

***

With Sunday being Father's Day, Firestone Indy Lights drivers took the opportunity generated by Friday's rainout to shop for gifts.

James Hinchcliffe settled on a card for his dad, who will watch his son race at Iowa Speedway from pit lane, while Martin Plowman hopes to give his dad, Mark, a much better prize - a race win.

Charlie Kimball, whose father Gordon helped design Indianapolis 500-winning cars in the 1980s, said he wouldn't be racing if father hadn't been involved in racing.

MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 15 Panther Racing): "In the UK, Father's Day is the same day as it is here. Mother's Day is on different days so my mom gets two gifts. But my dad is my best friend and has been my biggest supporter at every stage of my career. I can't think of a better gift for my dad (than a win)."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 35 Palm Beach International Raceway): "I was exposed to racing because of him. He started me in go-karts so we could have some more time together, so I wouldn't be here because of him. He's not here this weekend, but I should be home tomorrow so I can take him to dinner."

***

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

* J.R. Hildebrand wins his third pole of the season. He also won the pole at St. Petersburg 1 and Long Beach. This is his first career pole on an oval.

* Wade Cunningham qualified on the front row for the third time in the last four races.

* Daniel Herrington qualified a season-best fourth. His previous best was ninth at Indianapolis.

* Brandon Wagner qualified a career-best 10th. His previous best was 17th at Indianapolis.

***

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League: #16 Pippa Mann and #21 James Davison were checked and released at the infield care center. They are cleared to drive.

PIPPA MANN (No. 16 Panther Racing): "I am not sure what happened. The car was tight when we started tonight, and I tried to move my adjustments around to help. I ended up with the car still very tight but then very loose as we got to the middle of the race. It made my life very interesting. I was sitting back and I think I had just touched with Brandon Wagner and that caused the first spin. I came into the pits and we made adjustments to the car, but unfortunately it went the wrong way. I moved my in-car adjustments some more, but I was still struggling quite a bit. I don't know if it was the spin or the adjustments we had made. I was just riding it out, but it was difficult since we were so off the pace, and it was difficult to stay out of the way of the lead lap cars. I was doing my best to stay out of the way, and I don't know what happened then. I just know I got hit, and I saw the wall coming, and I said - I won't tell you what I said. It is not printable, but it was something like, 'Oh crap!' I said that repeatedly, and then I was upside down. I could smell the sparks, and by the time the car stopped I had my belts off and hands on the ground and ripped out my ear phones trying to get out since I wanted to get out as quickly as I could because of the smell of the sparks. That was my first time upside down."

JAMES DAVISON (No. 21 People*s Liberation/Vision Racing): "There were two laps to go and (J.R.) Hildebrand, (Charlie) Kimball and myself were all battling for position, and we were running into a bunch of lapped traffic, and ultimately Pippa (Mann), who was off pace battling a loose car. Running behind J.R., my car just went up into her and we tangled and that was it. The most frustrating thing is to do damage to the car with two laps remaining in the race. We didn't lose much. We were running seventh and ended up tenth. For sure it is not good and having to deal with that."

***

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League: #44 Gustavo Yacaman is being transported to Mercy Hospital for evaluation. He began experiencing abdominal pain during the race.

***

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE NOTES:

* Ana Beatriz earns her second career victory. She also won at Nashville in 2008. She is the only female driver to win in Firestone Indy Lights.

* This is Beatriz's fourth top-five finish of the season.

* This is the 28th victory for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, most of any team in Firestone Indy Lights.

* This is the first time in Firestone Indy Lights history that teammates have finished 1-2-3.

* This is the fifth time in Firestone Indy Lights history that teammates have finished 1-2. Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers have accomplished the feat the last four times, most recently at Chicagoland in 2007.

* Wade Cunningham finished second for the second time at Iowa Speedway. He also finished second in 2007 after leading the first 105 laps of that race.

* Cunningham has four consecutive top-six finishes.

* James Hinchcliffe finished third, tying his career-best. He also finished third at St. Peterburg 2 and Long Beach. This is his best finish on an oval.

* Mario Romancini finished fourth, his fourth consecutive top-four finish.

* Gustavo Yacaman finished fifth, his second consecutive top-five finish.

* Charlie Kimball tied his career-best finish with a seventh.

***

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE QUOTES:

SAM SCHMIDT (Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "I think that is our first 1-2-3. It is a great effort for the team. It was a brand new car they had to build up the last few weeks. This made up for all those hours."

ANA BEATRIZ (No. 20 Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, first): "I was thinking and wanting to finish the race today. We qualified sixth, but it was great at the start of the race and it was very competitive. I was fortunate to find the right time to pass Wade (Cunningham). There was a lot of lapped cars out there when that happened. It was all about momentum. Wow, I can't believe I got first and Sam Schmidt got a 1-2-3. It is unbelievable. At the finish, I was thinking it was just unbelievable. I nearly crashed there at the end right there around the flipped car. This team deserves it. I really want to celebrate with them tonight. The last couple of weeks have been tough missing out on sponsorship and then finding a way to come back."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, second): "Sebastien Saavedra is 25 laps down, running flat out because he has good tires. The team said, 'Hey, just let him go; he's just going to keep driving forward.' I was just saving my tires, so I just let him go. The minute he got in front of me, he slowed down half-a-second a lap because he knows I'm fighting him for the championship and he was out of the race. It's probably the most unsportsmanlike thing I've ever seen on the racetrack, apart from shunting someone into a wall. I hope the stewards do something because if they don't, I will."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): "What a night. First of all, with the delays it was tough. Everyone was in the wrong frame of mind heading into tonight and it was tough to stay focused. We had a pretty good car at the start, running fourth there behind Daniel (Herrington) and then just sort of started losing it when I got side-by-side in traffic. I did a lot of work in the cockpit with the weightjacker and front bars trying to get it back. Slowly the car started coming back to us.Then it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. It's tough to stay out of trouble at a short track like Iowa. I had contact with Daniel at one point and nearly took out both of my teammates at one point. There was some great wheel-to-wheel racing. I'm glad that the weather held off, and congratulations to Sam Schmidt Motorsports on the great race."

MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 5 Revita/Win Brazil/Allied/RLR Andersen, fourth): "I'm very happy with the finish, because we didn't have a good qualifying and started (13th). It's good for the championship because we scored good points, and let's go for the next one now. It's a very tough track and it's difficult to pass, and that's why I'm happy with our finish and scoring good points."

GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 44 Crepes & Waffles/Tuvacol/SSM, fifth): "It was a very hard race. The car was really hard to drive because we had a lot of push. I just let the race come to me and kept four tires on the car."

-credit: irl

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Charlie Kimball , Pippa Mann , Wade Cunningham , James Davison , Daniel Herrington , James Hinchcliffe , Sebastian Saavedra , Brandon Wagner , Martin Plowman , J.R. Hildebrand , Ana Beatriz , Mario Romancini , Gustavo Yacaman
Teams Panther Racing