Points Battle Tightened Up at Chicagoland
Gregg picks up; McCune Involved in Crash
JOLIET, Ill. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports picked up 10 points in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series championship battle with Travis Gregg finishing sixth in Sunday's Chicago 100 at Chicagoland Speedway. Pole winner Sarah McCune, the first woman to start a MIPS race from the pole, led until she was involved in a crash on the fifth lap.
Jeff Simmons won the race.
Chris Festa started eighth but didn't get a chance to see what his car would do before he saw race leader and teammate McCune tangle with second place Jay Drake on the fifth lap. What followed was a five car crash, with McCune landing on the nose of the #19 SpacePak/CareCentric Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry in turn four. Festa's 11th-place finish leaves him sixth in the standings with 323 points. McCune, a native of Perrysburg, Ohio, retired from the race due to the damage on her #8 Trick My Truck Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.
Jaime Camara, a Brazilian who now lives in Miami, Fla., started and finished sixth. Camara's #1 CELG/Goias Sam Schmidt Motorsports moved around the top five through the middle portion of the race and led lap 15 before settling in for the sixth-place finish. He is fifth in the standings with 357 points. Gregg saw the crash wreckage slide up the track in front of him, but he drove the #7 Lucas Oil Special/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry safely through to finish fifth. The Camden, Ohio, driver remains second in the points chase with 408.
"The car was good today. I think I had a lot more car than I was able to show in the later stages of the race. After watching Sarah and Jay slide across the track in front of me and hit Chris, I guess I was trying to make sure I'd be there for the checkered flag. I know we picked up some points today, but I'd rather get them racing, not with the points leader getting caught up in a crash," said Gregg.
Camara managed to miss seeing the crash, but not getting a peek at the front of the field.
"I had a good race car in the beginning. We were running at the point where everyone was running close. It was hard to pass, it was like a dog fight. From the middle to the end, the car started losing. I could hang in there, but my car wasn't strong enough to pass. That was my day. It was a good race," said Camara.
Festa ended up with a front row seat to the five-car crash at lap five.
"Going into three, I saw Sarah and Jay bump wheels, I saw a lot of tire smoke and I saw them down on the apron. I went high, figuring it was the best place to go, and I had a car inside of me, so that was really the only thing I could do. I was running the high line and Sarah showed up out of nowhere in front of me," said Festa, a sophomore at Florida State University.
McCune was frustrated about the crash, but still mindful of her accomplishments in her MIPS debut.
"It was great to win the pole in my first Pro Series race," said McCune. "I don't know why that (crash) happened, he was all the way under the white line when we got together. It's not the way you want any race day to go, especially not when you're leading. I'm OK, just frustrated."
Sam Schmidt knows his road course program will continue to develop.
"This is a tough day for the team," said Schmidt. "Any time you have a car loaded onto your hauler by the tow truck, it's a tough day. It means the team has a lot of work to do. We've got two cars that have been loaded on the transporter by tow trucks, so, obviously, there's even more than a lot of work to do. It would've been great if we could have picked up more points in the championship today, but at the same time, it's not the way you want to get them with the points leader being involved in a crash. The good in this is that no one is hurt, and we've got a good about two weeks to work on these cars, so there should be plenty of time to get them ready for Watkins Glen."
Sunday's 67-lap race will be televised on a tape-delayed basis at 3 p.m. (EDT), on Thursday, September 15, on ESPN2.
The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is number thirteen in the 14-race season. The Corning 100 will be held on Sunday, September 25, at Watkins Glen International, the 3.4 mile 11-turn road course located in Watkins Glen, NY.