LOGAN GOMEZ WINS FIRST CAREER INDY PRO SERIES RACE
JOLIET, Ill. -- Sunday saw the closest finish in Indy Pro Series history as Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Logan Gomez edged out teammate, 2007 Indy Pro Series Champion, Alex Lloyd, by 0.0005 seconds.
No other race sanctioned by the Indy Racing League has had a closer margin of victory.
The win is Gomez's first in his Indy Pro Series career. In fact, it's his first win outside of go-kart racing.
He led the last 21 laps in the 67-lap race. In total, he led 22.
Lloyd led 38 laps of the race, but when it came down to it at the end, he was just barely an inch short.
Travis Gregg jumped into the #38 car vacated by Ryan Justice at the last minute. Gregg charged from dead last at the start to as high as third at one point.
While dueling with Gomez and Lloyd, Gregg moved on the high side of the backstretch, but unfortunately, Wade Cunningham was in his way. The two tangled, and both crashed out.
Leilani Munter made her return to the cockpit this weekend for her second Indy Pro Series start. Early on in the race, she experienced an ill-handling car, and with the tires not up to optimum temperature and pressure, she lost control and spun towards the inside wall coming out of turn two.
Her rear wing was damaged, and she lost a considerable amount of time in the pits for repairs. Once she returned to the track, she used the track time to acclimate herself more to the open-wheeled cars and how they feel in large packs of traffic.
With the season complete, the team heads back to its Indianapolis headquarters to tear everything down and start from new in preparations for the 2008 season.
The team will celebrate its championship winning performance on Tuesday night at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the championship awards banquet.
"We gave it all we could and we put on a good show. It's a great race for the series to finish up on. It's a shame, all the yellows, but I think the final few laps were pretty good. I had just been trying to figure out where I was going to go. I gave myself a little bit of room coming through turn one and two to really suck it up and give it a go through three and four. We were almost there. Almost, but not quite. But it's great for Logan. I'm so happy for him. He's had a really great year and really been coming on strong. For him to get into victory lane is a really great boost for him over the winter and for the start of his next year. I think if he stays here in Indy Pro, he'll be a world championship favorite."
"It feels great. Alex had a great run out there as well as us. I think that Sam Schmidt Motorsports was the class of the field today. It's great to go out with a win at the end of the year. You couldn't ask for anything else. We progressed from not finishing races at the beginning of the year to winning a race at the end of the year, so it's just been a steady progression. Hopefully we can start here next year."
About running side-by-side at the front of the pack: "That was my first time, especially with Alex. I knew he'd race me clean, and I did the favor back to him. To race side-by-side with somebody like that who is going places is really a great feeling. To beat him is even better. It's about as close a finish as you can get. I couldn't ask for much more out of this series."
About having Davey Hamilton as spotter: "He was the biggest help, dodging a few of those wrecks. We were pretty close to a few -- the first big one with Chris Festa and Jaime Camara. We were on the high side going three wide, and we just barely missed it."
About having a lot of friends and family here: "Yeah, a lot of family and friends here. It's great. Other than Indy, I can't think of a better place to win."
"I was driving up near the high side and the car in front of me started moving up a bit and I moved up more because I had a good run going. And I got hit from behind. I did not know that Wade was behind me. It's real unfortunate for both of us. I had a real good run going from last up to near the front."
"Obviously, it's not the way I wanted to start out the race. Right away, I felt the car was loose. Looking back, I wonder, just from talking to people, maybe my tires hadn't come in yet. I got loose in four, but I was able to save it. Going into one and two, I arched it a bit more so I wouldn't pinch the car coming out of the corner, but all of a sudden, I don't know if I was too close to the guys in front of me or what, but it just snapped and it was gone. Adam Andretti came up to me after the race, he was behind me, and he said it just seemed to snap away. We scraped a little bit of the wing. Once I got back out there, the car was good and I was able to make a few passes. I had a problem on the last restart and lost a few places, but once the car was going, it was really good. Really, I just wanted to bring the car home in one piece and run laps and gain experience. At least the car came home in almost one piece. I've got a lot of experience to still gain. My spotter, Jaques Lazier, said I've improved in a lot of areas since Kentucky. The team gave me a great car. I feel bad that it ended up the way it did. I'm a rookie, and I guess that's what this series is all about. I'm here to gain experience. Every time I make a mistake, I'll try and learn from the mistake and not make the same mistake again. I'm glad I had an in-car camera so I can go back and look at the footage!"
About carnage in the race: "I'm glad I avoided the incidents. The one with Wade happened right in front of me. I saw him in the air and landing. He landed right in front of me. Jaques helped me weave around those wrecks. I saw a tire fly right by me. It was kind of hectic at times, and thankfully I avoided that carnage."
Team Owner, Sam Schmidt
"It's one of those things. You've got to pinch yourself. It's beyond remarkable. Nine wins, leading the most laps, capping it off this way is just phenomenal. Alex is a true professional, true gentleman. They played the right game there at the end to pull away from everybody else and settle it the last lap. I thought coming off of (turn) four that Alex had it won, but Logan had just enough speed at the end. I don't know that it will ever get any closer than that. That's just really, really unbelievable. It's truly been a natural progression. We struggled early on, because he's really only got two years of four-wheel other than go-kart experience. It really is a way to cap off a perfect season just building momentum. He really didn't get comfortable on ovals until Iowa, and ever since then he's been fast. He did an incredible job, matured a ton this year."