LLOYD CLAIMS VICTORY IN INDY PRO SERIES OPENER HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Alex Lloyd claimed his third Indy Pro Series victory on March 24, winning a crash-marred season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Lloyd passed polesitter Chris Festa a few laps...
LLOYD CLAIMS VICTORY IN INDY PRO SERIES OPENER
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Alex Lloyd claimed his third Indy Pro Series victory on March 24, winning a crash-marred season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Lloyd passed polesitter Chris Festa a few laps before a serious accident involving five cars brought the race to an early end due to damage to the catch fencing above the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2. The No. 4 Guthrie Racing Car Crafters Special entry driven by Sean Guthrie and the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car driven by Pablo Perez touched wheels, sending Guthrie into the SAFER Barrier and Perez' car into the catch fencing. The debris from the incident scattered on the racetrack, and affected cars driven by Shane Lewis, Micky Gilbert and Joey Scarallo.
Perez was checked at the infield medical center and airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital listed in stable condition with leg injuries. He was awake and alert.
Lloyd took the yellow/checkered flags on Lap 57 for the third Indy Pro Series victory of his career and his first on an oval. Festa was second in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, followed by rookie Hideki Mutoh, Jaime Camara and Andrew Prendeville. A record 25 cars started the season opener. Another driver was hospitalized after a Lap 21 accident. Wade Cunningham's No. 27 AFS Racing car spun and made contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier.
Ryan Justice, driver of the No. 38 Lifelock/Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, hit the debris and made hard contact with the SAFER on the backstretch. Justice was checked at the infield medical center and also was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital via helicopter for observation. He was awake and alert.
MIAMI 100 POST-RACE NOTES:
* This is Alex Lloyd's first Indy Pro Series victory of the season and his third career victory. His last win came at Infineon last August. It is his first win on an oval.
* Lloyd led his third consecutive Indy Pro Series race dating to last season.
* Chris Festa finished second, tying his career-best finish. He led his first laps since he led at Texas in 2005.
* Rookie Hideki Mutoh finished third in his series debut.
* This is Sam Schmidt Motorsports' 14th victory in the Indy Pro Series. Lloyd is the fifth driver to win for the team joining Jay Howard, Travis Gregg, Jaime Camara and Thiago Medeiros. Its last win came with Howard at Kentucky last August.
MIAMI 100 POST-RACE QUOTES:
CHRIS FESTA (No. 9 CGR Indy Pro Series, finished second)
"Well, we're a little disappointed that the race got cut short by the yellows. Sometimes that's the way things go. We had a really strong car today. Target Chip Ganassi guys did a really strong thing. The car was just so good that I could put it anywhere on the track I wanted. We were just hoping for more laps so Alex (Lloyd) and I could shoot out at the end, but I guess it wasn't in the cars for today."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems/SSM, winner Miami 100)
"I have a mixture of feelings, really. I feel great that we won the race. That's what we came here to do. I think we had the best car to do that. At the time, I'm thinking about everybody else that got hurt and hoping they are all all right. My teammate was in one of the wrecks. I think he's OK. I hope they are all all right. (If the race had finished, could you have held off Chris Festa?): "I think we had a stronger car. I was able to get a run on him several times. I got up to him early in the race, and then again, I got around him on the last green flag. It would have been a close race, but I felt comfortable at the end that we could hold him off."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 11 Osofresh, finished fourth)
"It was a good race. We had a really great racecar out there. I think it was the best car out there, to be honest. If we had had a chance to finish it, I think we had a good chance of winning it. But, unfortunately, some bad accidents happened. I feel sorry for those guys. We just need to start driving using more of our heads for that not to happen anymore. We are all in this together out there."
ANDREW PRENDEVILLE (No. 5 RLR Andersen Racing, finished fifth)
"It was my first oval race ever and to bring home a top 5, it was awesome. (About the accidents) I was think there was three and I was close to two of them. I just happened to be on the inside and I was able to get around them and had my eyes up far ahead. We made a bunch of changes to the car this morning in the warm up. The RLR Andersen guys did a good job getting the car ready. We were the best we were all weekend this morning. We had a good race and we needed to go to the front. I pretty much stayed behind Jaime Camara. We just needed to avoid the accidents.
SEAN GUTHRIE (No. 4 Guthrie Racing Car Crafters Special)
"(About accident with Pablo Perez): "It was just a really unfortunate thing to happen after our car had been so perfect all day. I want to send my best thoughts to Pablo (Perez) and his team. I don't really know exactly what caused the accident. We were both racing pretty aggressively, side-by-side, and got together - I'll have to check out some video to see exactly what happened. But I'm really proud of the whole Guthrie Racing team. They gave me an awesome car today, and I was confident that if we could get some more green flag laps in, that I'd be moving toward the front. It's a bad way to start the year, but the good news is we'll head to St. Pete next week and get another chance to run up front again."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 55 Panther Racing, finished third)
"It was very good. My goal was to finish the race with a podium, so this is a great thing with the team."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, finished 24th)
"With the tail wind and Chris (Festa) right behind me, the car snapped a little bit going into (Turn) 1. I couldn't catch it."
The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Indy Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg doubleheaders on March 31 and April 1 on the at Streets of St. Petersburg. The race will be telecast at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 6 by ESPN2.