SPARTA, Ky. -- Saturday night saw four Sam Schmidt Motorsports entries take the green flag for the Kentucky 100 Indy Pro Series race. Unfortunately, only one of them finished on the lead lap. Alex Lloyd dueled with Wade Cunningham and ...
SPARTA, Ky. -- Saturday night saw four Sam Schmidt Motorsports entries take the green flag for the Kentucky 100 Indy Pro Series race.
Unfortunately, only one of them finished on the lead lap.
Alex Lloyd dueled with Wade Cunningham and Hideki Mutoh on the last lap during a thrilling three-wide race for the lead. Heading into the final set of turns, Lloyd held the top spot.
He didn't have Mutoh on the inside covered, however, and Mutoh used the shorter distance around the track to crawl away from Lloyd.
Lloyd's second-place finished allowed him to maintain control of the season-long points chase. Currently, with only three races left, Lloyd has a 98-point lead on second-place Hideki Mutoh.
Lloyd can clinch the championship during the next round at the Infineon Raceway if he can extend his lead by eight more points.
Saturday night also saw the debut of Indy Pro Series newcomer, Leilani Munter.
After starting fifth, Munter dropped a few positions on the initial start. On a subsequent restart, she lost several more positions. However, the "rookie mistakes" allowed the spectators to see a dazzling display of her race craft as she moved from 13th to sixth in just nine laps.
One by one, she picked off several cars without hesitation, including sticking her car out in the outside lane of turns to pass during three-wide situations.
However, her run came to an abrupt end just a few laps later as she got tangled in the misfortune of one of her teammates, Ryan Justice.
Justice, who ran as high as fourth, was dueling with Chris Festa when the incident occurred.
While trying to pass Justice, Festa touched Justice's right rear tire, causing the tire to deflate. Justice lost a lot of speed, and Munter had nowhere to go but into Justice's car.
Munter wasn't the only Sam Schmidt driver to fall victim of the close duel of Festa and Justice.
Earlier in the race, Logan Gomez was running in fourth when Festa and Justice approached. The drivers raced three-wide on the front-stretch, but didn't leave each other enough room.
Gomez encountered damage to his car when he was squeezed by Festa and Justice and was forced to pit. The ensuing pit stop to repair the damage to his car caused him to fall off the lead lap and out of contention.
With the promise he had been showing on the recent ovals, including running in the top five of the speed charts all weekend in Kentucky, the disappointment that Gomez had was obvious.
In fact, the promise and competitiveness shown by all four drivers just wasn't quite reflected when the final results were officially posted.
For now, all four drivers and crews will make full use of the upcoming off-weekend to repair the cars and themselves.
For those that did not watch the Kentucky 100 on indycar.com, a taped broadcast will be shown on ESPN2 on Thursday, August 16th, at 5:30 p.m.
#7 LUCAS OIL/Isilon Systems Driver Alex Lloyd
Started 2nd, Finished 2nd
"It was a pretty good race. We started off knowing we didn't really have the car we needed. We were a little be too...not enough grip all around. I couldn't stay close enough to Hideki in the corners to be able to get passed Wade, but I knew if we could get into the lead, we'd have a good car. For awhile, I thought my patience wouldn't pay off with all the yellows. I didn't know if we'd get back to green. When we did, I thought I had a great restart. I thought we may have had Hideki on the last lap. We had half a car length on him coming going into three. At the end of the day, they just had a little more than us this weekend, and second was the best we could do. It was everything we could get out of the car. I had fun. It was a hell of a race!"
#23 Isilon System/FlaCondos.net Driver Logan Gomez
Started 4th, Finished 13th
"Coming onto the front straight, between my getting a little loose off of corner four, I had Chris Festa outside of me. A teammate decided it'd be a good idea to go under me crossing the start finish line. He was the third one in and made it three wide, and I got the short end of the stick trying to keep it off my teammate. You don't want to point the finger at anybody. It's racing. Unfortunately, it ruined it for all of us. I'm glad to see my teammate Alex Lloyd do well. Leilani was doing all right, but she was caught up in another incident with my other teammate Ryan Justice. Teammates are supposed to be helping each other and trying to beat other teams. If we would have worked towards that, we would have finished a lot better than just having one team car on the lead lap. Other than that, it was a good weekend."
#38 LifeLock/LUCAS OIL Driver Ryan Justice
Started 10th, Finished 15th
"The number nine car and I were having a really good fight. I think we were side-by-side for 10 or 15 laps. We didn't have any problems at all. For whatever reason, on the straight that time, he didn't give me any room. Some part of his car, I assume the front win, cut my right rear tire. I just tried to slow down and get out of the way, but unfortunately, I collected Leilani. I'd like to say it was one of those racing things, but to go side-by-side like that for 15 laps, I just think that you need to give the guy you're next to a little more room. It's unfortunate."
#57 SMART Papers/LUCAS OIL Driver Leilani Munter
Started 5th, Finished 16th
"I felt so good. I had such a good run. I had some problems on the restart. I was going through the gears. For some reason, I was in sixth, and I was full throttle, but I was on the rev limiter the whole way in sixth. That happened on the first run. We had the caution, went back out, and my team told me to make sure I was really in sixth because the other guys weren't really on the rev limiter the whole way around. So I checked and made sure that it was displaying sixth. I tried bumping it up again, and it didn't bump up so I knew I was in sixth. I was just picking them off through the field. I felt so good, and the car felt great underneath me. I saw (Festa and Justice) touch, and I saw (Justice) wiggle. I started to move up the track. I didn't have enough room, and my left front clipped the back of (Justice's) car, and I was looking at the wall thinking, 'OH NO! Here it comes!' I'm just really disappointed, of course. I was having a great run. I think I was up to sixth. There were a couple of times I went three-wide, and I'm on the outside. The car -- they gave me an awesome car. I have to thank Sam Schmidt Motorsports for giving me a rocket ship, and to SMART Papers. They gave me the shot to show everybody that I can drive these cars. Obviously, I'm really disappointed, but at least I had, while I was out there, was running really well, and I feel really good about that. Of course, you want to bring the car home in one piece. I was hoping for a top-five, and I think I could have gotten there. I guess it wasn't my night."
Team Owner, Sam Schmidt
"Alex, as usual, did a hell of a job. He couldn't have done any better with where we started and what we had. He's a true champion, and that race showed it. He tried every which way but loose. I'm really impressed with Ryan in this race. He got a great start and was running as high as the top five. He just got his tire cut by a desperate person, and that caused the melee with Leilani, and that's sad. She was having a great race. Same with Logan. He had a fast car, and somebody drove over his front wing. I guess we're probably lucky that these cars aren't worse than they are. We'll regroup, head to Sonoma, and see if we can't wrap up this championship."
* Happy Birthday, Sam! Team Owner Sam Schmidt is celebrated his birthday this past weekend. He's finally left "29" and is now claiming to being "30."
* Currently, after 13 races, Lloyd has 548 points in the season-long point standings (a new series record) with a 98-point lead on second-place Hideki Mutoh. For comparison, last year's Indy Pro Series champion, Jay Howard, scored a total of 390 points in 11 races. The previous series record of 513 points in a season was set in 2004 by Thiago Medeiros in 12 races driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
* In the spotters' stand for Munter was five-time Indianapolis 500 starter Jaques Lazier.
* This weekend, Logan Gomez was the youngest driver and only native Hoosier entered in the Kentucky 100. Though Alex Lloyd and his wife, Sam, claim to be transplanted Hoosiers, their lack of a Hoosier accent does not yet make them eligible to be a "native" Hoosier.