IPS: Sears Point I: Sam Schmidt Motorsports race report

ALEX LLOYD WINS IN INFINEON, CLINCHES CHAMPIONSHIP SONOMA, Calif. -- There were several scenarios that could have played out for Alex Lloyd on Saturday that could have enabled him to clinch the 2007 Indy Pro Series championship. The simplest...

ALEX LLOYD WINS IN INFINEON, CLINCHES CHAMPIONSHIP

SONOMA, Calif. -- There were several scenarios that could have played out for Alex Lloyd on Saturday that could have enabled him to clinch the 2007 Indy Pro Series championship.

The simplest one, of course, was to win the race, and that he did.

In fact, he dominated by leading every single lap.

For Lloyd, the win was his eighth of the year, a new series record, and the championship is the first one he has earned in his car racing career.

He took the lead heading into the first set of turns, and other than a few moments in the middle stages of the race where he was fighting the car, Lloyd never had a strong challenge for the top spot.

After the race, he celebrated by burning off some donuts with his race car and greeting an excited entourage in victory circle, including his crew, several sponsor guests, and more importantly, the extended family members that are visiting for their massive family reunion.

He couldn't spend much time celebrating as he had to quickly change suits and jump into the #19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential/Lexus-Riley Daytona Prototype for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for the Armed Forces Grand-Am 250.

Lloyd drove the first part of the race and turned the car over to his teammate, Michael Valiante, while in fourth place. Unfortunately, Valiante had a run-in with a back-marker, and the ensuing damage ended the race.

For Lloyd's Indy Pro Series teammates, they too had a nice day as Logan Gomez and Ryan Justice finished sixth and eighth, respectively.

Both had major battles with their competitors, and because of their finishing positions, both will share prime starting spots in the second race as Justice will be on the pole and Gomez will start third.

Alex Lloyd: "It's been an amazing day. We really wanted to win the championship by winning the race. That was the way we wanted to do it. We had a big lead, but we didn't want to fall behind and win it through the fact that we just had a big lead from the beginning of the season. We wanted to show that we were dominant from the beginning and finish that way as well. Today was a tough day. The car changed a lot during the race. We started off really strong and then it kind of fell apart a little bit in the middle of the race. I was struggling a little bit and Richard (Antinucci) was catching back up. After the yellow, the car cooled down, the tires cooled down and the car was great again. Big thank you to the team, Lucas Oil, Isilon Systems, everybody has done a great job all year. It's a great testament to how great this team is to the results we've been able to do this year. It's been a dream year for me, it really has. Hopefully I can carry this momentum into next year." (About his cars struggles midway in the race)

"We were good through the quick stuff and were pulling away, but when we got to the tighter stuff I was struggling stopping the car, struggling turning the car through the hairpin. It was just under-steering wide. I was getting a little bit concerned at that point. I had done all the adjustments on the car that I could, and it just wasn't helping. When the yellow came out, I was really happy. That's just the way racing is. You can start off with a good car, it can change halfway through the race and then come back to you. You just have to be patient and not make any mistakes. In my situation, keep the car in the lead while you're going through that bad patch and then push through and keep the lead."(About driving for Sam Schmidt)

"Sam's just a great guy. He runs a great team, but he's an inspirational guy to many, many people, including myself. He was a great driver, and now going through what he's gone through and keeping the positive frame of mind. I can learn a lot from him for sure."

Logan Gomez: "The race went all right for us. We started ninth and moved up to sixth. Obviously, moving forward is what you want to do. The race went okay. We had a couple of good battles with Hideki. I was closing in on (Jaime) Camara on the last lap. I got right up to him, but I didn't have enough time to make a move. Other than that, things went well. It's a pretty long race here. Keeping the tires consistent with the temperatures and the pressures is the key here. Other than that, I'm looking forward to starting the second race in third."

Ryan Justice:

"We just tried to be as consistent as we could. I pushed hard to try and get the most I could out of the car. We had a little bit of an over-heating problem with the motor which hindered our performance a little bit. With that said, I'm somewhat satisfied with the end of the race. I didn't want to finish eighth, but then again, that will enable us to start from the pole on Sunday. Hopefully we can have a repeat performance like the USGP. We'll just try and stay up there as long as we can and hope for a good finish."

-credit: sm

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Michael Valiante , Sam Schmidt , Chip Ganassi , Alex Lloyd , Ryan Justice , Logan Gomez , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing