Runner-Up Indy Pro Series Finish for Howard at St. Petersburg Makes Him 3-for-3 in Top-3's To Open the 2006 Season ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 2, 2006) Jay Howard just might have been the hardest-working IRL Indy Pro Series driver on the Streets...
Runner-Up Indy Pro Series Finish for Howard at St. Petersburg
Makes Him 3-for-3 in Top-3's To Open the 2006 Season
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 2, 2006) Jay Howard just might have been the hardest-working IRL Indy Pro Series driver on the Streets of St. Petersburg today for the weekend's second of two IPS events. But even though the net result earned him no better than a runner-up finish, he and his Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammates leave the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on a high note as today's runner-up finish came on the heels of Saturday's hard-earned third-place run.
Howard started fourth today by virtue of his third-place finish yesterday (series officials inverted the order of yesterday's top-six finishers to set the front of today's lineup). He worked his way into the lead by Lap 4 before giving way to eventual race-winner Raphael Matos on Lap 7, then fought for dear life over the next 33 laps to keep three strong-willed competitors behind him the rest of the way.
Alex Lloyd, Jeff Simmons and Jonathan Klein all were on Howard's tail in a four-car train he led for those final 33 laps. On two occasions, Lloyd was able to get around Howard only to lose the positions back to the Brit, who has called St. Petersburg home for the past 14 months.
Howard leaves here just nine points behind Simmons in the drivers standings after the season's first three events. The series takes an extended hiatus before resuming May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Futaba Freedom 100. Last Sunday, Howard opened the season with a pole position and third-place finish on the Homestead Miami Speedway 1.5-mile oval.
Jay Howard, #7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Dallara:
"That's the hardest I've ever had to work for a second-place finish. I just want to say thanks to the boys for trying everything they could to give me a car to try and catch (Raphael) Matos. Hats off to them -- they were absolutely hooked up all weekend. On one end of the scale, finishing second isn't necessarily something to get excited about, but considering we got a third and a second in two races in two days, I think it was a remarkable effort. Today was a matter of watching my mirrors for the last 35 laps. They certainly put the pressure on me from behind, which didn't help make it any easier to focus on catching Raphael. We made some big changes since yesterday because we needed to close that gap. We struggled a little, but we'll take this weekend and find more improvements before we hit the track again at Indy."
Sam Schmidt, President, Sam Schmidt Motorsports:
"It was a good points weekend for us. Normally you're not too happy about finishing second and third, but in the grand scheme of things, we'll take it. Honestly, it was a case where we all worked our butts off trying to help Jay catch (Raphael) Matos. That was a pretty tall order, as it turned out. But we showed that we have a high-caliber team because we were able to stay in front of everyone else today. Overall, I'll have to say we're very pleased."