Promising Day at The Glen Ends Bit Short
Puts Sam Schmidt Motorsports Out of the Title Chase
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- After strong qualifying efforts put the Sam Schmidt Motorsports' three full-time cars in solid position at the start of the Corning 100, racing incidents pushed the Menards Infiniti Pro Series championship title out of the team's reach by the end. Schmidt's cars started third, sixth, eighth and 10th following adjustments to the qualifying results - they finished fourth, seventh, 12th and 13th, while Jeff Simmons collected the win and second place in the points standings.
Jaime Camara led the contingent of Sam Schmidt Motorsports four cars, starting third in the 29-lap race - the longest road course event of the season. Camara slid off track early in the race, fell to the rear of the field and drove his way back to finish seventh. Chris Festa started sixth and finished fourth, just one spot off the podium. Travis Gregg started eighth but lost a lap when he slid off track on lap four. Gregg finished 12th, two laps down, and dropped to third in the point standings with 426 points. Camara is fifth with 383 while Festa is sixth with 355 points. Rocco DeSimone, of Providence, R.I., retired after only four laps due to mechanical trouble. DeSimone is credited with finishing 13th.
The #1 CELG/Goias Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry driven by Camara, 24, a Brazilian who now lives in Miami, Fla., was the fastest Schmidt car throughout the weekend. Camara took the blame for the slide in turn one.
"At the start of the race, I made a mistake in one, and that cost me the race," explained Camara. "After that, I was having some issues with the rear of the car. When I carried speed in the corners, I was fighting the car. The race was all right, I just made a big mistake."
Festa, 19, a Florida State University sophomore, drove the #19 SpacePak/CareCentric Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry with confidence and consistency.
"The cars in front of me stacked up and went off course at the start which made me have to go outside the exit curbing for turn one. That cost me a position, but I quickly got it back," said Festa. "After that, I just kind of settled in and just tried to click off laps and race all I could. I kind of ended up by myself and then I was just working on lap times and getting some more seat time in the car."
Gregg, 27, of Camden, Ohio, started the race second in points, and now heads to California ready to worry only about winning.
"I spun in turn eight, and I think confidence-wise it kind of hurt me a bit. I really didn't push too hard after that. I had trouble (in practice when I crashed) and didn't want to tear up any more equipment," explained Gregg. "I guess I was struggling on the road course but I always have a good car - it's just me working up to speed. I'm looking forward to California and getting back on an oval."
Sam Schmidt saw some promise and he's planning on his teams racing strong at California.
"Here we showed promise with the way Jaime and Chris qualified," said Schmidt. "Jaime clearly had a car to run with the top three, but we spun on the first lap so we weren't able to close that deal. Chris, as usual, advanced his position and was his usual consistent self on the road courses. We just need to get the car to his liking so he can race at the front with those guys. Unfortunately Travis did spin, which took us out of the championship hunt, but with our past strength at Fontana we should be able to get back to second in the standings. That's what we want to do. Our goal for Travis is to get second in points and to get enough points for Jaime and Chris to get top-five or top-six."
Sunday's 29-lap race will be televised on a tape-delayed basis at 3 p.m. (EDT), on Thursday, September 29th on ESPN2.
The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the season finale on Sunday, October 16th at California Speedway, the 2.0 mile D-shaped oval in Fontana, California.