Kansas: Series race notes

KANSAS CITY, KAN., Sunday, April 27, 2008 - Californian J.R. Hildebrand earned his first victory in Firestone Indy Lights competition, leading 47 of 67 laps in the Kansas Lottery 100. Robbie Pecorari was second and Arie Luyendyk Jr. finished ...

KANSAS CITY, KAN., Sunday, April 27, 2008 - Californian J.R. Hildebrand earned his first victory in Firestone Indy Lights competition, leading 47 of 67 laps in the Kansas Lottery 100. Robbie Pecorari was second and Arie Luyendyk Jr. finished third.

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Homeless animals will benefit if Andrew Prendeville does well in today's Kansas Lottery 100.

Through a Web site at racinglapsforbestfriends.com, fans make donations to the Best Friends Animal Society based on the number of laps Prendeville completes in the 67-lap race and other Firestone Indy Lights races with his Best Friends Animal Society No. 5.

All donations to the not-for-profit animal welfare group, which cares for 1,500 animals daily at its shelter in Kanab, Utah, are tax-deductible. Best Friends is affiliated with animal shelters around the world, including the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City.

Per-lap donations may be made for any amount starting at 25 cents per lap.

In addition to making per-lap donations at racinglapsforbestfriends.com, fans can also participate in a special raffle that benefits Best Friends through that Web site. The prizes are sessions at the Bertil Roos Racing School.

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SWE Pole Qualifying for the Kansas Lottery 100 has been cancelled due to the conditions. The starting field will be set according to entrant points. There will not be a bonus point awarded for the pole position.

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Prior to becoming a race car driver, Brent Sherman served his country as a member of the U.S. Air Force. Now his current career will help promote his previous one.

The National Guard announced that it has expanded its sponsorship of Panther Racing to include primary sponsorship of the team's No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights entry driven by Sherman.

Sherman served in the Air Force for six years, including four years in which he spent conducting combat, surveillance and instructional missions on an AWACS airplane.

The news is part of a big weekend for Sherman, who will get his first experience in an IndyCar Series car on April 28 as part of the Indy Racing League's bonus testing program.

BRENT SHERMAN (No. 16 Best Buddies/PEC): "It's just awesome. Being prior military, it's pretty special to be able to represent National Guard and the colors on my car. Hopefully we can grow the relationship and do well for them. Obviously it brings a big name to a big team also in the Firestone Indy Lights series, just like Vitor (Meira) has on the No. 4 car (in the IndyCar Series). It's great to get back into the Firestone Indy Lights car again on an oval track, but I'm really excited to test the IndyCar (Series car) on Monday once the races are over."

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE NOTES:

* This is J.R. Hildebrand's first victory in Firestone Indy Lights. His previous best finish was second at St. Petersburg 2 earlier this year.

* This is the first victory for RLR/Andersen Racing.

* Robbie Pecorari improved 21 positions, the greatest advance from start to finish in series history. The previous mark had been held by Jaime Camara, who advanced 20 positions at Homestead-Miami in 2007.

* The 0.0553 margin of victory is the eighth-closest finish in series history and the closest at Kansas Speedway.

* Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s third-place finish marks his best finish since Milwaukee 2005.

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE QUOTES:

J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 25 Allied Building Products, finished first): "I'm so happy. It feels so good for the team; everybody has worked so hard. To be able to come away with a win in just the fourth race has put us in a really good spot in the championship. I didn't think our first win would come on an oval, but we'll take it and keep going with Indy coming up and then the height of the season. We've progressed and improved our finishing position with every race, and now I'm on the top step of the podium." (About the last seven laps) "I was probably looking backwards more than I was looking forward. He (Pecorari) raced me clean. My car was good right at the bottom so I was able to stay there and keep him behind me. We ended up pulling it off at the line."

ROBBIE PECORARI (No. 55 Guthrie Racing, finished second): "The car was great. I have to thank the entire Guthrie Racing team. We knew we had a car that was capable of running strong. It's unfortunate that we didn't get to qualify, but we had a strong car. It paid off in the end. There weren't too many close calls for us today. Coming up to the start/finish line on the last lap, I had a bit of a bobble in Turn 3, but at that point it was all about trying to go for the win. Congratulations to RLR/Anderson team for pulling it off."

ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., finished third): "Our car struggled a bit on the restarts. I think that's what caught us at the end. Other than that, the car was beautiful to drive. We had a few really good opening laps that helped me move up to third right away. Then it was just me and (J.R.) Hildebrand up at the front for awhile, working together to get away from everybody, but the restarts brought everyone back together. Great job by the crew. We had a tough car to drive this weekend, but it was fast. It was just a shame that we couldn't pick up that first win."

DILLON BATTISTINI (No. 15 Panther Racing, finished fourth): "It's been a good ending considering the way the rest of the weekend has gone. We had a few problems in practice (Saturday) that cost us track time, and this morning we lost fuel pressure that cost us the warm-up. Going into this race, I had no idea what the car was going to be like. My engineer did a fantastic job of second-guessing the setup. I had a car that was capable of winning the race. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my way through (traffic at end). Part of my mind was on the championship as well. I was aware that the two drivers I would consider my main rivals for the championship had bad races, so I knew if I just finished in the top three or four I was looking really good for the championship."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Brian Stewart Racing, finished fifth): "The track hasn't been in good conditions all weekend, so we ran with a lot of downforce on the car. It was great for the first half of the race when I was passing people. We got in that front pack really quickly, but there was no way I could challenge the first- and second-place cars. Just the way the gearing worked and how the headwinds were made it difficult to try to make a pass. We didn't have the capacity starting so far back and with so much downforce. I didn't take that many chances, and it was a good result."

The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues May 23 at Indianapolis. The Kansas Lottery 100 will be telecast at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 1 by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Brent Sherman , Andrew Prendeville , Robbie Pecorari , J.R. Hildebrand , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing