Kentucky: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS SEEKS VICTORY IN KENTUCKY AFTER 2-3-4 IN CHICAGOLAND LAST WEEKEND SPARTA, Ky. - The penultimate round of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season takes place this weekend at the Kentucky Speedway where Sam...

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS SEEKS VICTORY IN KENTUCKY AFTER 2-3-4 IN CHICAGOLAND LAST WEEKEND

SPARTA, Ky. - The penultimate round of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season takes place this weekend at the Kentucky Speedway where Sam Schmidt Motorsports looks to defend its 2009 race win and has three drivers looking for career days. Practice begins on Friday morning at nine with a one-hour session. Qualifying follows at noon with the final practice taking place at 6:15 p.m. The race itself is on Saturday night at 5:30. The Drive Smart. Buckle-Up Kentucky 100 and all other on-track sessions can be seen live on indycar.com or firestoneindylights.com. All times listed are in ET.

J.K. Vernay looks to end championship race with solid result in Kentucky.

With just two races left in the season, including this weekend's, J.K. Vernay can clinch the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights crown simply by finishing ahead of his rival in the championship, James Hinchcliffe. With the maximum points possible in one weekend being 53, and Vernay ahead of Hinchliffe by that margin entering this weekend, if Vernay stays in front of Hinchcliffe, Vernay gets the title. Though one would think that Vernay would look to just finish the race and not do anything silly, being the competitor he is, if there's an opportunity to win the race, he'll take it. Given the past success of Sam Schmidt Motorsports at the track, Vernay has a very good shot of accomplishing all those goals this weekend.

Pippa Mann and Philip Major look to build upon their best career finishes from last weekend.

By finishing second and third, respectively, Pippa Mann and Philip Major earned their Firestone Indy Lights best finishes last weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway. However, entering this weekend, both feel they can do even better. Mann had a tough pill to swallow after leading the most laps in that Chicagoland event, but entering this weekend, she feels confident that she can put together a complete weekend and come away with victory. Major, who raced for the first time on a 1.5-mile oval, also learned many lessons that he can carry over to this weekend to better his result. When three capable drivers on one team are all shooting for career-best finishes in the top-three, there's only so many spots they can end up in to call it a "career day," but Mann and Major will battle with their championship-leading teammate for that coveted number one spot when the checkered flag falls on Saturday night.

Kentucky Speedway a good track to Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

In the past, Kentucky Speedway has been a kind track to Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Since 2005, the top-two finishers always included a Sam Schmidt car including race wins in 2005 (Travis Gregg), 2006 (Jay Howard), and 2009 (Wade Cunningham). Entering this weekend's race, all three of the team's drivers have a lot of confidence and momentum behind them, and if history is on the team's side, another Sam Schmidt car (or two) could be in the top-two this weekend. Vernay, Major, and Mann are capable and confident of getting a race win so it will be interesting to see who can come out on top for the Sam Schmidt team when the race concludes.

No. 7 LUCAS OIL/CJ Motorsport/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay

"I'm feeling very confident entering this weekend in Kentucky. We had a test there earlier in the year, and we learned a lot and accomplished quite a bit. I had a chance to win last weekend in Chicago in my first 1.5-mile race. I didn't get the result I wanted, but I learned quite a bit that I can carry over to this weekend. The big picture goal is to stay focused on the championship, but if we have a shot at a victory, and this weekend we should, then yes, I'm going to go for it. It'd be nice to win at least one more race this year, and I'm going to do my best to accomplish that. We'll let the championship take care of itself. I'm ready to go and looking forward to it."

No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

"We have some great momentum now in the 11 car team after two good results. Since Indy, I feel as though I've had something of a monkey on my back, and it feels so good to finally gotten rid of it with this good result. I think I answered/silenced a lot of people's questions by letting my driving do the talking. Kentucky is a very similar oval to Chicagoland. It's a little bumpier, a little more of a handling track than Chicago, and as such, the big pack up front doesn't tend to be quite as close or hairy. But, there will be a lot of side by side racing again, and I think the battle for the lead and the win will be pretty intense. I believe we'll be in the mix up front again and one of the contenders for pole and to win the race. There are probably about six or seven of us up there in that mix at the ovals, so it's by no means a done deal, but obviously we'll be shooting for the win and we will certainly be up there competing for it. As far as qualifying goes, that's been fairly unpredictable so far this year on the ovals, but you would have to say my form on the super speedways in qualifying trim is fairly good. We'll be doing our usual and throwing a few things at the car just for that run and seeing whether we can't come away with another pole too."

No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

"I'm really looking forward to this weekend at the Kentucky Speedway. I think it's going to be a good one. We just need to carry forward the momentum that we had from last weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway. We need to take what we learned from our first mile and a half track of the season and take it to this one. This track is a little bit different, so we'll have to adapt a bit, but it shouldn't be a problem. We just need to keep our heads level, work as a team like we did last weekend, and we should come out with a good result."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt

"We're not counting our chickens by any means with J.K. and the championship chase. Anything can still happen. Kentucky will be a high-speed drama repeat of last weekend, and I think all three drivers gained valuable experience they will be using in this weekend. We've had great success at Kentucky over the years, and I know the entire Sam Schmidt Motorsports team is looking forward to this event."

-source: ssm

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Series INDYLIGHTS