Kentucky: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS RETURNS TO HOME SOIL AND PREPARES FOR SERIES 100TH RACE SPARTA, Ky. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports heads to the Kentucky Speedway this weekend for the 11th round in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season, and more importantly,...

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS RETURNS TO HOME SOIL AND PREPARES FOR SERIES 100TH RACE

SPARTA, Ky. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports heads to the Kentucky Speedway this weekend for the 11th round in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season, and more importantly, the 100th race in series history. After spending two of the last three weekends in Canada on temporary race circuits, the series returns to U.S. soil, and more importantly, an oval. The last time the series raced on an oval, at the Iowa Speedway, Sam Schmidt Motorsports finished 1, 2, 3, 5. Practice begins on Friday with a one-hour session at noon. A second session follows at 4 p.m. Qualifying caps off Friday evening beginning at 7.

SPEED READ Wade Cunningham looks to continue strong performance on large ovals. Ana Beatriz seeks Kentucky redemption. Gustavo Yacaman and James Hinchcliffe look to put up first solid results on big track.

Wade Cunningham looks to continue strong performance on large ovals. In the two previous big oval races on the schedule, Kansas and Indianapolis, Wade Cunningham earned a victory, a second-place, and two pole positions. Besides showing this year that he's very quick on the big tracks, more specifically, in the past, he's shown he's quick at the Kentucky Speedway. In three starts (2005, 2006, 2007), Cunningham has earned one second and two thirds. He enters this weekend knowing he has the best equipment he's ever had on this track and feels confident that he'll be challenging for a front starting spot and the top spot on the podium.

Ana Beatriz seeks Kentucky redemption. The 2008 visit to Kentucky Speedway was Ana Beatriz's first race at the track. She showed she was competitive all weekend and was valiantly battling handling conditions during the race while remaining with the leaders. Unfortunately for her, a competitor came down on her coming onto the front straightaway, taking both cars out and leaving Beatriz frustrated. She enters this weekend knowing she has unfinished business to take care of at this track. A series of unfortunate incidents have taken away solid results from Beatriz in the last couple of rounds, and she's looking to turn that around with a solid result this weekend.

Gustavo Yacaman and James Hinchcliffe look to put up first solid results on big track. Two more drivers looking for solid finishes this weekend are Canadian James Hinchcliffe and the series youngest driver, Gustavo Yacaman. Both have showed competitiveness and speed at the two previous large ovals. However, problems plagued both drivers. Yacaman had on-track incidents take him out of contention in both races while engine problems handicapped Hinchcliffe. Each driver has shown the capability to run up front with the leaders, and both are looking forward to showing it to their competitors and themselves in race conditions. On top of that, both drivers have a good shot on improving upon their season-best results (4th for Yacaman, 3rd for Hinchcliffe).

DRIVER NOTES & QUOTES

No 7 HINCHTOWN.com/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Hinchcliffe

"For me, Indy was an absolute non-event as we didn't really get to qualify and in the race itself, the engine quit on us pretty early. At Kansas, obviously, we had our problems in qualifying and then a couple of issues in the race. This is hopefully my first proper, unaffected, uninterrupted speedway, and I'm really looking forward to it. We knows the cars have got the speed. Wade showed that he was super quick at Kansas, and all three others were quick at the race in Indy. We know the cars are going to be there. I'm just excited to have a chance to have a solid qualifying and be able to dice up at the front with the leaders because I haven't had a chance to do that on a speedway yet. This weekend is about trying to get all the points we can now. Third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth are really tight in points, but we've got a little bit of work to do to catch those AGR boys. It will be about keeping our heads down, not making mistakes, and maximizing our opportunities. Hopefully our spell of freakish mechanical bad luck is over on these big tracks and we can get lucky in Kentucky."

No 11 LUCAS OIL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Wade Cunningham

"I think coming into this weekend, if we're not fighting for the pole, we'll be disappointed. Unfortunately, we've had a lot of small mechanical issues -- reliability issues. So, barring any misfortune like that, I don't see why we won't be battling with the two AGR cars. It's early to say who's going to be the quickest, but definitely, at Iowa, Indy, Milwaukee, Kansas, those have been the guys we've been up against, at least in qualifying. Race day is always a little bit different. So, really, we're looking forward to qualifying at the front, and really, the goal now for the rest of the year is to beat Saavedra. J.R. hasn't won the championship, but he's got a very healthy lead. Barring a large amount of DNFs, the championship is his to lose. We're still in touch with Sebastian. He's only 30 points or so ahead. With two good results for us and one bad one for him, we could be second in the championship. So, that's our focus right now. Really, I've got to win because I need those 10 points on second place because that's all I can control. So, we're looking for the 50 points, and the bonus points wouldn't hurt either."

No 20 HEALTHY CHOICE/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Ana Beatriz

"We've got some unfinished business in Kentucky. The Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt car was pretty good here last year, but we didn't get the chance to finish the race. I'm very confident that we'll improve on that result this weekend. We've had a couple of races recently where we couldn't capitalize on points, and we need to make that up this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting on the track and getting started with the event. We know we need a good result, and I'm confident that we'll get it here."

No 44 CREPES & WAFFLES/TUVACOL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Gustavo Yacaman

"I think we've shown in the last several races that we have the capability to run up front, but we haven't been able to put a whole weekend together. I'm looking forward to being able to come into this weekend and start off by qualifying well and then racing well. Let's see what happens."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt "I think we're all looking forward to this weekend. Our team has done pretty well in Kentucky in the past. Bia and Wade both have some experience here, and I think that James and Gus will be competitive fairly quickly once the weekend gets going. We've finished second here in the last few years, but hopefully we can break through the barrier and get onto the top step of the podium this weekend."

-credit: ssm

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Wade Cunningham , James Hinchcliffe , Ana Beatriz , Gustavo Yacaman