Kentucky: Sam Schmidt Motorsports qualifying report

SAM SCHMIDT DRIVER PIPPA MANN EARNS POLE POSITION FOR SATURDAY NIGHT AT KENTUCKY SPARTA, Ky. - Pippa Mann led the way for Sam Schmidt Motorsports on Friday afternoon by winning her second career pole position after she narrowly beat her former...

SAM SCHMIDT DRIVER PIPPA MANN EARNS POLE POSITION FOR SATURDAY NIGHT AT KENTUCKY

SPARTA, Ky. - Pippa Mann led the way for Sam Schmidt Motorsports on Friday afternoon by winning her second career pole position after she narrowly beat her former teammate, Martin Plowman, by 0.0485 seconds over two laps on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.

Championship leader J.K. Vernay followed in fourth with Philip Major in 13th.

Mann was quick to credit her Sam Schmidt crew and teammates on her pole run. Her crew gambled a bit on the setup, and Mann was able to receive feedback from Vernay and Major after their runs. She was making adjustments with her cockpit tools before she even left pit lane.

The pole is the second of her career. She just barely missed out on the pole last weekend in Chicago, and her first pole earlier in the year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the first for any woman at that race track.

Mann has been a woman on a mission following her near pole and near victory in Chicago. Her confidence is very high, and now that she's crossed the pole off her list this weekend, she's as determined as ever to get her car into victory lane.

Vernay is in a comfortable position for his title fight. If he finishes in front of James Hinchcliffe, Vernay wins the championship. Hinchcliffe starts sixth. Besides staying in front of Hinchcliffe, Vernay wants to win the race. He feels very confident in his chances, and after his performances so far on the oval tracks this year, it would be no surprise to see him up with Mann battling for the win.

Major has his work cut out for him. Starting from 13th, he'll have a lot of traffic to get by to get to the front, but he too has a very fast car. He has been one of the quickest on the speed charts all weekend, including ending up third in the final practice. The only hiccup of his weekend so far occurred during qualifying when he lost control of his car and spun. He never got a chance to get a time in. The repercussions of that will come Saturday night. He'll have an exciting night ahead of him.

Saturday's Drive Smart. Buckle-Up 100 starts at 5:30 p.m. ET and can be seen live via indycar.com or firestoneindylights.com.

DRIVER NOTES & QUOTES

#7 LUCAS OIL/CJ Motorsport/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay

Qualified fourth with a two-lap average of 190.252 mph. Won five races so far in rookie campaign (St. Pete, Barber Park, The Glen, Toronto, Infineon Raceway). Currently the series points leader by 53 over James Hinchcliffe. Making 12th Firestone Indy Lights start. In 2009, competed in Formula 3, highlighted by two wins, and a track record at the Macau street circuit.

"It was a good qualifying run. We did all right. I tried to give as much information and advice as I could to help out Pippa, and she won the pole. I think if I would have been in her spot and had the same information, we could have won the pole too. We all have very fast cars. I had a really huge moment in the qualifying run, but we ended up fourth. I'm really happy with the team and the good job that everyone has done. I'm very confident going into the race. There's no pressure on me. Just because I can win the championship tomorrow, there's no added pressure. It just allows me to be comfortable and I know I can pursue the race win. I'm happy, relaxed, and confident. I don't want to seem too confident because we never know what can happen on the track on an oval, but we'll see come race time."

#11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

Qualified first with a two-lap average of 190.474 mph. In sophomore season of Firestone Indy Lights competition. Coming off Firestone Indy Lights career-best finish of second at Chicagoland Speedway. Enters Kentucky Speedway 11th in points. Her first career pole this year was the first for any woman in any event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 2009, had three top-10s with best finish of eighth (Homestead).

"Last week was a really good week for us. We had a nice run in the race. We came here hoping for something similar. I'm really, really pleased to get the pole. We didn't seem to think that we were that quick but we've been on the front row for three out of the four oval races this year and every time we thought we were a top-five car so maybe there's something to it. Today, I really have to thank my teammates. They let me know what their cars were doing and I was able to use my in-car tools so huge thank you goes out to not only my guys by J.K. Vernay and Philip Major for letting me know what was going on out there."

#49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

Starts Saturday's race in 13th. No speed posted in qualifying. Coming off Firestone Indy Lights career-best finish of third at Chicagoland Speedway. Enters Kentucky Speedway eighth in points. Making 12th Firestone Indy Lights start. In 2009, made 12 starts in British Formula 3 with Carlin Motorsport with best finish of sixth at Spa.

"In qualifying, I left the pits, and then I went corner three flat, and by the time I was in the middle, the car just snapped loose on me. By the time I saved it, I was in pit lane, and my run was over. So, we'll have to start from the back of the grid and work our way to the front. We've got our work cut out for us. We've been fast all weekend, and we finished the final warm-up third, so it'll be interesting to see how quickly I can work my way up to the front. These big oval races can be crazy, but I know I'll have a lot of fun."

-source: ssm

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series INDYLIGHTS