Kentucky: Sam Schmidt Motorsports race report

PIPPA MANN LEADS THE WAY AT KENTUCKY FOR SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS WITH FIRST SERIES WIN SPARTA, Ky. - Pippa Mann entered the Kentucky Speedway this weekend as a driver on a mission, and she completed her weekend domination by leading every lap...

PIPPA MANN LEADS THE WAY AT KENTUCKY FOR SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS WITH FIRST SERIES WIN

SPARTA, Ky. - Pippa Mann entered the Kentucky Speedway this weekend as a driver on a mission, and she completed her weekend domination by leading every lap from pole en route to winning the Drive Smart. Buckle-Up 100 on Saturday night.

Mann faced very few challenges throughout the night. Through the middle stages of the race, she was able to pull away from the pack and build sizeable leads. The gap to second-place was nearly seven seconds when the checkered flag fell - roughly one-fifth of the race track. The convincing victory was especially satisfying for Mann who, just one week prior, led the most laps at the Chicagoland Speedway and fell just short of earning her first victory.

The win is Mann's first in Firestone Indy Lights, and she became just the second woman to win in the series. The first, Ana Beatriz, also drove for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Following Mann home for the team was J.K. Vernay in third. He found himself chasing championship rival James Hinchcliffe on the track for second while trying to hold off Adrian Campos Jr. and Martin Plowman for the third spot. He managed to do so, minimizing the point loss to Hinchcliffe entering the last event. Even though Hinchcliffe finished in second, Vernay enjoys a healthy 48 point lead heading into the final round of the championship. With only a maximum of 53 points available, Vernay simply needs to start the final race to be crowned champion. Given Vernay's competitive nature, however, he would love nothing more than to finish the season with one more victory and his first on an oval.

One disappointed spectator that watched Mann and Vernay was Philip Major. After having troubles in qualifying, he was forced to start at the rear of the field. At the start of the race, he was involved in heavy contact in Turn 4 that necessitated a red flag, eliminating him early in the event. Given the result he enjoyed just one week ago in Chicago, this was obviously a disappointment for Major, but he's fully optimistic about ending the season on a high note at the final race in a few weeks.

From here, Mann, Vernay, Major, and the rest of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team will have three weekends off before the final race of the season at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on the weekend of October 2nd. Coverage will be available on indycar.com and firestoneindylights.com.

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

"I took a good start after I was able to overtake Martin Plowman. If I would have caught him sooner, it would have been a different story. The car was great for me, but at the end we experienced some understeer. Campos was quick at the end and I wanted to keep my place and finish behind James Hinchcliffe to keep the championship. It was a great race and I am really happy. I want to congratulate Pippa for doing a great job and Sam Schmidt Motorsports."

No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

"In some ways, it has been a tough year with what happened in Indy and Birmingham. We came fairly close last weekend, but we just missed it in qualifying and in the race. This weekend we started out right and got it in qualifying and took it in the race. I said my game plan was to run away and hide, but realistically I didn't think it would happen. I am so pleased and my team gave me an awesome car. I was praying that a caution didn't come out because if a caution didn't come out we had a really good chance of winning. I was praying that no one got into it behind me. I can't thank my team and my engineer enough. We've had some tough times this year, and being able to finally reward everyone for their hard work with this win has been fantastic!"

No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

"At the start, the car was really loose. I'm not sure. The car just got loose and there wasn't much I could do. I feel really bad for the guys because they've got a lot of work ahead of them. We'll just try to regroup and come back at Homestead and finish off the year on a high note."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt "What a great weekend for Pippa. She did everything she had to do, and she and the entire team executed very well to dominate like they did this weekend. It's a great accomplishment for her given some of the adversity she's had to face this year. As for J.K., we almost got the championship clinched here, and it looks like something completely out of the ordinary will have to happen for him not to win the title in Homestead. Knock on wood that that something out of the ordinary doesn't happen. As for Philip, it was a tough weekend for him, to say the least, but a good learning experience. This will make him stronger and a better racer for the future. It'll be interesting to see how he rebounds in Miami. We're all looking forward to having a great weekend there in a few weeks."

-source: ssm

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