Kentucky: Series race report

SPARTA, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010) - Pippa Mann did everything right to win her first Firestone Indy Lights race. J.K. Vernay did just about everything right during the season - and just enough in the Drive Smart. Buckle Up Kentucky 100 - to...

SPARTA, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010) - Pippa Mann did everything right to win her first Firestone Indy Lights race. J.K. Vernay did just about everything right during the season - and just enough in the Drive Smart. Buckle Up Kentucky 100 - to virtually wrap up the series championship.

Mann, the pole sitter in the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, jumped to a large lead after a Lap 5 restart and cruised to a 6.8372-second victory over James Hinchcliffe's No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling entry. She's the second female (Ana Beatriz at Nashville and Iowa) to win in Firestone Indy Lights.

Vernay, who was third in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, takes a 48-point lead over Hinchcliffe into the season finale Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and only needs to take the green flag to clinch the title.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

Daniel Herrington will take over the driving duties of the No. 29 William Rast car for Bryan Herta Autosport in the Drive Smart. Buckle Up Kentucky 100 at Kentucky Speedway.

Sebastian Saavedra qualified 12th for the 67-lap race on the 1.5-mile oval. Saavedra, who started third and finished 11th in the Chicagoland 100 a week earlier, is fifth in the Firestone Indy Lights standings. He has seven top-10 finishes and one pole start in 11 races in the No. 29 car. He also competed in the Indianapolis 500 in a Bryan Herta Autosport entry.

"Sebastian Saavedra's father informed me last night that Sebastian has decided not to participate in today's race," Herta said. "This turn of events has come to me, our sponsor and our entire race team as quite a surprise. Needless to say I am deeply disappointed.

"We greatly appreciate and admire Daniel's willingness to step into our No. 29 William Rast Indy Lights entry on extremely short notice."

Herrington, who won at Chicagoland Speedway in 2009 in a Bryan Herta Autosport car, has not competed in Firestone Indy Lights this season.

Saavedra made the following statement via his twitter account: "I will not be racing for the rest of the season with Bryan Herta Autosport. It was a tough decision but it's made. After the last races, things haven't gone the way they should. And at last my managers and main sponsor made the decision to stop to not continue harming my racing career and name. I'm frustrated and sad to break the news but that's it. I'm very thankful to all my mechanics, and engineers. Unfortunately, things did not work contract wise but I will still be working hard to bring my countries name high."

DRIVE SMART. BUCKLE UP KENTUCKY 100 POST RACE NOTES:

* Pippa Mann is the winner of the Drive Smart, Buckle Up Kentucky 100. This is her first Firestone Indy Lights win. Her previous best finish was second at Chicagoland last weekend.

* Mann is the second women to win in the Firestone Indy Lights. She joins Ana Beatriz as the only women to win in Firestone Indy Lights.

* James Hinchcliffe finished second, his seventh podium of the 2010 season. He has only finished outside the top-10 once this season.

* J.K. Vernay finished third and now leads James Hinchcliffe by 48 points. By simply starting the next race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Vernay will clinch the Firestone Indy Lights championship.

* Adrian Campos Jr. finished fourth, matching career best finish. He previously finished fourth at Iowa.

DRIVE SMART. BUCKLE UP KENTUCKY 100 POST RACE QUOTES:

PIPPA MANN (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports, winner Drive Smart Buckle Up Kentucky 100): "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."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR Xtreme Coil Drilling, finished second): "It was certainly an interesting race. I have never seen a 1.5-mile oval play out like that in Firestone Indy Lights. It just shows how we mix it up because at Chicago we had the third closest finish and this was probably the biggest winning margin in history of 1.5-mile ovals. I am a little bit disappointed that we didn't get the chance to go up and fight against Pippa (Mann) because we set the car up to be good in traffic. When we were running in clean air we weren't quite slippery enough. We have to be happy with the points today and look ahead."

J.K. VERNAY: (No. 7 Lucas/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, finished third): "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 (Mann) for doing a great job and Sam Schmidt Motorsports."

ADRIAN CAMPOS JR. (No. 2 TMR Xtreme Coil Drilling, finished fourth): "The car was tough to drive at the beginning, the first laps, the temperature of the tires or something. When I got the correct temperature on the tires, the car was working really, really good. I went up to the front really fast. The guys of the team gave me a really good car and they did a really good job. I was trying to overtake J.K. He was so very, very strong. He was defending his position on the inside. When two cars are going that close and you are trying to overtake someone with no one in front, it's really tough. I was trying it with fourth, five and sixth gear. You know trying to try every way to overtake and get to the podium, but it wasn't so."

GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 10 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, finished fifth): "We had a really hard week and we struggled to even to get the car over here. Just finishing the race was really good. We have all four pieces on the cars and that's always good, especially after being taken out last week. I had a huge moment in Turn 2 in the middle. I got sideways big time and I thought the race was over, but I managed to save it. It was good payback to beat (Charlie) Kimball after last week and bring it home with four wheels on the ground, rolling like a baby."

***

The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indy Japan 300 on Sept. 19 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Midnight (ET) by VERSUS on Sept. 19. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season concludes with the Miami 100 on Oct. 2 at Kentucky Speedway.

-source: irl

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Series INDYLIGHTS