Long Beach: RLR/Andersen Racing qualifying notes

Summerton Qualifies Fifth; Romancini Qualifies 14th For RLR/Andersen Racing Saturday at Long Beach LONG BEACH, Calif., April 18 - RLR/Andersen Racing's two Firestone Indy Lights drivers, Jonathan Summerton and Mario Romancini, qualified fifth ...

Summerton Qualifies Fifth; Romancini Qualifies 14th For RLR/Andersen Racing Saturday at Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif., April 18 - RLR/Andersen Racing's two Firestone Indy Lights drivers, Jonathan Summerton and Mario Romancini, qualified fifth and 14th, respectively on Saturday morning in preparation for Sunday's 45-lap Firestone Indy Lights race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street circuit.

Under a new qualifying format instituted this year for street courses, the 25-car field was randomly split into two groups for qualifying. The fastest driver won the pole and the fastest driver from the other group earned the second starting spot. The rest of the grid was formed with the cars from the polesitter's group, which was the second group on Saturday, taking the inside positions, and the cars from the first group taking the outside positions based on their group rankings, not by the field's combined times.

Summerton, of Kissimmee, Fla., posted the third-fastest lap of the second group on the seventh of 11 laps he ran in qualifying with a 1:15.8578 (93.396 miles per hour), despite an oversteering condition. He wasn't able to pit for new Firestone Firehawk tires due to a late yellow in that group when Gustavo Yacaman hit a tire wall in Turn 9, so that ended up being his fastest lap in the session. It was just 0.5883 of a second off polesitter J.R. Hildebrand's automatic new track record, since this is the series' first appearance here.

Andersen Racing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America sponsor Summerton's No. 9.

Romancini, of São Paulo, Brazil, was seventh in the first group so his No. 5 will start 14th in the race with a qualifying time of 1:15.9503 (93.282 mph). Hampered by traffic, his fastest lap was the 14th of 15 he turned in his Dallara, which is sponsored by Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America.

The new qualifying format helped Summerton but hurt Romancini. If the grid was set traditionally with combined times compared, Summerton would start eighth and Romancini would start tenth.

In earlier action, the highlight of Friday's two practice sessions for the team came when Summerton laid down the second-fastest lap of the first practice session on his last lap with a 1:16.4940 at 92.619 mph.

Tomorrow's race starts at 12:40 p.m. Eastern time (9:40 a.m. local time), and will be covered live on indycar.com. VERSUS will air its taped coverage at 4 p.m. Eastern on Monday.

For more information on the team, see its Web site at andersenracingteam.com. For more information on its 1-mile road course test track in Palmetto, Fla., see andersenracepark.com.

Post-qualifying quotes follow:

Jonathan Summerton: "We had way too much oversteer. That's it, basically.

"We made some changes from the first practice session and we overdid it a bit. We still have the same problem, and we exasperated it a bit more.

"Traffic was OK. We'll go over the data and try to improve for tomorrow."

Mario Romancini: "I was expecting to do better than that. I got caught behind Junior Strous on what would have been my best lap. Then with the way the yellows fell, we didn't have time to come in for new tires.

"The street course qualifying format hurt me too. I feel certain that some cars in the second group will run slower than I did, but they'll start further up on the grid due to the odd/even rule for the two groups."

-credit: rlr/ar

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Junior Strous , Jonathan Summerton , Mario Romancini , Gustavo Yacaman