LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2010) - In Firestone Indy Lights, James Hinchcliffe led all 45 laps in the Grand Prix of Long Beach to score his first career victory in the series. Hinchcliffe held off Charlie Kimball by .8370 of a second. Series...
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2010) - In Firestone Indy Lights, James Hinchcliffe led all 45 laps in the Grand Prix of Long Beach to score his first career victory in the series. Hinchcliffe held off Charlie Kimball by .8370 of a second. Series points leader J.K. Vernay finished third.
Hinchcliffe held off Kimball on three restarts over the last 14 laps of the race to ensure victory.
GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH (Firestone Indy Lights) POST-RACE NOTES:
* James Hinchcliffe earned his first career Firestone Indy Lights victory today. His previous best was second in 2009 at Mid-Ohio. This was his 18th career Firestone Indy Lights start.
* James Hinchcliffe led all 45 laps today, a career best. His previous best was 20 laps in 2009 at Kentucky, the only event that he previously led.
* The last time a driver led every lap of a Firestone Indy Lights race was August 2009 at Infineon, where 2009 series champion J.R. Hildebrand led wire to wire.
* This is the second Firestone Indy Lights victory for Team Moore Racing. Pablo Donoso won for the team in 2008 at Infineon.
* Charlie Kimball finished second, matching his career best set last weekend at Barber.
* Series points leader J.K. Vernay finished third, ending his two-race winning streak this season but continuing his streak of finishing on the podium in all three races this season.
* Tonis Kasemets finished sixth in his first Firestone Indy Lights start.
* Rookie Philip Major finished a career-best seventh. His previous best was 10th at Barber.
* Rookie Niall Quinn earned his first career top-10 finish. His previous best was 14th at Barber in his series debut.
* Stefan Wilson placed 17th, his first finish outside of the top 10 since Watkins Glen in 2009. His streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes since Watkins Glen ended at this event.
GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH (Firestone Indy Lights) POST-RACE QUOTES:
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling, winner): "It feels like it has been a long time coming. We had a couple of close calls last season, and starting from the pole in St. Pete didn't work out for us. All weekend long, the Team Moore Racing car was great, and I owe a huge thank you to all of the boys. To get a first win out of the way and another pole is huge. Basically, it was a perfect weekend for us, and to do it here in Long Beach, at one of the staple events on the IndyCar Series calendar, is phenomenal. Congrats to Charlie and J.K., as well. They had a great race. We had a really good rhythm and pace, and then I kept seeing those yellows come out, but we had a great car on the restarts. Today was about not making mistakes, and it was great to have the pole for today's race. Today's win was also a relief. There was a lot of pressure last year to win a race and we didn't get that done, so that weighed heavily on my mind all through the offseason. It was a huge relief and hopefully the first of many."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 Bryan Herta Autosport, fourth): "It was a long race. I'm grateful for the points I was able to gather today. Points today were the most important. I had a great car. It was a crazy start. I was just trying to survive the first corner. I'm not disappointed in this finish. I'm happy what we did today and am looking forward to the ovals."
J.K. VERNAY (No.7 Lucas/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): "This morning the car was perfect in warm-up, and I was feeling confident. But then during the race, I didn't really understand what was wrong with the car or what was happening. It was difficult for me to stay behind Charlie and Hinchcliffe. I am happy to be in the front of the championship, though, and as a rookie I feel great about my season to this point. And when fighting for the championship, third place is not bad."
TONIS KASEMETS (No. 35 Palm Beach Indy Racing, sixth): "For the first Indy Lights race ever in my life and my first time in an Indy Lights car, I think it's a super result, being in the top six. So I'm really, really happy. It was very tough to pass because we carried a lot of downforce, but we did it for my security, so I could feel secure in the car. But it really hurt us in a straight line. But the car was very good, and the team did a great job."
STEFAN WILSON (No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport, 17th): "It was a tough day, a tough weekend, really. We made a lot of improvement as the weekend went on. It was really difficult to pass, so we just worked to maintain our position. Before the yellow came out, it looked like we had a fast race car, but after the yellow, the car just wasn't there. We had a fuel alarm on the rash, and we were missing some RPM's. There wasn't any sign of it during warm-up, which is really bizarre. We didn't see it coming, so we'll just have to go back, study the data and find out what the problem is."
The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on Friday, May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's the first oval event of the season for the series.