Pippa Mann dominated the Kentucky 100 Firestone Indy Lights race at Kentucky Speedway by taking complete control of the race at the start and leading the entire 67 lap distance. Starting from her second pole position this season, Mann pulled away at the start and never looked back. She crossed the finish line 6.8327 seconds ahead of second place finisher James Hinchcliffe.
"We came fairly close last weekend, but we just missed it in qualifying and in the race," said Mann, who finished second last week at Chicagoland. "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."
Hinchcliffe had hopes of remaining in contention for the championship but JK Vernay finished third, scoring enough points to be crowned champion by taking the green flag at Homestead Miami Speedway next month.
"It was certainly an interesting race," said Hinchcliffe. "I have never seen a 1.5-mile oval play out like that in Firestone Indy Lights. 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."
Third place finisher Vernay was pressured throughout the late stages of the race by Adrian Campos Jr. Although he was faster than Vernay, Campos was unable to execute a pass, despite repeated attempts in Turns One and Two. Campos finished fourth, setting the fastest race lap on the final lap.
"The car was great for me, but at the end we experienced some understeer," said Vernay. "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."
Campos said Vernay's car was 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 picked up eight positions, finishing fifth and after starting 13th.
Charlie Kimball finished sixth and his Andretti Autosport teammate Martin Plowman finished seventh after starting on the outside of the front row.
Brandon Wagner finished eighth and Arie Luyendyk Jr. was ninth, the last car on the lead lap. Dan Clarke rounded out the top ten.
The race was stopped once. The red flag was shown after a first lap incident involving multiple drivers. Philip Major spun, collecting Bryan Herta Autosport teammates Daniel Herrington and Stefan Wilson.
"We got off to a conservative start and wanted to get a few laps under our belt before I started moving forward," said Herrington. "Unfortunately, when you start at the back, everything that happens is in front of you. Philip Major spun in front of us and we didn't have anywhere to go around him. Both teammates were taken out because of it. It was a really tough day."
Herrington was a late addition to the team after Sebastian Saveedra decided on Friday night to severe his ties to Bryan Herta Autosport.
Despite heavy damage to the cars, no one was hurt in the incident.