Saavedra quickest in Indy Freedom 100 test day

Sebastian Saavedra recorded 57 laps around the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indy Lights open test but it was his eighth tour of the circuit that put him atop the speed chart for the day. Early in the session Saavedra's averaged 191.278 mph around the 2.5-mile track and the lap held up for most of the day.

Sebastian Saavedra.
Photo by Chris Jones - IRL.

"We are working hard on our race setup," said Saavedra. "I think we were able to pick up the pace very early, and throughout the day we made small changes on last year's setup. From there we worked as a team, and we did an awesome job. I can't wait to come back for the race."

Saavedra won his first oval race nine days ago at Kansas Speedway. It was his first time on a high speed oval.

Wade Cunningham was second fastest driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Cunnigham's best was 0.0761 seconds off from Saavedra at 190.969 mph.

"It's nice being back," said Cunningham, winner of the Freedom 100 in 2006. "It's good validation to be in a good car, then put up a good result. I had a great car that enabled me to go quick straight away. Obviously, we still have a little bit of work to do because the AGR car is still a little bit quicker, but we've got a couple of weeks before the race where we can sit down and analyze where we can come up with a stronger package and come out race weekend and contend for the win."

Panther Racing's Martin Plowman was third fastest with a lap averaging 190.891. "It always nice to see your name at the top of the time sheets, but this is only an Open Test," Plowman said. "It's important to come away with a good feeling for the car and the track. I think we achieved that today. I learned a lot. There's still some work for me as I learn the line, but the car is fast.

Saavedra's AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing teammate J.R. Hildebrand averaged 190.81 mph. He was fourth fastest. "We were really quick early in the day," reported Hildebrand.

"We had some trouble with our setup pad, so we didn't run much in the afternoon, but I think we were one of the first or second quickest cars running on our own, so that sets us up for qualifying. I'm just looking forward to the race. I had a great race weekend last year, and it's such a cool opportunity to race at the Speedway."

Andrew Prendeville showed early speed, staying in the top five throughout the session. Prendeville turned 72 laps with his fastest at 190.709 mph.

"It's a beautiful day, which we didn't get last year," said Prendeville. "The track is in good condition, so everyone has gone quick. I'm very happy. Our car is good and it's good in traffic."

Ana Beatriz.
Photo by Shawn Payne - IRL.

Seven drivers topped speeds in excess of 190 mph with Ana Beatriz (190.601 mph) and James Davison (190.031) placing sixth and seventh, respectively.

Junior Strous, who won both ends of the doubleheader at St. Petersburg, was ninth fastest at 189.576 mph.

Series points leader Jonathan Summerton ended the day 16th. He said he had fun on the high speed track but he also noted that it was "harsh on the tire."

Summerton added, "It really wasn't a productive day, except we know we have to find something a little different. We weren't where we wanted to be today."

Logan Gomez and Brandon Wagner shared the No. 32 Davey Hamilton/Kingdom Racing entry. Gomez was 0.236 seconds faster at 188.752 mph while Wagner averaged 187.822 mph.

Gomez, who is till looking for a ride in the Freedom 100 said he helped set up the car, "as a favor to the team."

Gomez tested with the team during the preseason.

The real test for the Indy Lights will come on Thursday, May 21 with two practices followed by qualifying to set the grid for the Firestone Freedom 100 race to be held on Friday May 22nd; also known as Carb Day during the month of May at the Brickyard.