ANA BEATRIZ EARNS BEST ROAD COURSE START OF 2009 IN LEADING SAM SCHMIDT QUARTET IN SONOMA
SONOMA, Calif. -- A caution-filled 45-minute morning practice session and qualifying took place for the drivers and teams in Firestone Indy Lights at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, and when the checkered flag flew at the end of the day, Healthy Choice Driver Ana Beatriz found herself in her best road course qualifying position of the year with a third-place result.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammates James Hinchcliffe followed in fifth, Wade Cunningham in 13th, and Gustavo Yacaman in 16th.
Beatriz's lap was just .0182 seconds behind second-place, Sebastian Saavedra.
Drivers were forced to quickly adapt and fine tune their race cars during the morning session with the limited amount of time available to test before qualifying. Compounding difficulties was the fact that the session was slowed by three full-course caution periods, cutting the on-track time nearly in half.
During qualifying, Yacaman showed the early pace for the team, but as the session went on, his lap times did not improve as much as his competitors. Like he, Cunningham showed quick pace early on, but similarly, couldn't improve his times near the end as much as the others.
Hinchcliffe flirted with all five positions in the top five in the late minutes of the session, but had to settle for fifth after a couple drivers nipped him at the end. He felt as if there was more left in both the car and driver, however, and looks to maximize both during Sunday's race.
Beatriz was as high as second on the charts, but Saavedra just got her at the end by a narrow margin.
On Sunday, a 30-minute warm-up takes place at 8:30 a.m., followed by the race itself at 11:15 a.m. All on-track session times are listed in PDT and can be seen live via streaming video on indycar.com.
The television broadcast of the Carneros 100 airs on Monday, August 24, at 4 p.m. EDT on VERSUS.
DRIVER NOTES & QUOTES
#7 HINCHTOWN.com/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Hinchcliffe
"I am a little bit disappointed. We certainly felt like we had a car capable of the first two rows and looking back on it, I think my engineer and I got a little carried away on the setup and made a change in the wrong direction. The yellow flags were tough and the traffic was tough today, but we think we'll have a strong car for the race."
#11 LUCAS OIL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Wade Cunningham
"Obviously, this isn't the result we were hoping for after qualifying. We know that we're going to have a little help from the others in the field to get a good result, but anything can happen once the race starts. We have a decent car, and I'm confident we can move up. Hopefully, some of the others in front of me can have some problems, and we can come away with a solid result and still keep things close in the championship. All we can do at this point is give it our best effort and let the cards fall where they may."
#20 HEALTHY CHOICE/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Ana Beatriz
"This is a great result for the Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt team. With that said, to be just two hundredths off of second position is a little frustrating. Still, this is a really great result for the entire team. We have a great race car, and I'm looking forward to a competitive race."
#44 CREPES & WAFFLES/TUVACOL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Gustavo Yacaman
"Well, I don't know what to say after our day. If I knew what our problems were, we obviously wouldn't be in the position we're in. I really can't explain it. I'm just going to have to work with my engineer to see where we may be missing some time and try to improve on it in the warm-up and hopefully have a solid car for the race."
Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation
On Thursday afternoon, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, in conjunction with Shoot For a Cure, hosted nearly 150 competitors in its "Walk, Run, and Wheelathon," at the Infineon Raceway. This was the second event of this type this season, with the first being in Toronto. Participants were able to race on a modified version of the course used by the IndyCar Series. Funds raised will go towards funding paralysis research, helping the almost six million people in the United States who have some form of paralysis.
On Saturday, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation hosted a "Day at the Races" at the Sam Schmidt Motorsports area in the Firestone Indy Lights paddock. Nearly 30 guests, comprising mainly of people from the local VA hospitals, met with the team's drivers, enjoyed lunch, a program with Sam Schmidt and the foundation's CEO and President, Ida Cahill, and a day of racing at the Infineon Raceway.