Brandon Wagner earned his first Firestone Indy Lights race win after leading 66 of 67 laps in the Fuzzys Ultra Premium Vodka 100. Wagner started third but quickly moved to the front, leading the first lap by 0.333 of a second over pole winner...
Brandon Wagner earned his first Firestone Indy Lights race win after leading 66 of 67 laps in the Fuzzys Ultra Premium Vodka 100. Wagner started third but quickly moved to the front, leading the first lap by 0.333 of a second over pole winner Pippa Mann. He then held off threats from Wade Cunningham and James Hinchcliffe to give Davey Hamilton Racing their first victory.
"The car was perfect," said Wagner. "I think the high line was the way to go, and my spotter, Dane Carter, did a great job on the radio. Hinch gave me all kinds of room up there, and the car freed up and let me get the momentum to get back around again."
Although Wagner led all but one lap, he was pressured the entire way. James Hinchcliffe finished second after running side-by-side with Wagner for more than half the race. Officially, Wagner will be credited with leading 66 of 67 laps but Hinchcliffe pulled ahead several times. Only once did Hinchcliffe lead at the line.
"We had such a fun battle with Brandon," said Hinchcliffe. "I thought we had him a couple of times. We packed on a little more downforce because we thought it was going to be hotter than it was and the track a bit slicker. Once I pulled out alongside him in clean air, we couldn't quite complete the pass."
Wade Cunningham finished third driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "I got a great start," said Cunningham, who started fifth. "Moved straight up to third, straight up to second. I could hang onto Brandon's gearbox pretty easy in the first stint before the yellow. But people were using a lot of track here, and the conditions are tough, so it's hard to get your timing right. He chopped off a bit of my air and I lost momentum and dropped back to fourth. We caught a yellow and moved up to third but that's all we had today."
Adrian Campos Jr. made a late race move, passing Pippa Mann in traffic to finish fourth. Campos said he lost two positions on the restart but "I make an extreme pass on the straight line," during the last ten laps.
After starting from her third pole position this season, Mann slipped back, finishing fifth. "We put a little too much downforce on the car," Mann said. "We actually thought the track was going to be slipperier than that. Not the race winning decision but the right decision. I'm pleased to come home with fifth in the championship."
Mann missed the Mid-Ohio round after having surgery done on her hand. She broke her hand at Watkins Glen and drove at Toronto and Edmonton prior to the surgery.
J.K. Vernay won the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship over James Hinchcliffe scoring 494 points to Hinchcliffe's 471. Vernay, a series rookie, struggled through the weekend, finishing 15th, one lap down to the leaders. Vernay had only to take the green flag to clinch the championship.
"It is quite difficult to enjoy the title with a race like that," said Vernay. "I'm happy we did a great 12 races but the last race was horrible. It's difficult for driver who is competitive to finish last."