Watkins Glen: Sam Schmidt Motorsports qualifying report

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS QUALIFIES AT THE GLEN AND IS READY FOR RACE DAY WATKINS GLEN, NY - J.K. Vernay led the way for Sam Schmidt Motorsports on Saturday afternoon during qualifying for Sunday's Corning 100 at Watkins Glen International by ...

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS QUALIFIES AT THE GLEN AND IS READY FOR RACE DAY

WATKINS GLEN, NY - J.K. Vernay led the way for Sam Schmidt Motorsports on Saturday afternoon during qualifying for Sunday's Corning 100 at Watkins Glen International by placing his car third on the starting grid.

His teammates Philip Major followed in ninth, Pippa Mann in 12th, and James Winslow in 14th.

Vernay, who currently leads the Firestone Indy Lights championship, was satisfied with his result given the toughness he endured learning the circuit he's racing on for the first time. The times in qualifying he posted were the fastest in the weekend and puts him in a good position to either maintain or extend his lead in the championship.

Major and Mann had shown speed throughout the morning practice sessions. In fact, Major had finished the first session in the third spot. Unfortunately, neither were able to replicate their order on the grid during the qualifying session.

Winslow only had one lap officially timed as he went off-course early in the session after hitting a patch of oil. He was unable to restart, and due to bringing out a full-course yellow, had his best time removed. Like Long Beach and Barber Park, he'll have to charge his way through the field, but it's something he's shown he can do.

All four drivers will have one more practice session on Sunday morning at 9:30 before the race which takes place at 1:30 p.m.

The Corning 100 and all other on track session can be seen live on indycar.com or firestoneindylights.com. All times listed are in ET.

DRIVER NOTES & QUOTES

#7 LUCAS OIL/CJ Motorsport/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay
Qualified third with lap time of 1:38.1532.

"Today ended up being not too bad after having some troubles in the morning testing sessions. Practice was really difficult for me. I didn't know the track, and this track is very difficult. The two guys that qualified ahead of me, (James) Hinchcliffe and (Charlie) Kimball, they knew the track well because they have the experience. It was really hard, but finally in qualifying, things got better. The team worked really hard on my car. We just have to improve it a little more for the race. We're in a good spot as far as the championship is concerned. We just need to make a good start and hopefully can get into second after the first corner or at the end of the straight. I know Hinch is fast, but we'll do what we can to win. Nothing crazy, obviously, but the most important thing tomorrow is get good points and finish well. Hopefully I'm on the top of the podium. We'll see. Today, I'm happy because the track was so hard to learn, but for tomorrow, we've got our goals set high."

#11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann
Qualified 12th with lap time of 1:39.4400.

"We unloaded fairly well this morning and just kept working away finding bits and pieces. We were easily top-10 in both sessions, and it looked like we had a fairly good chance to qualify there too. To go from that to qualifying 12th I think highlights the fact that this is not the first time qualifying has been an issue for me. It's not that I drive slower or make more mistakes, it just seems I am unable to get the most from the tires. Going through the data after the session against J.K., who qualified third, it was very interesting. In all the high speed corners where the car loads up I was not losing any time, and there are a lot of high speed sections on this track. But in the two slow sections, all of a sudden in qualifying, I'm losing a lot of time. That gives me a very clear indication of where I will need to work harder at improving next time. Taking some positives from the day, we were good in the other sessions. It's a shame we weren't good in the one that matters, but I have every belief that tomorrow in warm-up and then in the race, we will be back to being a top-10 car. It leaves me work to do tomorrow, but hopefully I should be able to pass around here."

#49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major
Qualified ninth with lap time of 1:38.8110.

"It was definitely an interesting first day for me at Watkins Glen, to say the least. Our first two practices went very well. In the first one, we finished it in third. We unloaded the car with it already being very quick with a good setup. In the second practice, we experimented a few things. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to match the pace that we had when it came time to qualify. I think we probably went a bit the wrong way with the setup, and I think the only benefit from that is we know what to do and have a good idea of what to do for the race. It's unfortunate that we weren't able to get a good result in qualifying after we had been doing so well in the morning practice sessions. We'll have to claw back what we lost in qualifying during the race. I'm looking forward to it."

#77 FOCAL POINT/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Winslow
Qualified 14th with lap time of 1:43.9384.

"Needless to say, I'm disappointed after qualifying. We struggled with the setup a bit in finding a good balance. I went off after hitting some oil, and after that, the oil pump broke off the engine and dumped out all the oil. We only got one official lap in for the session, and unfortunately, it wasn't where we needed to be. We'll be strong for the race, and I'm going to have to make things happen, but it is what it is. I'm confident we'll have a good showing."

-source: ssm

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Series INDYLIGHTS