Watkins Glen: Sam Schmidt Motorsports race report

VERNAY WINS AT WATKINS GLEN, EXTENDS POINTS LEAD; WINSLOW COMES FROM REAR TO EARN TOP-FIVE WATKINS GLEN, NY - J.K. Vernay capitalized on a mistake by James Hinchcliffe on Lap 19 of the Corning 100 at Watkins Glen International to take the...

VERNAY WINS AT WATKINS GLEN, EXTENDS POINTS LEAD; WINSLOW COMES FROM REAR TO EARN TOP-FIVE

WATKINS GLEN, NY - J.K. Vernay capitalized on a mistake by James Hinchcliffe on Lap 19 of the Corning 100 at Watkins Glen International to take the lead and never look back to win his third race of the season on Sunday afternoon.

The win is Vernay's third for the year, and it allowed him to extend his points lead over the new man in second-place, Hinchcliffe, to 35.

Starting from third, Vernay moved into the second spot at the start of the race and hounded HInchcliffe throughout the run. Following a restart after halfway through the race is when Vernay was able to seize his opportunity and lead the last 12 laps of the 30 lap event.

On the flip side of that victory was a disappointment for Pippa Mann who was involved in a first lap incident with Dan Clarke in Turn 9. Mann had gotten a run on Clarke after he was involved in another incident with a car in front of him. She tried to move on the inside of the slower and damaged Clarke, but Clarke hung onto the fight on the outside, and eventually, the two tangled and both fell out prematurely. A disappointing finish for Mann who had shown speed in the practice sessions and felt her car was on pace during the race.

Philip Major tied his career-best finish, again, with another sixth-place result. Starting from seventh, he fell back a spot on the first lap before the full-course yellow. On the lap five restart, he'd lose another position. However, he hung in there, and on the lap 17 restart, his car came to life. He was 10th at the time, but one-by-one, moved his way back into the sixth-spot by lap 23 and followed his teammate, James Winslow, home the rest of the distance.

Besides Vernay, Winslow was a driver to watch on the track. Starting from dead last, he'd come all the way up to finish fifth in the race, his best result of the year. He passed Rodrigo Barbosa at the start and inherited three positions in the first two laps due to the incident with Mann and Clarke and Charlie Kimball having his car stall before the race. Starting from 10th on the lap five restart, he moved his way through the field earning each position the hard way - by passing. He was on pace to catch and pass Martin Plowman for fourth but got held up by his teammate, Kimball, who had rejoined the race several laps down. Winslow ran out of time, but given the circumstances of the weekend, and year thus far, was satisfied with his fifth-place result.

From here, the series takes a weekend off before returning to action on the city streets of downtown Toronto on the weekend of July 18th.

No. 7 LUCAS OIL/CJ Motorsport/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay

"It was a really hard race. I didn't know the track when I arrived here. The track is so beautiful and so complicated. We improved practice after practice, and by the race, the car was just fabulous. (James) Hinchcliffe made a little mistake in the corner, and I was able to overtake him. It's just fantastic. The team did a great job. This is very good for the championship. Three wins for a rookie isn't bad. I'm very, very proud. This was one of my best victories. Thanks to the whole Sam Schmidt team for a wonderful job this weekend. This is a great victory we can all celebrate."

No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

"I had the inside line. (Dan Clarke) didn't want to give me any room. He looked like he had an injured car. I assumed he was going to give me room with an injured car, and I thought I had the pass made. Instead, we were both out of the race on lap one. The boys did a great job in getting everything ready. We had the balance back in the number 11 car, and I thought we were going to be up in the fight with the rest, but it wasn't to be."

No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

"We started seventh, and I guess six is the magic number. That makes it three win a row. In Toronto, we'll definitely be looking to improve on that spot. Conditions were difficult. It was hot, and we decided to go with a lower grip setup to be quicker on the straights which paid off. I was able to make a few good passes. I just struggled a bit with restarts. If we can just gain a bit of time on the restarts, we'll be able to finish higher in the next race - maybe even on the podium. We just have to keep working on it. Our race pace isn't bad, it's just those restarts. Other than that, everything was good. Thanks to my team for a great effort."

No. 77 FOCAL POINT/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Winslow

"We totally transformed the car for the race. We didn't get many laps in practice and qualifying because of a sump problem. I ran over a curb and it lost all the oil. I didn't qualify, so we started in the back. The car was fantastic today. Full credit to the team for finding the setup. I found the car more comfortable and I was able to push. I was catching Plowman for fourth and I thought there was a potential for a top-four finish, but Charlie Kimball got around me even though he was a few lap down and slowed me up and kept me from passing his teammate. It's really frustrating, but that's racing, and I'm very happy with fifth-place. Everyone on the team did a great job this weekend."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt

"It was a great race for J.K. and the whole Lucas Oil team. He had a lot to learn and catch up on, but he made things count when it mattered and capitalized on the opportunities he had. It was a disappointment for Pippa and her team. It's unfortunate that her race ended the way it did. Philip had anther solid day today. Since the second race on this year, he's done a great job of getting laps and learning. A podium finish is awaiting for him in the not too distant future. James had an awesome race. He's shown over and over again that he can make passes happen where others can't. To start from last and come away with a top-five is very satisfying for he and that whole crew. Let's go on to Toronto and see if we can work on getting all of our cars in the top-five there."

-source: ssm

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