Chicagoland: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS ENTERS CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY LOOKING AT FINAL LEG OF THE SEASON JOLIET, Ill. - After a long haul back from northern California earlier in the week, Sam Schmidt Motorsports is ready for this weekend's action at ...


JOLIET, Ill. - After a long haul back from northern California earlier in the week, Sam Schmidt Motorsports is ready for this weekend's action at the Chicagoland Speedway, the 11th event on the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights calendar. One practice session takes place on Friday afternoon at 2:30 for 45 minutes. A second session takes place Saturday morning at 10 for another 45 minutes. Qualifying will follow later at 1 p.m. Then, the race will take place at 4:15 p.m. The Chicagoland 100 and all other on-track sessions can be seen live on or All times listed are in CT.

J.K. Vernay optimistic about championship chances even with last three events being all oval.

It's true that J.K. Vernay doesn't have quite the oval experience as his championship contenders. Having only run two ovals so far in his rookie season of Firestone Indy Lights, Indy and Iowa, it'd be easy to think he's at a disadvantage entering the home stretch of the championship chase. However, at Indy, he had one of the fastest cars on the track, and at Iowa, he earned a podium finish. These results have given him a good learning experience heading into the final races of the season. Vernay's confidence is very high knowing how well the team has done on oval circuits in the past, and more importantly, his confidence is very high in himself believing that he can get the job done in continuing to win races and, ultimately, the championship.

Pippa Mann has unfinished business on the oval tracks this year.

After winning the pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pippa Mann was very optimistic about the start to her oval season with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Unfortunately, she was involved in an accident out of her hands at the start of that event, leaving her battered and bruised for the Iowa race. Though she finished on the lead lap there, her eighth-place result wasn't what she hoped for. Entering this weekend, she comes with a determination to get the results she's expecting. Coming off a career-best finish of fifth just a few days ago at the Infineon Raceway, she's very confident and looks to capitalize on that momentum to finish the season strong, starting with a solid result on the wide-open track of Chicagoland Speedway.

Philip Major looks to finish the season on a strong note beginning this weekend.

Philip Major's best career Firestone Indy Lights result has been sixth - three times. Twice, it's come on two very distinctly different ovals. He's shown to be a quick learner on the oval circuits, and with just three races left in 2010, Major wants to take the opportunity to finish the season out with a high note and improve his career-best. With the last three events being on tracks that Sam Schmidt Motorsports has experienced success on (Chicagoland Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, and Homestead-Miami Speedway), Major feels very confident in being provided with a competitive car, and more importantly, using the recent lessons he's learned to parlay everything into top finishes from here on out.

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

"I'm going to do my best again this weekend. After a great weekend in Sonoma, we have a pretty good lead for the championship with three races left so we don't have to take too many risks. I'm sure we're going to have a good car for the weekend. The team ran well in Chicago last year. I've never raced at the track before so it's difficult to have many thoughts about it entering the race, but I'm very confident. I really like the ovals now. I'm confident on them. I'm sure we'll have a strong result. We don't have to push anything. We can just focus on finishing, but my goal is always the same. If I can win, I'll try everything I can to do so."

No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

"Chicagoland was a great, but intense, race last year. The top eight cars ran in a pack with the two leaders, two by two, all race long. I'm expecting the race to be similar this year. Staying out of trouble will be at a premium. I've been looking forward to getting back to the ovals almost the moment I stepped out of the car at Iowa. In Firestone Indy Lights, we only run five ovals this year, a total which, as someone who likes the ovals, I feel is too small a proportion of our series. Since Indy, I've had unfinished business on the superspeedways this year, and this will be my first time back on a superspeedway to have the chance to try and make that right. I believe we'll have a fast car and a good race car. I think we'll be in the hunt for pole, and I'll be disappointed if we're not in the hunt for the win in the race. Partly due to some bad luck, and partly due to braking my hand affecting the middle part of season, including trying to race with it broken at two races, and missing a race altogether, I'm no longer interested in points this year. That puts me in a very interesting position compared to people who have their championship position and points to think about."

No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

"I'm excited to get back onto the ovals. I've been looking forward to this weekend. I'm confident that we'll be able to start the weekend strong. I know the team will give me a great car to work with. I hear that the track caters to very close, side-by-side racing, so I'm looking forward to experiencing that. I'm just ready to get back onto these oval tracks and looking to get a few more strong results before the end of the year."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt

"We're excited that the final rounds of the championship are all on ovals we've enjoyed tremendous success at in the past. J.K. has a great shot to increase his championship lead this weekend, and Pippa and Philip will have a great chance to improve upon their best finishes of the year. The race at Chicagoland Speedway can be a bit hairy at times with all the side-by-side racing, but it's definitely one of the most exciting races on the schedule. We're just looking for a great weekend and look to start the final part of the season on a high note."

-source: ssm

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Pippa Mann , Phillip Major