RLR/Andersen Racing's Romancini Charges from 13th to Fourth In Saturday's Firestone Indy Lights Race At Iowa Speedway NEWTON, Iowa, June 20 - It wasn't the flamboyant podium finish he recorded at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the total ...
RLR/Andersen Racing's Romancini Charges from 13th to Fourth In Saturday's Firestone Indy Lights Race At Iowa Speedway
NEWTON, Iowa, June 20 - It wasn't the flamboyant podium finish he recorded at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the total domination he displayed at the Milwaukee Mile, but RLR/Andersen Racing's Mario Romancini continued to impress Firestone Indy Lights fans by coming from 13th to fourth in Saturday night's Miller Lite 100 at Iowa Speedway despite a broken weight jacker.
In some ways Romancini's performance on Saturday night was even more impressive than his recent headlines, since the broken part stopped all the in-cockpit adjustments the young driver from Sao Paulo, Brazil could make to his No. 5 during the last 25 laps of the 115-lap/100.625-mile race. Despite the problem he trailed only winner Ana Beatriz, runner-up Wade Cunningham and third-place finisher James Hinchcliffe at the checkered even though he started the event on the inside of Row 7 and he was racing on a track where it is notoriously hard to pass.
By improving so many positions, Romancini once again won the $1,000 Force For Earth Hard Charger award.
Even more importantly, the strong finish moved Romancini and his entry, which is sponsored by Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America, to second place in the championship point standings. He now trails only J.R. Hildebrand, who has 227 points to Romancini's 211.
Romancini stayed in 13th place for the first five laps, and then got 12th by passing Mike Potekhen with six laps down. He passed Gustavo Yacaman for 11th on the next lap right before a full-course yellow waved to tow in the car of Sergey Mokshantsev.
He dropped back to 12th on the restart on lap 16 when Potekhen passed him back, but he repassed him on the next circuit. He moved into the top 10 on lap 18 by passing Brandon Wagner, and then nailed down ninth on lap 19 by passing Andrew Prendeville.
He passed Pippa Mann for eighth on the very next lap, and got seventh with 22 laps down by powering by Charlie Kimball. He moved into sixth two laps later by passing Martin Plowman, which put him directly behind the eventual winner.
Romancini remained in sixth place through lap 37, and then broke into the top five with 38 laps down by passing Hinchcliffe. The top five at that point were Cunningham, Hildebrand, Daniel Herrington, Beatriz and Romancini.
The top five stayed in that order until lap 52 when Romancini passed Beatriz for fourth, but Beatriz got him back on lap 53 seconds before Mann spun on the frontstretch to bring out another full-course caution.
The story changed dramatically on lap 59 and 60. The green came out for a few seconds on lap 59, but then the yellow came out again when Wagner hit the wall in Turn 2 after contact with Prendeville and Hildebrand was given a drive-through penalty for blocking Herrington. That resulted in Romancini climbing up to third, behind only Cunningham and Herrington.
The green waved again with 66 laps down. Romancini remained in third place behind Cunningham and Herrington until lap 94, when Beatriz and Romancini both passed Herrington. Although the second-place driver had changed Romancini was still in third at that point, but Hinchcliffe got around him on lap 96 to push him back to fourth. That's where he finished, although Beatriz made the winning move by Cunningham with 107 laps down. The race ended under yellow when Mann flipped on the backstretch on the white-flag lap after contact with James Davison in Turn 2. Luckily she escaped serious injury.
Romancini's teammate for this race, Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile, had a difficult evening. He started 15th and finished 12th, six laps down, after struggling with the handling of his car all night. He drove the No. 9 sponsored by Andersen Racing and Allied Interior Products.
Romancini's fastest lap was lap 72, when he turned the 0.875-mile tri-oval in 20.2790 seconds for an average speed of 158.706 miles per hour. Donoso's best lap was lap 21, which he did in 21.2244 for an average speed of 151.637 mph.
The race was delayed one hour due to weepers, or water coming up through the track surface due to a saturated water table, in Turn 4.
The race will be broadcast on VERSUS at 4 p.m. Eastern time on Monday.
The next Firestone Indy Lights race is slated for July 4 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. More information on that event and the rest of the schedule can be found on indycar.com/pro.
Mario Romancini: "It was a good race for the championship. I had a problem with my weight jacker; it wasn't working for the last 25 laps or so, which made it very, very difficult. The car had a lot of push and there wasn't anything I could do about it. I was up to third but then I got blocked by Herrington and then Hinchcliffe and Beatriz passed me. There wasn't anything I could do about it. Still, it was a very, very good result for us, especially with the problem with the weight jacker. I think it was a mechanical problem with it; I didn't hit anything.
"It is very difficult to pass here. I was just trying to take advantage of other people's mistakes. I was able to pass both on the inside of Turn 1 and to the outside of Turn 3, so that proves I had a good car and we did a good job.
"Now we go to the road courses. We'll continue to work hard. I have to thank the guys; it was not an easy day for us with the problems we had in qualifying, but everybody did a good job. [Sebastian] Saavedra did not have a good race tonight and he was ahead of me in the points, so maybe I am second now; I don't know. But I am very happy to come from 13th to fourth in this race."
Pablo Donoso: "I honestly don't know what to say. My car was just very inconsistent, and I couldn't do anything with it. The team car finished fourth but I couldn't do anything with it all night, and I don't know why. The team said they were sorry to me but I say the same to them; I really don't know why we had problems. I have done well here in the past, and I wanted to get the team good points so they could stay up high in the championship.
"I had a couple of close calls. I was behind Davison when he touched Pippa, and I was behind Wagner and Andrew Prendeville when they touched, but I didn't hit anything."