SPARTA, Ky. -- After having two weekends off, the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team is headed towards the Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night's Kentucky 100 Indy Pro Series race. The event will mark the debut of the team's newest car and driver,...
SPARTA, Ky. -- After having two weekends off, the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team is headed towards the Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night's Kentucky 100 Indy Pro Series race.
The event will mark the debut of the team's newest car and driver, the #57 SMART Papers/Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry driven by Leilani Munter.
At the same time, the team remains focused on getting Alex Lloyd his first Indy Pro Series championship. He'll have a great chance of extending his points lead as this is the team that's won the last two Indy Pro Series races at the Kentucky Speedway.
Teammate Ryan Justice had the opportunity to test at the track last week, and he feels confident that he'll be able to roll his car off the truck ready to go.
Logan Gomez is exciting about returning to an oval as his last few runs on ovals have shown him making steady improvements in his race craft, culminating in a second-place finish at the last oval race in Nashville.
There are 20 cars entered this weekend, and with four of those coming from the Sam Schmidt Motorsports camp, the chances are in this team's favor to come away with a driver on the top step of the podium.
The first practice session takes place on Friday at 10:45 a.m. Qualifying will be later that evening at 5 p.m. The race itself is on Saturday night at 9:10, after the IndyCar Series race.
On championship chase: "From my point of view, if we can stay pretty much where we are and not lose too many points, even if we don't gain any, if we stay where we are through this weekend, we'll be in a position where we just have to finish the next few races. Anywhere out of the top 15 doesn't really matter. To be honest, even if we finished 10th, we're in a position now where it's going to take a lot of DNFs. We saw in Mid-Ohio when we didn't finish, we'd need another four of those really before it becomes an issue. I'm not really thinking too much about it. We're just trying to have a good race and makeup for the disappointment of the last couple of races, and if we do that, the championship will sort itself out."
On race: "I think on this track, we're hoping for pole and the win. It's probably going to be a close race. On these type of ovals, there's always a bit of luck involved with where you place yourself in the last few laps. Everybody is going to be using the draft so it's going to be a little bit tricky, but we should be in the front group. If we're in that top group with 10 laps to go, we should be able to pull it off."
"After our last run on an oval, I feel that I expect to qualify a little better. The team has figured out a few things we can improve on in qualifying. I think that'll just set us up better for the race. If we're as quick as were at the end of Nashville, if we start up front, we'll have more time and fewer cars to pass, and I expect to win. It'll be a nice platform to set us up for next year in terms of sponsorship, making my team will be happy, etc."
"Well, every race weekend we go expecting to come in and do well, but I'm particularly excited about this weekend because I've done a lot night racing. It'll definitely be a big change for the Indy Pro Series, and I'm excited about that as well. We went last weekend and had a good test there. I definitely love the circuit and was happy with my car at the end of the test. If we can unload and improve from there, we'll be in really good shape."
"I just want to learn as much as I can in this first race. I'm hoping to come home obviously staying out of trouble and keeping the car in one piece. If you would have asked me a couple of days ago, I would have been saying that I expect a top five out of myself since I've got such a great team. Since then, I met a couple of people that are in these races, and they're asking me why I'm expecting that. Why not? I don't want to be so demanding though. Basically, I want to drive a smart race, get laps, and get seat time. I'm sort of torn between those things because there's the competitive side in me that's saying qualify in the top five -- I want to be up there with the fast guys on the track. But usually, the really good guys are going to be up there. Then at the same time, when I did that IRL teleconference, when I said that, that I expect a top five out of myself, that I'd be disappointed without a top five, there were a couple of racers that were asking me why I'm being so hard on myself. This is my first open-wheel race and you shouldn't be depressed not being in the top five. I was told I just really need to learn and drive a smart race. So, I'm kind of torn between the two. Bottom line though, the most important thing is to not go out there and crash but just get seat time, learn how the car reacts in traffic, and just learn overall."