IPS: Nashville: Sam Schmidt Motorsports race report

LOGAN GOMEZ HAS BEST FINISH OF SEASON, ALEX LLOYD HAS WORST Nashville, Tenn. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports entered the Nashville Superspeedway expecting to have great results over the weekend while taking home the coolest trophy in motor sports...


Nashville, Tenn. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports entered the Nashville Superspeedway expecting to have great results over the weekend while taking home the coolest trophy in motor sports -- a brand new Gibson guitar. Things started out well with point leader Alex Lloyd securing the pole on Friday, but unfortunately, the team was just shy of winning its fourth Nashville race in a row as Logan Gomez finished second on Saturday.

Lloyd finished 11th, the last car on the lead lap, and the team's third driver, Ryan Justice, came home in 8th.

For Gomez, the finish was his best in his short Indy Pro Series career and not unexpected given the potential he has shown in the most recent oval events.

At the Iowa Speedway, he had one of the fastest cars and was able to charge to the front. Though he made mistakes, he managed to keep his cool and work his way back up.

Unfortunately that day, a few mistakes at the wrong time took away his chance at a better finish than he would have hoped for.

On Saturday, he was able to take advantage of the mistakes of others late in the race to charge into second place and nearly into the race win.

As other cars were falling off the pace late in the running, Gomez made daring moves on the outside of Jaime Camara and Wade Cunningham to gain positions.

Being a predominantly single-groove race track, Gomez admitted that his hands never moved so fast in a race car as when he made his moves late.

For his teammate, Alex Lloyd, victory seemed to be certain. In fact, he had lead 54 laps of the 77 total to earn him two bonus points in the championship.

He was cruising along to what many thought would be his eighth win of the season. Unfortunately, on lap 65, when he was coming up to lap traffic, a large pack in front of him were having a heavy duel that resulted in two cars tangling in turn three.

The ensuing debris field left Lloyd with nowhere to go, and a large piece of debris damaged Lloyd's right-front wing. Because there was concern that the piece may fall off of his car and endanger his competitors, Lloyd was forced to pit by the Indy Pro Series officials.

The decision turned out to be a good one as Lloyd would later admit that the possibility existed of him crashing into the wall himself as, even after making quick repairs to his front nose cone, his car was still not handling correctly.

For Justice, it was a quiet day. He managed to finish several positions ahead of his starting spot, but all day, conditions weren't quite right for him. He didn't quite have the tools necessary to move through the field as his teammate Gomez had been able to.

Still, after his disastrous weekend in Watkins Glen, the finish was a well-accepted one, and Justice expects to redeem himself in the next round of the championship.

Speaking of, after regrouping for a few days in Indianapolis, the team will be heading to Ohio on Thursday for the next event on the calendar with the inaugural Indy Racing League events at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.


#7 LUCAS OIL/Isilon Systems Driver Alex Lloyd
Started 1st, Finished 11th

Thoughts on crash: "I could see that bunch of guys really close together battling pretty hard. I just saw something, someone called yellow as I was going into three, and at that point, there was debris everywhere. You try and slow down and turn at the same time, but you've got to be very careful when you do that so you don't lose the back end. So I'm slowing down as much as I can. Entering the corner at 180, I just couldn't get it down, and there was a big piece of side pod in the middle of the track and just nowhere to go. Bits were covering the low line, the high line. There was just nothing we could do. We basically cleaned the track for everyone else and that was pretty much what we did. We cleared the debris field and everyone else got through fine. It was disappointing because we were close to having that race in the bag. We made the passes we needed to, and we had the quickest car at the end there. Sometimes, you're just at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Thoughts on deciding to come in late rather than stay out: "I don't think it would have made a difference either way. We would have gone to the back of the pack. For sure, we did the right thing. To be honest, I think we would have ended up in the wall if we stayed out. Even if we kept going we could have ended up in the wall and taken someone out with us. At the end of the day, we probably did the smart thing and came in, and the car still wasn't right when we went out. There was still something wrong. I think we lost six points in the championship so it wasn't a disaster. It's just a disappointing day. We should have been in victory lane and we weren't. And I didn't get that guitar..."

#23 Isilon System/FlaCondos.net Driver Logan Gomez
Started 9th, Finished 2nd

"It was unfortunate my teammate (Alex Lloyd) got caught up in some debris and had to make a pit stop to change the nose at the end. The team worked hard all weekend, and I'm glad I was able to show off their hard work and bring home a good finish. I think if there was one more lap we had something for the winner going into Turn 1. The car got really strong when I believe other teams' cars went away at the end. It was hard on that last restart. We were running through pit lane on the apron, we picked up quite a bit of rubber. I think the last restart was just whoever got the tires the cleanest before the green flag really had the jump on everybody. That's what got us two more positions at the end."

#38 LifeLock/LUCAS OIL Driver Ryan Justice
Started 13th, Finished 8th

"Well, there isn't much to say. We gained a couple of spots, but didn't really feel like I had anything for anybody in front of me. I'm just happy to have this one behind us, and I'm really forward to getting back on the road course at Mid-Ohio."

Fast Facts:

* Currently, after 11 races, Lloyd has 499 points in the season-long point standings with a 132-point lead on second-place Hideki Mutoh. For comparison, last year's Indy Pro Series champion, Jay Howard, scored a total of 390 points in 11 races. The series record of 513 points in a season was set in 2004 by Thiago Medeiros in 12 races driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

* For Gomez, his second-place finish was his first time on the podium this season. In contrast, Lloyd's 11th-place finish is his first time OFF the podium this season.

* This weekend, Logan Gomez was the youngest driver and only native Hoosier entered in the Sunbelt Rentals 100. Though Alex Lloyd and his wife, Sam, claim to be transplanted Hoosiers, their lack of a Hoosier accent does not yet make them eligible to be a "native" Hoosier.

-credit: ssm

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Alex Lloyd , Ryan Justice , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Jay Howard , Logan Gomez , Hideki Mutoh , Thiago Medeiros