Schmidt Drivers Enjoying the Glen Series Regulars Qualify in Top 10, DeSimone is 12th WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Heading into the historic return of IndyCar racing to Watkins Glen International, Sam Schmidt wanted his rookie drivers to enjoy The...
Schmidt Drivers Enjoying the Glen
Series Regulars Qualify in Top 10, DeSimone is 12th
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Heading into the historic return of IndyCar racing to Watkins Glen International, Sam Schmidt wanted his rookie drivers to enjoy The Glen Experience as he has many times, all the while staying focused on the championship points battle. Schmidt's regulars Jaime Camara, Chris Festa and Travis Gregg qualified in the top 10, while Rocco DeSimone, joining Sam Schmidt Motorsports for this weekend, qualified 12th. Gregg and Camara are in the battle for the series title heading into the Corning 100.
Camara, 24, a Brazilian native living in Miami, set a high mark early in qualifying, enjoying the pole position for a while before his lap time of 1:41.5943 (119.416 MPH) eventually put the #1 CELG Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry fourth on the starting grid. Festa took the eighth position in the #19 SpacePak/CareCentric Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry with a lap time of 1:42.8624 (117.944 MPH). Gregg, put the #7 Lucas Oil Special Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry 20th on the grid with a time of 1:46.9541 (113.432 MPH), while Rhode Island's Rocco DeSimone put the #11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry 12th on the grid with a lap time of 1:52.1316 (108.194 MPH).
Points leader Wade Cunningham will start on the pole Sunday.
Gregg, of Camden, Ohio, enters the Corning 100 second in points. He is enjoying the circuit at Watkins Glen International, even radioing his crew to tell them how much fun the track is.
"Friday we were quicker and we lost a lot of speed, I don't know how, so it really wasn't too fun (Saturday) morning - we went backwards. We've got to finish Sunday, hopefully we can finish the way we've been finishing on the road courses, and I've got to hope that Wade doesn't win. If he does, it'll be bad (for our points chances). The car and the track were a lot more fun Friday than (Saturday)," Gregg said.
Jaime Camara, fifth in points heading into the Corning 100, he is the last of five drivers still eligible for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series points championship.
"My run, it was alright. We had a problem (in practice) that caused us to not have new tires to make a run in practice. That kind of hurt us because this was my only run with new tires, I didn't know what to expect," Camara said. "It was a good run, the car is good, we're good. We're going to change small details on the car for the race. I think the car is constant for the race and we are just going to be there for the end."
Festa, the 19-year-old driver fresh from his classes at Florida State University, is sixth in the championship points race.
"As far as qualifying, I messed up turn one pretty bad which cost us about a second. I take full responsibility for that," Festa said. "Other than that, we have made the car a lot better throughout the weekend. We still need to get it better than what it is, but we've made some real strides with it. We just need to go out (Sunda) morning in the warmup and see what we have (for the race)."
DeSimone, of Rhode Island, has been among the fastest this weekend. He looked good in qualifying before he spun coming out of the bus stop around turn seven.
"The lap was going really great up until I did a half-spin after the bus stop on the hairpin going back, the loop," DeSimone said. "I just turned in good, got in the gas too early and got the rear end of the car around. I fought it halfway through but couldn't save it. I ruined the lap. I'm not sure where I'll finish (Sunday) but the car's pretty good. There will be a lot of cars to pass and race with, for sure. It should've been a top five car, but we'll see what happens."
Owner Sam Schmidt is hoping for a smooth race on Sunday for his four rookies.
"All in all, I think we qualified about where we expected we would, and now we need to just get out there and race," said Schmidt. "I think it's great Jaime picked up a lot in qualifying. I know Chris wanted a better lap and he's pretty frustrated about his bobble in turn one and Rocco is pretty upset about throwing his lap away in turn seven. The guys are all enjoying the track, which is nice. We're just ready to race to see if we can leave here with either Travis or Jaime still in the points race."
Sunday's 20-lap race begins at 1:10 p.m. (EDT), and will be televised on a tape-delayed basis at 3 p.m. (EDT), on Thursday, September 29th on ESPN2.