RICHARD ANTINUCCI's STAR SHINES EARLY ON BUT BURNS OUT TOO QUICKLY AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY The Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver leads 14 laps but takes the chequered flag 13th losing grip on Firestone Indy Lights points lead by three points to race ...
RICHARD ANTINUCCI's STAR SHINES EARLY ON BUT BURNS OUT TOO QUICKLY AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY
The Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver leads 14 laps but takes the chequered flag 13th losing grip on Firestone Indy Lights points lead by three points to race winner JR Hildebrand.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The fourth round of the Firestone Indy Lights series ended Richard Antinucci's remarkable streak of podium finishes. In his previous six starts the San Diego-based drivers had posted either wins or runner-up finishes, and Richard was poised to keep the streak alive today. Actually it looked as though the streak would continue, as during the 10 opening laps the #7 Lucas Oil Dallara exchanged the lead with former points standings leader Dillon Battistini six times. However, JR Hildebrand soon moved past the British driver and on Lap 21 he squeezed by Richard at the finish line to claim the lead. He was soon joined by Battistini and Arie Luyendyk Jr who temporarily rounded up the podium spots, with Richard close on their heels in 4th place. From Lap 26 to Lap 49 three full-course caution periods allowed the 24-car field just three laps under green, but the yellow and the brisk day were not enough to save the front tyres of Antinucci, who was forced to focus on bringing back his car in one piece and with the best possible haul of points. Another late caution due to a tangle between St. Petersburg winner Rapahel Matos and Jeff Simmons on Lap 56 didn't do much to help the #7 Lucas Oil Dallara, whilst rookie Hildebrand went on to win by 0.0553 from Robbie Pecorari.
Today's score means that the RLR/Andersen driver topples Antinucci from first place in the points standings by three points (142 to 139), whilst Battistini (4th at Kansas Speedway) has a 17-point gap from the Italian-American. The latter, in spite of the nice show put on in the early stages was not delighted with the 17 points scored : "Unfortunately this is not an happy time for my family, as ago my uncle Steve passed away today after a long bout with cancer. I really looked forward to a nice result here, but now I am just willing to say that I can't wait to get back to the winners' circle to dedicate a win to him. Here we've not been on the pace long enough. After 6-7 laps the car started to push and soon I found myself losing more and more grip from the front tyres. The change in balance compared to the morning warm-up was disappointing, where we had a set-up close to what we used in the race and a fair load of fuel. The car was fine and I was quite confident of a strong afternoon. We did not expect this to happen on such a brisk day. I am not saying I had a perfect day, as I realized here and there that in some situations I still lack oval experience. Perhaps I could have picked some better spots in traffic. But over all when the car is as tight as it was in the end and you want to stay clear of the wall there's a very limited amount of options you have. Ana Beatriz, who had a car set-up very similar to my own's, reported nearly the same feeling today. I am keen to improve both as a person and as a racing driver constantly throughout life, so I will take a hard look at my weekend here, and I am sure that at the shop the crew will start to look in depth at the car and the data to get to back to where Sam Schmidt Motorsports belongs in time for the home race."