Kansas: RLR/Andersen Racing race notes

Romancini Gets on the Podium and Summerton Takes Points Lead For RLR/Andersen Racing Sunday at Kansas Speedway KANSAS CITY, Kan., April 26 - RLR/Andersen Racing's Mario Romancini posted his first podium finish in Firestone Indy Lights...

Romancini Gets on the Podium and Summerton Takes Points Lead For RLR/Andersen Racing Sunday at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kan., April 26 - RLR/Andersen Racing's Mario Romancini posted his first podium finish in Firestone Indy Lights competition while his teammate, Jonathan Summerton, took the lead in the point standings Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

Romancini, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, started sixth and finished third for the Palmetto, Fla.-based team after nail-biting duels with both fourth-place finisher Ana Beatriz and the runner-up, polesitter Wade Cunningham.

It was quite the all-American weekend for Romancini, who drives the No. 5 sponsored by Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America. He saw his first professional baseball game as a guest of one of his team's sponsors, Allied Interior Products, on Friday night. (The Kansas City Royals beat the visiting Detroit Tigers 6-1 at Kauffman Stadium.) Then on Sunday morning he not only competed in his first oval-race ever, but he also got his first podium finish in the series when he took the checkered behind Sebastian Saavedra and Cunningham after the 67-lap/100-mile Kansas Lottery 100 on Kansas Speedway's 1.52-mile oval.

Even though he's an all-American driver from Kissimmee, Fla., Summerton was making his first oval-track start just like Romancini. He was a quick learner too, as he started 15th and moved up eight spots to finish seventh in the No. 9 sponsored by Mockett & Co., a national manufacturer of fine cabinet hardware and other items for the building, custom cabinet and furniture industries, as well as Allied Interior Supply.

Summerton now tops the point standings, leading Junior Strous by four points going into the biggest race of the year, the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 22. With his third-place finish, Romancini jumped from 14th to eighth in the point standings.

Half of Sunday's race was run under five caution-flag periods for four multi-car accidents and one spin, all of which occurred in Turn 4. Twenty mile per hour winds that increased in speed substantially in Turns 3 and 4 played a major factor in the race, but no rain fell during it. Officials advanced the race's starting time from noon to 10 a.m. local time due to a weather forecast that warned of severe thunderstorms. The track was green for the race too due to a heavy rain Saturday night.

Romancini got fifth right off the bat, but then dropped back to sixth when James Davison passed him on a restart on lap 10. He regained fifth on the next lap, and then took fourth on lap 11 by passing Beatriz. He passed J.R. Hildebrand for third on lap 14 right before a yellow waved for a big crash in Turn 4 involving Sergey Mokshantsev, Rodrigo Barbosa and Ali Jackson. He had the second-fastest race lap at that point during his battle with Beatriz.

When the green waved again on lap 24 Romancini got right to work on Cunningham. The latter protected the inside quite well so Romancini looked to the outside, providing some exciting moments. He also re-set the second-fastest lap of the race on lap 26 in 29.2841 seconds for an average of 186.859 mph.

Beatriz wasn't giving up either, which set up a dramatic Lap 28 as Saavedra and Cunningham were side-by-side as were Romancini and Beatriz right behind them as they crossed the start-finish line under a blanket. They were all able to catch their breath the next time by, however, after Gustavo Yacaman brought out another yellow by spinning in Turn 4.

Beatriz passed Romancini for third on lap 32 right before another yellow waved on lap 34 for more contact in Turn 4. The restart on lap 40 was another heart-stopper, as Beatriz passed Cunningham for second while Romancini tried the low side to pass them both. It didn't work that time, but he kept trying even after he scared himself and everyone watching him when he got loose but miraculously saved it on lap 44 between Turns 3 and 4.

It didn't slow him down at all, however, and he was involved with a huge fight with Cunningham for third place around lap 49. On lap 50 Cunningham and Romancini both got by Beatriz, which put Romancini in third. The best battle on the track around lap 52 was Romancini running on the outside of Cunningham battling for second, which they did for six more laps before a final yellow waved on lap 59 for contact in Turn 4 between Pippa Mann and Dillon Battistini.

The race ended under that caution. Despite the wild wrecks, Battistini was the only driver transported to a local hospital.

Summerton made in-cockpit adjustments to alleviate a loose condition his car had initially, and then he did the best he could to advance when the track was green. He moved from 15th to 13th on the first lap, had a battle with Andrew Prendeville around lap 11, and dropped back to 15th on lap 12. He was 14th on lap 30, 13th on lap 31, 12th on lap 33, 11th on lap 41, tenth on lap 43 and ninth on lap 45. He got eighth on lap 46 when J.R. Hildebrand fell back due to a cut tire. He advanced one more spot on lap 52 by passing Davison, and that's where he finished.

Summerton's fastest race lap was lap 43, which he did in 29.5871 seconds for an average speed of 184.948 mph.

VERSUS will air its coverage of the race at 4 p.m. Eastern on Monday.

Mario Romancini: "Running the high line was really difficult, because there wasn't much grip. This is my first oval-track race ever; all I've done before on an oval was testing, so to get third was very good. Last week I had a problem with the gearbox and couldn't finish the race, so I'm glad that we were able to get points today and improve our position in the championship.

"I'm very happy with my first oval race. Every lap I'm still learning. Once I got loose between Turns 3 and 4 and I thought I was done, but I was able to save it.

"I'm very happy with the car and with RLR/Andersen Racing; they did a fantastic job. I also want to thank my sponsors: Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America.

"Now it's on to Indy.  I'm really looking forward to that. I watched the
Indy 500 every year since I was about 7 or 8.  It's a huge deal for me to be
able to run there since it's so historic.  I'm excited to go there.

"Indy is much bigger than Homestead, where we tested, or Kansas, but I think we should have a competitive car there. It's the most important race of the season, and I'm looking forward to it."

Jonathan Summerton: "I thought my first oval track race was great! I want to thank Doug Mockett and everyone at Mockett & Co. for helping to make it happen.

"I think if the track had stayed green, we could have won. Our car was better in longer runs, but unfortunately we didn't have too many of them. But when we were running, we were catching the leaders every lap. We definitely had a car that could have won the race.

"I won a Formula BMW race on the road course at Indy in 2004 when I was 16, becoming the youngest race winner there, but when we test on the oval there [on May 5] and then run the Freedom 100 there [on May 22], it will be my first time on the oval. For me, it's a great chance to be on the same track that the Indy 500 is run on."

John Andersen (team co-owner): "It was a great day for RLR/Andersen Racing. We had two kids who never drove on an oval before, but both had outstanding runs.

"Mario drove a great race, and got his first podium.  We're real happy for
him.  He did an outstanding job.

"At the beginning of the race Jonathan's car was loose, but we adjusted it and towards the end he was as fast as the leaders. If there weren't so many yellows he would have been right there at the end too. As it was he took the points lead. We're really happy."

-credit: rlr/ar

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Andrew Prendeville , Pippa Mann , Wade Cunningham , James Davison , Junior Strous , Sebastian Saavedra , Doug Mockett , Jonathan Summerton , J.R. Hildebrand , Ana Beatriz , Mario Romancini , Sergey Mokshantsev , Rodrigo Barbosa , Gustavo Yacaman