Kentucky: RLR/Andersen Racing race notes

Romancini Finishes Tenth For RLR/Andersen Racing Saturday at Kentucky Speedway SPARTA, Ky., Aug. 1 - All three RLR/Andersen Racing Firestone Indy Lights cars emerged unscathed from Saturday's Kentucky 100 at Kentucky Speedway, which is a...

Romancini Finishes Tenth For RLR/Andersen Racing Saturday at Kentucky Speedway

SPARTA, Ky., Aug. 1 - All three RLR/Andersen Racing Firestone Indy Lights cars emerged unscathed from Saturday's Kentucky 100 at Kentucky Speedway, which is a blessing to their mechanics since they'll all be in action next week at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Mario Romancini recorded the best results for the team by finishing tenth, while his teammates, Ali Jackson and Pablo Donoso, finished 14th and 16th, respectively.

More than a day of practice time was lost due to weepers on the track surface, and the team only had 50 minutes of practice less than three hours before the race to come up with a good set-up.

Romancini started third but immediately vaulted into second when the polesitter and point leader, J.R. Hildebrand, had to retire when his car lost oil pressure. Romancini's No. 5, which is sponsored by Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America, was able to stay in second place behind Sebastian Saavedra's car for the first 10 laps, but then Romancini was passed by James Hinchcliffe on lap 11 and dropped to third. The driver from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who has thrilled fans with his high-flying moves on the outside in earlier oval-track races this year, tried his best but he was unable to find any grip on that part of the track Saturday. He remained in third place, and was just 0.4007 of a second behind Hinchcliffe until three cars running in a draft charged by him to push him to sixth on lap 15.

Daniel Herrington edged ahead of him on lap 17 to push him to seventh, and Andrew Prendeville passed him on the next lap to relegate him to eighth. He maintained that position until Mike Potekhen got by him on lap 24. Potekhen fell back two spots on lap 28 to give Romancini eighth back, but he was in ninth again at the halfway point of the 67-lap race after Martin Plowman passed him on lap 32. Plowman went on to finish in ninth, right ahead of Romancini, and Plowman set the fastest lap of the race on lap 11 when he turned the 1.5-mile trioval in 27.7277 seconds for an average speed of 192.154 miles per hour.

Romancini held ninth from lap 32 through lap 51, when Potekhen and Brandon Wagner edged ahead of him to push him to 11th. Romancini repassed Wagner on lap 54 for tenth, and remained in that spot until Wade Cunningham took the checkered flag ahead of Saavedra and Ana Beatriz under caution for the victory after 67 laps of competition.

Jackson, of Moyvalley, County Kildare, Ireland, started eighth and stayed in that position in the early going before slipping to 12th by lap nine. He then advanced one spot, and was running 11th to Donoso's 12th on lap 11. The pair switched positions on the next lap and ran that way until lap 14, when Jackson regained 11th and Richard Philippe muscled between Jackson and Donoso.

Jackson remained in 11th until lap 18 when Wagner edged ahead of him. He had dropped to 13th by lap 20 but he stayed in that spot until lap 62 when Rodrigo Barbosa pushed him to 14th. That's where he finished with his No. 9, which is sponsored by Moyvalley Golf and Hotel Resort and Allied Interior Products.

Donoso had the biggest challenge ahead of him at the beginning of the race since the native of Santiago, Chile started 19th and last. He had already moved to 12th by the end of lap one after Pippa Mann spun on the warm-up lap, Hildebrand pulled into the pits, Charlie Kimball and Gustavo Yacaman spun entering Turn 4 on the first lap, and Donoso passed Potekhen, Wagner and Barbosa.

He stayed in 12th place until he passed Jackson for 11th on lap 11. Struggling with an ill-handling car, he remained in that spot for two more laps before he started drifting backwards and brought the No. 6, which is sponsored by Andersen Racing, Allied Interior Products and Donoso LTDA, home unscathed in 16th position. He also won a $2,500 bonus from Firestone in a post-race draw among the drivers finishing outside of the top 10.

Jackson ran the fastest race lap of the Palmetto, Fla.-based team's three drivers when he was timed in 27.9789 seconds for an average speed of 190.429 mph on lap 10. Romancini wasn't far behind with a 28.002 (190.284 mph) on lap nine. Donoso's fastest lap was also lap 10, when he did a 28.2095 for an average speed of 188.873 mph.

The event was the 100th Firestone Indy Lights race sanctioned by the Indy Racing League.

The race will be broadcast on a taped-delayed basis on Monday at 4 p.m. Eastern time on VERSUS. That telecast will include a special feature on Romancini.

Hildebrand still leads the point standings, and now has 385 points to Saavedra's 343. Cunningham moves into third with the victory with 322 points. Romancini breaks a tie with Hinchcliffe for fourth, although both have 293 points.

Neither Donoso nor Jackson has run all the races. Donoso is 16th in the point standings and Jackson is 18th.

All of Andersen Racing's race cars have been sporting the logo of Best Friends Animal Society as a salute to that not-for-profit animal welfare group, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in July. The donated signage draws attention to Best Friends' quarter century of service to the welfare of abused, abandoned animals at its 3,700-acre sanctuary in southwestern Utah, and for its on-going work across the United States. Best Friends' No More Homeless Pets program includes national campaigns in key American cities to address the problems of saving pit bull dogs, speaking out against puppy mills, addressing the problem of cat overpopulation and striving that one day there will be no more homeless pets. More information on the organization can be obtained at bestfriends.org.

Driver post-race quotes:

Mario Romancini: "We thought we had a set-up that would work, but it didn't. After the pack went by me on lap 15, there was nothing I could do. I just couldn't pass anybody back.

"The track was bumpy and slippery too. There was no grip on the outside. I tried to run high and pass people, but there was just no grip up there.

"We just didn't have time to find a good set-up. Now I'm fourth in the championship.

"We've got to keep working hard. We have another race next weekend."

Ali Jackson: "The balance of the car wasn't too bad. I think all of us were just lacking speed today.

"I was happy to finish. This is my third oval race and the first one I finished, so I got some good experience today.

"The track was good considering all the rain we had.

"I didn't have any close calls, except when I was on cold tires....and drafting at 190 miles per hour. I was running on my own for a lot of the race though."

Pablo Donoso: "I'm very disappointed. I think we missed the set-up, but I also think there's something else we're missing. The track was the same for everybody, so it wasn't that. We'll have to go over the data and try to figure out what we're missing, and try to do better at Mid-Ohio."

-credit: rlr/ar

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Charlie Kimball , Andrew Prendeville , Pablo Donoso , Pippa Mann , Wade Cunningham , Daniel Herrington , Richard Philippe , James Hinchcliffe , Sebastian Saavedra , Mike Potekhen , Martin Plowman , J.R. Hildebrand , Ana Beatriz , Mario Romancini , Rodrigo Barbosa , Gustavo Yacaman