Long Beach: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS RACES ON TO WEST COAST FOR LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX LONG BEACH, Calif. - The third race of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season takes place this weekend at the famed downtown street circuit in Long Beach, California.


LONG BEACH, Calif. - The third race of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season takes place this weekend at the famed downtown street circuit in Long Beach, California. Practice beings on Friday with a single 60-minute session beginning at 12:15 p.m. A second practice takes place on Saturday morning at eight, with qualifying that afternoon at 12:55. The race itself takes place on Sunday at 10:40 a.m.. All times listed are in PT, and all sessions can be viewed live on indycar.com or firestoneindylights.com.

Long Beach still a new venue for Firestone Indy Lights but not for Sam Schmidt. Though this is only the second Firestone Indy Lights race on the street circuit at Long Beach, veterans and fans of open-wheel racing know that this is one of the premiere open-wheel events in North America. Team owner Sam Schmidt himself spent many years of his childhood visiting the event hoping to someday race there. Though he never got the chance, he would love nothing more than to be able to wheel himself to victory lane at a track that is a homecoming of sorts for Schmidt.

J.K. Vernay seeks to be first to win first three races in a row. No driver in the modern era of Firestone Indy Lights has won their first three races in a row. Having won his first two, Veray has a shot at history this weekend. He has a very good chance to achieve that feat as he has been quick at every track he's run, and he's running with a team that finished on the podium at this event in 2009. All the drivers will be chasing Vernay this weekend while he chases history.

Pippa Mann and Philip Major look to continue marching forward on the grid. With Pippa Mann and Philip Major celebrating personal victories after their finishes at Barber Park, both look to enter this weekend taking another step forward in their results column. Mann overcame a physical illness to record her first finish of the year in Barber Park, while Major overcame a first lap mishap in St. Pete to put on a strong performance in the second round. Both drivers know they have areas to improve and look to show those improvements in this weekend's race.


#7 LUCAS SLICK MIST/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay

Won first two races of 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season. Making third Firestone Indy Lights start. In 2009, competed in Formula 3, highlighted by two wins, and a track record at the Macau street circuit.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of getting back onto a street circuit. We have a lot of momentum behind us right now. I think it's important for us to continue trying to score victories, but most importantly, getting the best result possible. We have a great chance for a another victory this weekend, so we'll do the best we can to achieve that accomplishment on one of American's most famed street circuits."

#11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

In her sophomore season of Firestone Indy Lights competition. In 2009, had three top-10s with best finish of eighth (Homestead). A member of the 2010 Indy Racing League Pace Car Team.

"This is a very tough circuit to master, as last year showed that experience was the key. I think the entire top-five had previous experience on the circuit in other series. Hopefully coming into the event this year having a year under my belt and getting into the swing of things with my team, we can come out with a good result. We've been making steady improvements, and I have no doubt that we'll continue to do this same this weekend. This circuit has a lot of history in American open-wheel racing, and I'm excited to take part."

#49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

Coming off first top-10 result at Barber Park. Second Firestone Indy Lights start. In 2009, made 12 starts in British Formula 3 with Carlin Motorsport with best finish of 10th at Spa.

"I'm really looking forward to this race with all the heritage that it has. I've never raced at Long Beach so one of the challenges of the weekend is just learning the track as quickly as I can. We'll definitely be looking to improve on our finish at Barber, and I think we've got a good chance of doing that. I'm just confident that we'll be able to come away with a good result, and I'm looking forward to racing on another fabulous street course."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt

"I would love nothing more than a victory at the Long Beach Grand Prix this weekend. Next to the Freedom 100 and winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this race would be a major highlight since I attended 10 Long Beach Grand Prix events as a kid with my parents and grew up in the LA area. It is also a major goal of the SSM team to get all of our cars in the top-10, so we are all jointly focused on making that happen."

-source: ssm

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Pippa Mann , Phillip Major
Teams Carlin