Mid-Ohio: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

LEXINGTON, Ohio- Sam Schmidt Motorsports is back in action this weekend with the ninth race of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship taking place at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Practice beings on Friday with a 45-minute session at 3 p.m.

LEXINGTON, Ohio- Sam Schmidt Motorsports is back in action this weekend with the ninth race of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship taking place at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Practice beings on Friday with a 45-minute session at 3 p.m. A second 45-minute practice will take place on Saturday at 8 a.m. Qualifying will be later that morning at 11:35. A final warm-up session will be on Sunday at 8:35 a.m. before the race itself at 12:30 p.m. The Mid-Ohio 100 and all other on track sessions can be seen live on indycar.com or firestoneindylights.com. All times listed are in ET.

J.K. Vernay and Philip Major look to use testing experience to their advantage.

Throughout the 2010 season, J.K. Vernay and Philip Major have had a lot of success of tracks they've never seen before. As rookie contenders, this has been an impressive feat. This weekend, they'll enter the event with the advantage of luxury of having tested before at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Granted, almost everyone in the field has taken part in some sort of testing at the track prior to the weekend as it's a convenient site near Indianapolis, but the drivers and team feel that they can focus on outright speed right out of the box rather than having to spend time learning the circuit. In prior races this year, several laps would have to be spent just familiarizing the drivers with the track. As that won't be the case this weekend, from the get go, Vernay can give a strong assault on the title chase while Major has his best shot yet of securing his first top-five or even a podium finish this weekend.

James Winslow returns to the cockpit in Mid-Ohio.

One of the more exciting drivers of the 2010 season, James Winslow, returns to action this weekend in Mid-Ohio. Though he's been plagued at times by poor racing luck in his limited starts this year, he's used those opportunities to shine on the track. It's not been uncommon to find Winslow having to start a race near the rear of the field only to have him charge towards the front once the green flag falls on race day. In fact, his best finish of fifth was accomplished after having to start 14th in Watkins Glen, earning him the Force for Earth Hard Charger Award. Winslow's goal this weekend, and all year really, is to have a normal practice and qualifying so that he can qualify towards the front half of the grid, making things a bit easier as he looks to find his way towards the front when the checkered flag falls on Sunday.

Pippa Mann to sit out event to let hand heal properly.

One Sam Schmidt Motorsports regular that won't be competing this weekend is Pippa Mann. She has driven in the last two events with a broken left hand, and after the event in Edmonton, Mann had surgery done in Indianapolis to repair the damage to her hand. Though she's begun physical therapy to get the hand healed enough to drive competitively, she and the team decided it'd be best to sit out this weekend to let the hand heal properly and not risk making things worse for the final four races following Mid-Ohio. Mann will still be at the track this weekend supporting the team, and she'll also serve as a driver analyst during the race on indycar.com's live streaming feed.

No. 7 LUCAS OIL/CJ Motorsport/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay

"Starting the weekend, the goal obviously is to win. The team had a good car here for James (Hinchcliffe) last year finishing second. So we know the car will be good. We just need to work on the setup to customize it to my driving. We had a test day about a month ago at the track. It was decent and we learned a lot. I'm really confident that we can win. Looking at the big picture, for the championship, the pressure is not on our shoulders. We just need to keep doing what we've been doing and let things fall as they will."

No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

"I'm looking forward to this weekend. I'm excited to be on another classic road course like Mid-Ohio. We got to test there before which is definitely a bonus. I know my way around. I think this weekend, we're going to try a few new things which is good. As long as we stick to our plan, and everything goes according to it, we should have a good weekend. We can definitely see some improvements and pick up where we faltered in the last few races. I'm excited to get the weekend started."

No. 77 FOCAL POINT/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Winslow

"We're definitely aiming for a podium this weekend. We've been quick at Long Beach and Toronto. We've proved that we've got the pace. We've made a few changes around in the team, so hopefully we can take advantage of that. I think we're going to have a good weekend. Mid-Ohio looks like a fantastic circuit so I'm looking forward to getting on the track. I'm hoping to stay in the top-five all weekend and get on the podium on Sunday. We just need to not have any bad luck, any problems, anything breaking on the car. We need to get the setup sorted as quick as possible so I can focus on driving and getting my head down and trying to get my first podium this weekend. I definitely think it's feasible. A good result here could help us out for the rest of the season and get me out again for future races and help build a solid full program for next year. Definitely aiming for a good result."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt

"J.K. and Philip had the opportunity to test at Mid-Ohio in June, so we're hoping for good results out of them. At least this circuit will not be totally foreign to those guys as most of the tracks have been this year. We won the event there in 2008, and we're looking to get back to the top of the podium. It's good to have James back in the car for this event, but we will certainly miss having Pippa on the track, but we all decided that sitting out this one race was the best strategy to allow for her hand to properly heal and get her ready for the final four race push following this event."

-source: ssm

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Pippa Mann , Phillip Major , James Winslow