Only two drivers have the mathematical possibility of winning the coveted Firestone Firehawk Cup by notching the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights championship, and, neither one will be starting Saturday’s race on the front row. Thus Tristan Vautier maintains an 11-point advantage over Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Esteban Guerrieri heading into the 50-lap race on Saturday.
Instead, Columbian teammates Sebastian Saavedra (#27 Team AFS entered by AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport) and Carlos Munoz (#26 Team Dialy-Ser for Andretti Autosport) will start in positions one and two respectively in the Firestone Indy Lights 100 thanks to a last minute vault to the front by Saavedra with an average lap time of 189.64 miles per hour. Munoz lost the pole by a mere 0.263of a second.
In addition, the pole sitter plans to drive 600 miles tomorrow as he is driving in two races. Saavedra will have limited time after the 100 mile Indy Lights race before preparing for the IZOD IndyCar 500 mile season finale.
Saavedra said that “the heat is no problem for me because I have to concentrate on the two different cars. I’m very excited to put the #27 car up there and the complete support that the Andretti crew has given us has been amazing”.
Munoz admitted, “I’m a little sad because I was first all the session and then my teammate just got the pole position.”
Of the two title contenders, Frenchman Vautier (#77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM with Curb/Agajanian goes into Saturday’s final race with 429 points, and Argentine driver Guerrieri (#11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM with Curb/Agajanian) has 418. Guerrieri will start third and Vautier nearly mid-pack in P5.
“One extra point would have been great," Guerrieri said. "Now that we’ve qualified and we know the final points, we can look at the race. I know I just need to win the race and lead the most laps. That’s the plan.”
There were 14 announced entries but the #9 car driven by Peter Dempsey did not qualify. The race starts at 3:00 PM Pacific time. If you want to watch it live, go to IndyCar timing and scoring as it will not air until September 20 at 4 PM Eastern time.
Byline: Lisa May Davidson