Sonoma: Sam Schmidt Motorsports race notes

ANA BEATRIZ LEADS SAM SCHMIDT IN INFINEON RACE; HINCHCLIFFE GAINS GROUND IN ROOKIE STANDINGS SONOMA, Calif. -- Ana Beatriz led the way for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in Sunday's Firestone Indy Lights race at the Infineon Raceway, bringing her car...


SONOMA, Calif. -- Ana Beatriz led the way for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in Sunday's Firestone Indy Lights race at the Infineon Raceway, bringing her car home with a fifth-place result. Her teammates, James Hinchcliffe, Wade Cunningham, and Gustavo Yacaman, finished sixth, 12th, and 19th, respectively.

The top-five was Beatriz's sixth in 12 starts this season.

The race started off on a positive note for the Sam Schmidt quartet as every driver from third on back was moved up the starting grid one spot due to Sebastian Saavedra having to go to the rear after an engine issue. Thus, Beatriz found herself on the front row for the first time in 2009.

As the race began, lots of dicing took place throughout the field. The event didn't last long for Yacaman, however, as contact with him and Daniel Herrington in the final hairpin on Lap 1 sent Yacaman airborne into the outside retaining wall and out of the race.

When racing resumed, Cunningham was moving up through the field. Starting from 12th, he was ninth on the Lap 8 restart. He had one of the fastest cars on the track, as evidenced by his fastest race lap being fifth among the best of competitors. Unfortunately, one of those competitors, Saavedra, didn't use his speed to pass Cunningham. Rather, he used his car's nose to punt Cunningham into a spin heading into the final hairpin on Lap 25. The move cost Cunningham four spots, and though he was able to regain one to move into 12th, the final result was costly for Cunningham in the championship.

The races for both Beatriz and Hinchcliffe were a bit quieter. Hinchcliffe found himself behind Beatriz after the start, and as difficult as passing was on the circuit, neither driver was able to move forward. In fact, at one point, Hinchcliffe made a passing attempt heading into Turn 7 on Beatriz, but couldn't complete the move as they raced side-by-side through the turn and ensuing esses. That duel cost them both some time, and would eventually cost them both a position. With opportunities limited, the duo were forced to settle for fifth and sixth.

On the bright side for Hinchcliffe was the fact that he moved up into fourth in the points standings, although it was at the expense of teammate Cunningham and his poor luck. Hinchcliffe also gained ground on Saavedra in the Rookie of the Year standings, narrowing the deficit to just 22 points with two races to go.

From here, it will be a quick turn around for the drivers and crews as the next race takes place this weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway.

#7 Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Hinchcliffe

"Today was for sure a frustrating day. We had a faster car than sixth place, but we just kept getting in the wrong place at the wrong time and it cost us. Right off the start, Bia didn't get a good getaway and it held up the whole right line, so Davison was able to get by. I was then behind Bia, and you could see she was struggling a bit, but I just couldn't get by. I had one chance at Turn 7, but as I went down the inside my rear wheels locked and I couldn't get second gear and she was able to get back by. I lost momentum and Philippe was able to go through as well. I feel like I didn't get the best out of myself today, but sometimes that happens! We will keep our heads down. We still made up a place in the championship, which is good, and we'll focus on two really strong races to end the season."

#11 LUCAS OIL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Wade Cunningham

"I can't even begin to describe the disappointment and frustration I'm feeling after the race. Obviously, the race results hurt our chances of catching up to second in the championship, and what's more frustrating is that the person that we're chasing is the one that sent me spinning in the hairpin. I'm not sure what he was doing, but it was completely uncalled for. We had a fast car, as the times will show, and we were on our way to a solid result and gaining ground in the points We've got two strong races coming up for us. We have quite the challenge ahead to pass Saavedra for second in the championship now, but given the circumstances today, if we can make it happen, it will be all the more satisfying."

#20 HEALTHY CHOICE/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Ana Beatriz

"It was a difficult race for the Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt team. I couldn't be as aggressive as I wanted to in driving the car. Throughout the race, I kept experience the rear brakes locking up, and it made it difficult to be in close battles. On the one hand, I'm happy for the team to get another top-five, but I know we could have been fighting for the podium so it's a bit frustrating. We'll get the car ready for Chicago and hope to have a good race there."

#44 CREPES & WAFFLES/TUVACOL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Gustavo Yacaman

"I'm in disbelief as to what happened. Obviously, finishing the race before even completing the first lap was not something we had planned for. It's a disappointing result and overall, just a disappointing weekend."

Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation

On Thursday afternoon, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, in conjunction with Shoot For a Cure, hosted nearly 150 competitors in its "Walk, Run, and Wheelathon," at the Infineon Raceway. This was the second event of this type this season, with the first being in Toronto. Participants were able to race on a modified version of the course used by the IndyCar Series. Funds raised will go towards funding paralysis research, helping the almost six million people in the United States who have some form of paralysis.

On Saturday, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation hosted a "Day at the Races" at the Sam Schmidt Motorsports area in the Firestone Indy Lights paddock. Nearly 30 guests, comprising mainly of people from the local VA hospitals, met with the team's drivers, enjoyed lunch, a program with Sam Schmidt and the foundation's CEO and President, Ida Cahill, and a day of racing at the Infineon Raceway.

-credit: ssm

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Wade Cunningham , James Hinchcliffe , Sebastian Saavedra , Ana Beatriz , Gustavo Yacaman