Watkins Glen: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS ON THE ROAD AGAIN WITH RACE THIS WEEKEND IN WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, NY -- After racing on two consecutive ovals, Sam Schmidt Motorsports can turn right again this weekend with the sixth race of the season, the Corning...

SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS ON THE ROAD AGAIN WITH RACE THIS WEEKEND IN WATKINS GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, NY -- After racing on two consecutive ovals, Sam Schmidt Motorsports can turn right again this weekend with the sixth race of the season, the Corning 100 at Watkins Glen International.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports looks to return to victory lane at Watkins Glen. In five years, seven Firestone Indy Lights races have been held in Watkins Glen (two in 2007 and 2008). Sam Schmidt Motorsports visited victory lane in 2007 with Alex Lloyd and 2008 with Richard Antinucci. In 2009, the team didn't even place a car in the top-five. As if the most successful team in series history didn't enter every event with a high-level of motivation, there's an extra bit of kick in the team's step as they seek to get back into victory lane for 2010 at the historic circuit -- a circuit that Sam Schmidt himself has enjoyed much success on during his own racing career.

J.K. Vernay enters as points leader and looks to extend.

J.K. Vernay, from the start of the season, has led the Firestone Indy Lights points standings. His goal this weekend is to extend that lead, and the only certain way for him to do that is win. After winning the first two races of the season, he has been on the podium in two of the other three races, but this weekend, he's looking to return to the top-step. This type of circuit is similar to that in which he has run in Europe, and there's no question that when action starts, he will be a driver that everyone keeps their eyes on.

Pippa Mann looks to her experience and background to excel at the Glen.

With one race at Watkins Glen under her belt in a Firestone Indy Lights car, Pippa Mann enters this year's race with a lot of confidence. She knows the track well, and more importantly, it is a type of circuit that suits her style. Being a high-speed road course, the dynamics of the car are greatly increased in terms of mechanical grip and aerodynamics -- something that will aid Mann who relies heavily on the seat of her pants feel. As she has a better understanding of the car and is better able to feel what the car is doing, Mann enters this weekend confident that she can be competitive.

Philip Major looks to continue string of solid finishes.

A driver that may have been over-looked in the last few weeks has been Philip Major. After his first turn incident to start the season, he has rebounded well to post four consecutive top-ten finishes, including his best result of sixth in the last two events. Returning to a road course, Major is excited to get back to his racing roots and try to better his season-best and finally sneak into the top-five. He's a quiet young man in and out of the car, but the Canadian has shown a lot of maturity and educated himself well thus far. Another improvement for him this weekend can see him fighting with the top contenders for the podium.

James Winslow returns and should be one to watch.

Making a return to the seat this weekend is James Winslow and the #77 team. Winslow has been an aggressive driver and definitely one to watch on the track. He's made passes possible on tracks where passing is difficult. Pardon him for wanting to start a little higher up front to make his job easier, but regardless of where he starts, Winslow has shown he has a great handle on the Firestone Indy Lights machine and can move his way forward from wherever he grids. If the bad luck that's plagued him can take a back-seat, he can be a podium contender this weekend.

DRIVER NOTES & QUOTES

#7 LUCAS OIL/CJ Motorsport/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver J.K. Vernay

"Like every weekend, we're coming in to win. It's a track I don't know. I worked on the simulator a bit to learn the track. We'll see what happens. I'm sure the team will have a good setup. We have to be focused like we have been all year. We'll look to practice well and fine tune the setup on the car and also, for me, to just get to know the track better. Other than that, nothing special. I will try to do my best, and I know my crew and engineer will do the same. We are really focused on this race because we want to win. It's been a few races since we've won. I really want to come out on the top step of the podium."

#11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Pippa Mann

"Watkins Glen is one of my favorite circuits here in America, so I can't wait to go back there with the number 11 car this weekend. It's one of the closest circuits I have driven on in America that's similar to some of the really big flowing European road circuits back home. I like the fact that the corners are fast and flowing, and that the car really loads up around there. One of things I found hardest in adapting to the Firestone Indy Lights car is the fact that the car is so light that it doesn't really load up in the corners, making it difficult for me to feel how much grip I have available. Watkins is one of the few places where the car really starts to work underneath you and give you good feedback through the seat of your pants as to what's happening. Due to the fact I drive through "feel," this is a really important sensation to me, and at this track I can get that feel back. I think coming back this year, we're definitely aiming at being in the top-10, and hopefully, somewhere towards the top-five."

#49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Philip Major

"I'm excited about Watkins Glen. Not only because it's historic with lots of traditions, but I've never raced there. From what I've seen in the videos that I've watched of previous races, the place looks spectacular. I think it's going to suit me well. It's a type of road course that I like. It's high-speed and flowing with lots of turns. I've never driven there so it'll be a learning experience. I have to learn as much as I can in a short period of time. I'm looking forward to it. I know we won't have too much time, but I'm confident my engineer and I can get up to speed fairly quickly. The main thing is I'm looking forward to getting back onto a road course, turning right and left, braking, down-shifting, all those things you don't get to do on an oval. It'll be nice to do once again."

#77 FOCAL POINT/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Winslow

"When we get to Watkins Glen, I will not have been in a car, any car, for a solid three months. After breaking my ribs while karting awhile ago, I'm almost back to full strength now. It's been really tough sitting out the past two events. Even though these were oval events, and our program is focused on the road courses, it's still been tough to sit out. I'm hoping to put our top-three pace we showed at Long Beach and Barber Park into results. I'm looking to be on the podium, and it's a very realistic goal in my view."

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt

"I loved racing at the Glen as a driver and won several times. However, Sam Schmidt Motorsports has only two victories there, and we certainly need to change that. This is an all-American classic road course which I think our drivers will enjoy immensely. Hopefully, we can accomplish parallel results."

-source: ssm

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Richard Antinucci , Alex Lloyd , Pippa Mann , Phillip Major , James Winslow