Indy Lights – A Follow-the-Leader Affair at MKE
While the Firestone Indy Lights cars and drivers put on a fantastic show at some venues with some outstanding racing action, that doesn’t seem to carry over to the Milwaukee Mile. Historically, there has been very little action at the world’s oldest racing circuit, and this year’s Firestone Indy Lights 100 at the Milwaukee IndyFest with practice, qualifying, and the race all held on single day, this past Friday, was no exception. The race was by and large a follow-the-leader affair with Sam Schmidt Motorsport with Curb-Agajanian’s driver of their #77 Mazda Road to Indy machine Tristan Vautier leading all 100 laps from pole.
“We put the car on the ground this morning and it felt amazing after two runs we got it tuned, and we were great all day. It was a great race, we were in control. The end was a little harder with the lapped traffic, the lapped traffic to manage, but awesome day, awesome job from the team. I see my teammate Esteban made it back to the podium so great job from him from sixth and a tough day, so we have two cars on the podium. I think it’s the 50th with for Schmidt. I didn’t get the 50th pole, I was kind of pissed that my pole this morning was the 51st, but real happy to get the 50th win. What an awesome team. Really thankful to Mazda for putting me in the car this year and the Mazda Road to Indy, Sparco, PitFit, all my sponsors who follows me in France and here and helps me out. Really a great day.” –Tristan Vautier, #77 Sam Schmidt Motorsport with Curb-Agajanian
P1 and P2 remained unchanged from the start after Sebastian Saavedra claimed the second-place spot from Tristan’s teammate, Victor Carbone. The only yellows in the race were both caused by Belardi Auto Racing’s Mike Larrison in the #19 Royal Purple-sponsored car. Larrison spun and collapsed his rear wing in practice earlier in the day, and had to borrow a wing from teammate Alon Day’s #9 machine and used red duct tape to change the numbering to a #19. On Lap 14, Larrison slid sideways through almost the entire length of Turn 4. He would eventually lose the car in that same turn on Lap 42 mercifully ending a tough day for the USAC driver. “I don’t know. We changed the setup before we went out. We were really struggling getting into the corner,” said Larrison after his mandatory visit to the infield care center.
The two real movers of the race were #11 Esteban Guerrieri for Sam Schmidt Motorsports and #22 David Ostella for Team Moore Racing who started P6 and P7, respectively. Both drivers took good care of their tires through the bulk of the race and were in prime position to overtake those who had used up their grip earlier in the race. The two Indy Lights veterans moved forward to finish P3 (Guerrieri) and P4 (Ostella). This was David Ostella’s best finish in the Firestone Indy Lights series, and Guerrieri’s podium finish is exactly what he needed to maintain contact with his championship competitors Vautier and Saavedra.
The trio of Vautier, Guerrieri, and Saavedra continue to pull away from the rest of the field in the championship as they scramble themselves for the Firestone Cup. They head to the Iowa Speedway this coming weekend with Vautier leading the championship with 241 points followed by Guerrieri with 238 points. Saavedra sits in third place in the championship with 227 points. The three are close enough to each other that they can still leap-frog each other every race.
2012 Firestone Indy Lights at Milwaukee Highlights
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