IndyCar – Indy Lights Freedom 100

Freedom 100 Starting Grid
Freedom 100 Starting Grid
If you have friends and family that just cannot understand why you love open-wheel racing, the 2009 Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the race you need to show them! What a spectacular race it was! Today was Carburetion Day, the last day of practice for the IndyCar Series before the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Since 2005, Carburetion Day has also been the day for the Firestone Indy Lights race. This race, as with most of the Indy Lights races, has typically featured quality racing, but this year’s was a treat. For the entire 40 laps, excepting a few laps under yellow, it was a four-car dog fight for the lead.

Saavedra and Cunningham fighting for the lead.
Saavedra and Cunningham fighting for the lead.
Wade Cunningham, winner of this event in 2006, won the pole during Thursday’s qualifying session, followed closely by Sebastian Saavedra, winner of the previous race this year at the Kansas Speedway. On the start, Ana “Bia” Beatriz, J.R. Hildebrand, and Jay Howard immediately joined in the fray, battling for position. The biggest mover of the race was Mario Romancini who moved from his starting position of 18th to 10th on the first lap, 8th on lap 2, 6th on lap 3, and eventually worked his way up to 2nd and battled Hildebrand for the lead for the better part of the last half of the race before finishing 3rd. There were nine lead changes over the 40-lap event between three drivers, Cunningham, Hildebrand, and Saavedra. With four laps to go, Saavedra made an attempt to pass his teammate Hildebrand for the lead, failed and fell back to fourth before eventually finishing fifth right behind Jay Howard.

Four-Way battle down the front stretch.
Four-Way battle down the front stretch.
As exciting and action-packed as the race was, it did have its downtimes. There were four cautions, two for incidents in the South Chute between Turns 1 and 2, one for debris in Turn 4, and one in the North Chute. On lap 7, Pippa Maan was collected by her spinning teammate, Martin Plowman, as he lost control exiting Turn 1. On lap 16, Ana Beatriz suffered a similar fate in the same section of the track to bring out the second yellow. There was a brief caution for debris in Turn 4 and one more for contact and a spin in the North Chute. In the end, it was Wade Cunningham earning his 2nd victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, edging out J.R. Hildebrand by reclaiming the lead on Lap 38. Romancini held on to claim the last podium position, and Jay Howard improved to fourth, moving Saavedra to fifth. For an admission price of $5, today’s racing was the best buy in motorsports bar none!

Freedom 100 Finish:

1 Wade Cunningham (11)
2 JR Hildebrand (26)
3 Mario Romancini (5)
4 Jay Howard (37)
5 Sebastian Saavedra (27)
6 James Davison (21)
7 Daniel Herrington (28)
8 Jesse Mason (49)
9 Pablo Donoso (36)
10 Junior Strous (18)
11 Brandon Wagner (32)
12 Jonathan Summerton (9)
13 Charlie Kimball (35) Mechanical
14 Mike Potekhen (24)
15 Andrew Prendeville (2) Mechanical
16 James Hinchcliffe (7) Mechanical
17 Ana Beatriz (20) Contact
18 Gustavo Yacaman (44) Contact
19 Ali Jackson (6) Mechanical
20 Rodrigo Barbosa (55) Mechanical
21 Pippa Mann (16) Contact
22 Martin Plowman (15) Contact

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