2010 Firestone Indy Lights Thread

All about the IRL Indy Pro Series and the Atlantic Championship

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Postby mlittle » Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:58 pm

Current Firestone Indy Lights Top-10 Standings
1st} J.K. Vernay, 478 pts(5 wins)
2nd} James Hinchcliffe, 430 pts(3 wins)
3rd} Charlie Kimball, 371 pts
4th} Martin Plowman, 364 pts(1 win)
5th} Sebastien Saavedra, 303 pts(1 win)
6th} Dan Clarke, 291 pts
7th} Pippa Mann, 282 pts(1 win)
8th} Gustavo Yacaman, 279 pts
9th} Stefan Wilson, 278 pts
10th} Philip Major, 275 pts
--Additional Wins: Wade Cunningham(1 win)

note----w/his 3rd-place finish, Vernay clinched the 2010 FIL championship
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Cunningham, SSM Reunite for Homestead Season Finale

Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:28 pm

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---Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced Sept. 28 that Wade Cunningham will return to the cockpit of the #77 IZOD/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry for the Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka 100, the season finale of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The trio of IZOD, Cunningham, and Sam Schmidt Motorsports had a successful debut in May where the New Zealander scored his third Firestone Freedom 100 win at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"We're excited to have IZOD on board with us for the season finale, and I have to thank them for affording us the opportunity to put Wade in the car," team owner, Sam Schmidt, said. "This was a strong combination of sponsor and driver in May, and we're confident that we can produce a similar performance this weekend in Miami."

Cunningham, who hasn’t competed in Firestone Indy Lights since his Indianapolis win, is looking forward to getting back behind the wheel. Cunningham’s best finish at Homestead was a fourth as a rookie in 2005.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get into a competitive car with the Sam Schmidt team,” Cunningham said. “They’ve been a good bunch to work with, and I know anytime I step into one of their cars, I’ve got a good shot to win. I also have to thank IZOD for getting involved in the program. We had a good run in Indy, and I hope we can deliver for them again in Homestead and head into the off-season with some good momentum to try and build a program to step up into IndyCar in some capacity with the partners we’ve been working with.”
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Additions To 2010 Season Finale

Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:30 pm

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---O2 Racing Technology (formerly Genoa) announced Sept. 27 that Daniel Herrington will drive the No. 36 Quamtel/DataJack entry in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I've known Daniel for several years now, and it's always been a pleasure working with him,” team owner Mark Olson said. “We've got a lot of laps at Homestead, and with Daniel driving and Dave McMillan engineering, our expectations are high for a great result heading into the off-season. Daniel's smart, mature, and talented, and we're super-excited about the opportunity to work together as we both begin working on our 2011 programs."

Herrington, a 23-year-old native of Winston-Salem, N.C., earned his first win at Chicagoland Speedway in 2009 and is eager for the opportunity to show his talents thanks to an opportunity from Olson, a former teammate in Firestone Indy Lights.

"After watching from the sidelines for most of the year, I was very excited to hear about the opportunity with O2 for the season finale,” Herrington said. “I have known both Mark and the engineer Dave McMillan for a number of years, with Dave bringing me my first Indy Lights podium in 2007. I am excited to work with them again. “ The race will be the home race for O2RT’s sponsor Quamtel, which is based in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Up-and-coming USAC driver Henry Clarke will join Davey Hamilton Racing for the Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after successfully completing Firestone Indy Lights rookie testing at Kentucky Speedway on Sept. 22-23.

“He did a really good job,” said Kevin Blanch, IZOD IndyCar Series technical director, who oversaw Clarke’s rookie test. “He’s an Impressive young driver and doing the right thing trying to get race experience before trying to race in Firestone Indy Lights full-time. I think he’ll be an asset to the series when he gets there.”

Clarke, the 2009 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of The Year, claimed his first USAC national sprint car victory at Toledo in July. He currently ranks in the top 10 in both USAC National Sprint Car and National Midget points. The 21-year-old native of Villa Park, Calif., relocated to Indiana in May to race for Keith Kunz Motorsports in the USAC series.
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Continuity Helps SSM Succeed in Indy Lights.........

Postby mlittle » Sat Oct 02, 2010 2:32 am

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Sam Schmidt Motorsports is on the verge of winning the Firestone Indy Lights championship for the fourth time in the past seven years. But the team’s owner insists that he isn’t the one to praise. Instead, he says, continuity should get the credit.

Schmidt’s team has managed to keep together a group of talented engineers, managers and mechanics for an extended period of time. Rare for an IZOD IndyCar Series team; rarer still for a Firestone Indy Lights team.

When J.K. Vernay takes the green flag in Saturday’s Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he’ll clinch the 2010 championship and become part of Schmidt’s lore. The former IZOD IndyCar Series driver also won Firestone Indy Lights drivers championships with Alex Lloyd, Jay Howard and Thiago Medeiros.

The trick? Running a Firestone Indy Lights team as if it were an IndyCar team, with similar pay for top employees, a similar commitment to winning, and a similar plan to operate the team as a profitable business. “It took me a while to figure it out,” Schmidt said. “When I first started the team, we tried to go too big too fast, and it didn’t work. We had to reinvent the wheel, and that meant forming a base of talented employees who stayed with us over time. The driver is the only variable each year.”

Schmidt, engineer Tim Neff and team manager Chris Griffis form the core of the group that have been together for many years and the combination is on the cusp of winning its fourth drivers title since 2004. “Eighty percent of the guys on the team have been there for five years or better,” Schmidt says. “That’s not usually the norm on the Lights level. We treat the team as an IndyCar team that just happens to run Indy Lights. Other teams might develop engineers who then find the grass greener on an IndyCar team for more money or stability, but I look at it differently. We don’t give them a reason to leave our team and go elsewhere.”

In part, that’s because Schmidt fields cars for the Indianapolis 500 each year, but it’s also because he finds enough financial support to pay his employees salaries competitive with those offered by IndyCar teams. Why leave when you’re in a good situation – and you’re winning races and championships?

So when you see Vernay celebrate the championship when he takes the green flag at Homestead, you’ll also see Pippa Mann and Philip Major attempt to lock down top-10 finishes in the 2010 championship, while Wade Cunningham returns for a one-off for SSM.

Behind the scenes, though, you’ll see longtime Schmidt employees celebrate, too. People like Griffis, Neff, Randy Klein, Kent Boyer, Taylor Keil, Dave Higuera, Kevin Conley, Chris Finch, Jason Robb, Max Neyron and George Sladky – names familiar throughout the IndyCar community – will acknowledge yet another successful season with the premier team in Indy Lights. “When you get guys like that, it’s easy to attract the young talent,” Schmidt said. “It took me a long time to figure that out.”

The young talent has been flocking to Schmidt’s team since 2004. Current IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Lloyd, Howard and Ana Beatriz once were on the SSM roster. Other notable former Schmidt drivers include James Hinchcliffe, Jaime Camara, James Davison, Richard Antinucci, Leilani Munter, Gustavo Yacaman, Logan Gomez and Travis Gregg. Overall, the team has won 37 Lights races and 39 pole positions in seven seasons.

“Winning helps add to the fun,” Schmidt said. “We try to create an environment that people want to work in and not just collect a paycheck. We’re here for the long run. We’re committed to have the best program possible.”
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Mann On Point At Homestead.............

Postby mlittle » Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:03 am

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Since missing the Mid-Ohio round in early August to undergo surgery on her hand, Pippa Mann has recorded fifth-, second- and first-place finishes. After earning her second pole start -- at Kentucky Speedway on Sept. 3 -- Mann went on to her first Firestone Indy Lights victory. Two in a row would suit her fine.

Mann, driving the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, earned her third Sunoco Pole Award of the season with a two-lap average of 186.597 mph on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval.

“Here and Kentucky are two extremely different tracks," she said. "We would love to do it again. That was the goal (coming to Homestead-Miami Speedway) -- to have a perfect weekend. In this series, that’s getting pole, leading the most laps and winning the race. I don’t know if that’s possible. I’m really, really focused to getting back to fifth in the championship. If that happened, I think I would be lost for words. As people who know me know, that doesn’t happen to me very often.”

She’ll be joined on the front row for the Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka 100 by Charlie Kimball, who had a qualifying effort of 186.343 mph in the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen car for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport. It’s Kimball’s fourth front-row start of the season.

“We spent both practices working on our race car. The car felt good in the warm-up lap, so I knew the car was quick,” said Kimball, who has eight top-five finishes in the 12 races. “I was hoping to get a pole to finish out the year, but I'll take the front row for sure."

Brandon Wagner, making his fifth start, qualified a season-high third (his previous best was eighth) in the No. 32 Davey Hamilton Racing car. Philip Major, driving the No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry will join him on the second row.

Firestone Freedom 100 winner Wade Cunningham in the No. 77 IZOD Sam Schmidt Motorsports car will be on Row 3 with James Hinchcliffe in the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling entry. J.K. Vernay, who will wrap up the series title when he takes the green flag in the season finale, qualified 12th in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. Henry Clarke, making his Firestone Indy Lights debut with Davey Hamilton Racing, qualified 11th.
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