Sebastian Saavedra wins Indy Lights race
Being the leader of the pack was the safest place for Sebastian Saavedra on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval.
Saavedra, who started second in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. car, won the Kansas Lottery 100 under caution after a crash-filled 67-lap race (the first oval event of the season). Ten cars were involved in incidents in five caution periods. Wind gusting to 30 mph after had an impact on the aerodynamics of the 24 starters' cars.
Saavedra overtook pole sitter Wade Cunningham entering Turn 1 on a Lap 10 restart and held off multiple challenges until a final caution for contact on Lap 58. AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing has won two of the four races. Eight teams were represented in the top 10.
"I cannot be happier than I am right now," Saavedra said. "AFS/Andretti Green did an incredible job and I have to thank the guys. The key was the restarts. I just had perfect timing behind Wade. It's a win for Colombia, but hopefully the first of many more.
"It was really windy out there. I think the last half of the race I was struggling with the back (of the car) because there were so many wind changes. That was the only thing I had a problem with. My car was perfect. It was really fast. Hopefully, we can keep it going for the rest of the season."
Cunningham, the 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion, posted his best finish of the season in the No. 11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. The Kiwi is familiar with runner-up finishes (seven during his title season).
"We're disappointed not to get the win after qualifying on the pole," he said. "But looking at the high downforce lap times in practice and then looking at the race, we just didn't have the strongest car today. Sebastian was able to run the pace he wanted. No one else could get around him. I tried my best more than once, but I just couldn't get the pass completed on the outside when we were running two-wide, especially with the way the wind worked and the gearing. It was just very, very difficult.
"I'm happy with a second place and everything that goes with that, but I'm disappointed we couldn't hang on to the front."
Mario Romancini, driving the No. 5 Revita/Win Brazil/Allied car for RLR/Andersen Racing, advanced three positions to finish third (his third top 10 of the young season).
"I'm very happy with my first oval race," he said. "Last week I had a problem with the gearbox and couldn't finish the race, so this is very important for the championship. I'm getting comfortable with the ovals. Every lap I'm learning. I just want to thank Firestone Indy Lights and my team. They did a fantastic job."
1. (2) Sebastian Saavedra, 67, Running $30,000
2. (1) Wade Cunningham, 67, Running $22,500
3. (6) Mario Romancini, 67, Running $18,000
4. (3) Ana Beatriz, 67, Running $16,000
5. (9) Martin Plowman, 67, Running $15,000
6. (12) Daniel Herrington, 67, Running $14,500
7. (15) Jonathan Summerton, 67, Running $14,000
8. (8) James Davison, 67, Running $13,500
9. (10) Andrew Prendeville, 67, Running $13,000
10. (22) Jay Howard, 67, Running $13,500
11. (17) Junior Strous, 67, Running $13,500
12. (23) James Hinchcliffe, 66, Running $11,500
13. (7) Charlie Kimball, 65, Running $13,500
14. (4) J.R. Hildebrand, 64, Running $10,500
15. (14) Dillon Battistini, 57, Contact $10,000
16. (5) Pippa Mann, 57, Contact $7,500
17. (11) Gustavo Yacaman, 39, Garage $6,500
18. (13) Sean Guthrie, 36, Garage $5,000
19. (16) Pablo Donoso, 33, Contact $4,500
20. (24) Ali Jackson, 13, Contact $4,000
21. (21) Rodrigo Barbosa, 13, Contact $4,500
22. (20) Sergey Mokshantsev, 13, Contact $3,000
23. (18) Jesse Mason, 2, Contact $2,000
Winner's average speed: 97.157 mph
Time of race: 1:02:53.5296
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 5 caution flags for 33 laps
Lead changes: 1 among 2 drivers
Lap leaders: Cunningham 1-9, Saavedra 10-67.
Point standings: Summerton 130, Strous 126, Saavedra 123,
Hildebrand 116, Hinchcliffe 116, Herrington 104, Beatriz 101,
Romancini 91, Howard 91, Davison 87.