Davison goes wire-to-wire in Indy Lights
This year, there wasn't any confusion … or doubt. James Davison made sure of it.
Davison, starting from the pole in the No. 21 People*s Liberation car, led all 40 laps and won the Mid-Ohio 100 for the second consecutive year. It was the first victory for Vision Racing five weeks after Davison gave the team its first pole at Watkins Glen.
James Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, finished 4.0420 seconds back and Firestone Indy Lights points leader J.R. Hildebrand finished where he started (third) in the Nol 26 ARPRO car for AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing.
In July 2008, a rainstorm muddled not only the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the race but the vision of pole sitter Jonny Reid, who followed the safety car onto pit lane believing he had won the race. Unfortunately, there was still one lap remaining. Davison, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, was the beneficiary.
Davison didn't need any favors on the return visit, with the No. 21 entry displaying speed and nimbleness on the tricky 13-turn circuit throughout the practice sessions, 45-minute all-car qualifying and the race. He held off Hinchcliffe and Hildebrand on a Lap 22 restart - following the lone full-course caution of the race - and stretched the advantage the remaining three laps.
"We didn't really have any pressure from behind," said Davison, who has four top-five finishes in the past five races. "The whole team effort was awesome. The tires started to wear off, losing front grip and rear grip, but it's the same for everybody. We were able to pull away from the next car behind us, so I gather we were the quickest car on the track."
Hinchcliffe closed to 0.6760 of a second on Lap 25 and was within a second on Lap 30, but he couldn't find a way around Davison's car or benefit from a driver miscue.
"It's just so tough to pass here," said Hinchcliffe, who posted his sixth top-five finish and season best in the 12 races. "I think we took a couple laps longer to get up to speed, but once we did the first half of race we were right on his gearbox. I was kind of hoping he get into a mistake, but I must have used up too much of my tires running around in the dirty air there, so we sort of lost pace there at the end.
"Still a great day; we finally broke the third place streak we had going and make it one step higher. Now we've got one to go. Three races to do it; one more step to go."
1. (1) James Davison, 40, Running $30,000
2. (2) James Hinchcliffe, 40, Running $22,500
3. (3) J.R. Hildebrand, 40, Running $18,000
4. (9) Felipe Guimaraes, 40, Running $16,000
5. (8) Martin Plowman, 40, Running $15,000
6. (6) Daniel Herrington, 40, Running $14,500
7. (11) Andrew Prendeville, 40, Running $14,000
8. (17) Stefan Wilson, 40, Running $14,500
9. (5) Richard Philippe, 40, Running $13,000
10. (13) Gustavo Yacaman, 40, Running $12,500
11. (16) Mike Potekhen, 40, Running $13,000
12. (14) Ana Beatriz, 40, Running $11,500
13. (12) Charlie Kimball, 40, Running $13,500
14. (7) Wade Cunningham, 40, Running $12,000
15. (18) Pippa Mann, 40, Running $10,000
16. (15) Ali Jackson, 40, Running $7,500
17. (4) Mario Romancini, 37, Running $6,500
18. (10) Sebastian Saavedra, 26, Running $6,000
19. (19) Rodrigo Barbosa, 20, Off Course $4,500
Winner's average speed: 103.908 mph
Time of race: 52:09.2142
Margin of victory: 4.0420 seconds
Cautions: 2 caution flags for 4 laps
Lead changes: No lead changes
Lap leaders: Davison 1-40.
Point standings: Hildebrand 420, Saavedra 357, Davison 341,
Cunningham 336, Hinchcliffe 333, Romancini 306, Herrington
296, Beatriz 274, Yacaman 244, Kimball 243.
JAMES DAVISON (No. 21 People*s Liberation/Vision Racing, Mid-Ohio 100 race winner): "It was awesome. We didn't really have any pressure from behind. The whole team effort was awesome. I'm really happy. The tires started to wear off, losing front grip and rear grip, but it's the same for everybody. We were able to pull away from the next car behind us, so I gather we were the quickest car on the track."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, finished second): "I really thought we got beat yesterday with the way those yellows fell in qualifying, giving James (Davison) the pole there, because I really think we had a shot at it. It's just so tough to pass here. I think we took a couple laps longer to get up to speed, but once we did, the first half of race we were right on his gearbox. I was kind of hoping he get into a mistake, but I must of used up too much of my tires running around in the dirty air there, so we sort of lost pace there at the end. I was doing (1 minute) 14.7 (second laps) after 14.7 after 14.7 but there was nothing I could do to make it go any quicker. Still a great day; we finally broke the third place streak we had going and make it one step higher. Now we've got one to go. Three races to do it; one more step to go."
J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 26 ARPRO, finished third): "It was a tough race. It's hot out here. The car was understeering quite a bit. We trimmed out a little bit to see if we could get by these guys and couldn't make it happen on the starts or restarts so that made my day a little tougher down the road. But, all the boys have done a great job. We had some problems earlier in the weekend so everybody's done a god job to recover. We're going to a couple of tracks I know we'll be strong at the next couple of races so I'm looking forward to moving along.
Tony George (Co-owner, Vision Racing): "I'm very proud of today's result by our Firestone Indy Lights People*s Liberation team. A lot of hard work went it to this by the whole team and James (Davison) all year long and it's great to be rewarded with such a strong performance. The team and its partnership with Bryan Herta Autosport was very strong this weekend. We just barely missed out on putting all three cars in the top-5 both yesterday and today. After flirting with a victory last weekend, it's nice to finally get that first win for our organization."