Vernay outduels Hinchcliffe in Indy Lights race
Sam Schmidt motorsports rookie driver JK Vernay from France outdueled James Hinchliffe to win Sunday's Firestone Indy Lights Corning 100 race at Watkins Glen. Vernay passed Hinchcliffe by slipstreaming him down the backstraight and slipped under him going into the bus stop turn on lap 19. From there it was a great duel between the two drivers as Vernay won his 3rd race of the year by just 0.21s. Sebastian Saavedra was 3rd for Andretti Autosport.
|(L to R) James Hinchcliffe (2nd), JK Vernay (1st) and Sebastian Saavedra (3rd)|
Hinchcliffe admitted his mistake in Turn 1 opened the door for Vernay to get a run on him down the backstraight. "If I had not made the mistake I do not think anyone would have been able to beat us today. But he was running less wing so once he got in front of me I was not able to get a run back on him because he had a bit more speed down the straight. He did not make any major mistakes to give me a chance to get back by him."
Vernay extended his point lead over Hinchcliffe to 30 points.
||Best Lap Time
||Adrian Campos Jr
J.K. VERNAY (No. 7 Lucas/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, winner): "It was a really hard race. I didn't know the track when I arrived here. The track is so beautiful and so complicated. We improved practice after practice, and by the race, the car was just fabulous. (James) Hinchcliffe made a little mistake in the corner, and I was able to overtake him. It's just fantastic. The team did a great job. This is very good for the championship. Three wins for a rookie isn't bad."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling, second): "This was not the result we were looking for. There's no doubt that the No. 2 car was the fastest of the field. On that second lap of the restart, I got into the kitty litter put down for Stefan Wilson's motor. I said under caution that I was surprised that they were letting us go green with so much stuff on the track, but at the end of the day, it was there. I saw it; I knew it was there. I just tried not to drive down the inside of the track and get a good run. I got a bit sideways out of Turn 1 and gave JK (Vernay) the run. We were all over him at the end, but there was nothing we could do. It was just unfortunate. My boys deserved better."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport, third): "It was a crazy start. The outside position is not a bad way to go because it is so wide going into Turn 1. We were able to go through it, but I lost my position with (Martin) Plowman in that corner. But I was able to get it back. From then on, I was able to maintain pace with the front. We were able to do our own race and just save the tires until the end. At the end with the last yellow, we were very close fighting each other. The amount of downforce needed at this track, it is not very easy to go through. So we're very happy with third place. It's very important points for the championship."
MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing, fourth): "I have to say that this race was kind of like a victory. Coming into the weekend, I would have never been happy with fourth, but considering the weekend we've had and getting the damage early on in the race. We just had a really dogged performance and we never gave up. One day, we're going to get a win. But now we're happy with the points in the championship." (What happened to the car?): "Something broke at the rear of the car. On right-handers, it was fine, but turning left, it felt like I had a flat tire for the whole 30 laps."
JAMES WINSLOW (No. 77 Focal Point/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, fifth): "We totally transformed the car for the race. We didn't get many laps in practice and qualifying because of a sump problem. I ran over a curb, and it lost all the oil. I didn't qualify so we started in the back. The car was fantastic today. Full credit to the team for finding the setup. I found the car more comfortable, and I was able to push. I was catching Plowman for fourth, and I thought there was a potential for a top-four finish. But Charlie Kimball got around me even though he was a few laps down and slowed me up and kept me from passing his teammate. It's really frustrating, but that's racing, and I'm very happy with fifth place."
ANDERS KROHN (No. 4 Andersen Racing, 10th): "It was the gearbox. When I hit the brakes going into the corners, it went into neutral. I had to do about 15 downshifts going into Turn 1. I have blisters on my hands from it. I don't know what we broke in the gearbox, but we broke something. We were running in fourth place comfortably. I was so comfortable. I thought for sure I could get third if we had another restart. But halfway through the race was when the gearbox started acting up. After that, all my focus was just on finishing the race. We were running so strong. I came in 10th, but it was one of the best days of my life ever. This was my first Firestone Indy Lights race ever, but we showed we could run with the big boys. I'm so happy. Today was a big motivation for me. You could write a book on everything that happened over the last two days. It was a fantastic experience. Now we'll go back to focusing on Star Mazda for the rest of the year, and try to work on moving up the Road to Indy ladder to Firestone Indy Lights next year."