Indy Lights teams testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
More than a dozen Firestone Indy Lights teams converged on Las Vegas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile oval today to test in preparation for the Oct. 15-16 NASCAR-IndyCar weekend. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be joined by the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights Series.
Sam Schmidt of Las Vegas owns four Indy Lights teams and his drivers participated in the test session. Schmidt, a former Indy Racing League driver, won the 1999 Vegas.com 500 at LVMS.
"I am ecstatic to be back here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway," Sam said. "It brings back good memories of winning the race in 1999. Coming back here on the oval is very long overdue. It's really cool to come out here and watch our cars do a 30-lap side-by-side-by-side run. Everything went smoothly just as expected with the banking here and with the grip. The grip - the downforce of our cars - will be extremely exciting for the fans. Both IndyCars and Lights will be two-and-three-wide all day long. I think it'll be a great show for the fans."
Twenty-one-year-old Bryan Clauson of Carmichael, Calif. drives in the Firestone Indy Lights Series for Sam Schmidt Motorsports and tested here today with his three teammates. "I was here in 2008 with the (NASCAR) Nationwide Series," said Clauson, "but it's a lot different with these cars. The cars are really secure and stable and it's going to make for some wild racing in October. It's going to be an exciting weekend."
Clauson is no stranger to open-wheel racing, having competed rather successfully in the USAC National Sprint Car Series and USAC National Midget Series. He won more than 20 USAC races in 2009 alone.
"It's great to be a part of a multi-car team," said Bryan.
"There's a lot of information going around. With tests like these you can run through a lot of stuff and learn a lot more than if you were trying to do it by yourself.
"We're running the white line (inside groove) here with the Indy Lights cars, when you're running the stock car you're on the fence, as close as you can get to the wall. Racing Nationwide Series cars is a different animal, but racing principles are racing principles. You draft up on a guy, you have to have the run to shoot to the outside. If you're drafting, you have to push - two cars are faster than one. It's a different animal, but getting some laps and knowing the layout definitely helps."
The four Sam Schmidt Motorsports cars ran in a pack for a good portion of the morning session.
"It was wild, swapping back and forth with my teammates, going from first to fourth in a straightaway and back to first in the next straightaway," Clauson explained. "It's going to be a lot of close, exciting racing with a lot of action."