Esteban Guerrieri wins Indy Lights race, teams cry foul
Esteban Guerrieri lead from the start to take the David Hobbs 100 in the Indy Lights series. Sam Schmidt Motorsports team mate Josef Newgarden finished second, and Team Moore Racing’s Gustavo Yacaman finished third.
The win is highly controversial since the first two places were won by cars that were initially sent to the back of the field following post-qualification inspection by IndyCar officials. That decision was quickly reversed, much to the dismay of team owners who believe – and have believed -- that Sam Schmidt’s cars are being allowed the benefit of an uneven interpretation of the rules.
Schmidt’s cars also failed a post-race inspection after their Indy win as well. According to some team owners, IndyCar is trying to promote Schmidt as something of an IndyCar celebrity -- indeed he’s already one of the best-known quadriplegics in the world – and Schmidt’s success is certainly a feel-good story.
For the record, the issue with Saturday’s controversial qualification attempt was that Schmidt ran the camber on the team’s cars outside of Firestone’s recommendations. This was not technically against the rules, and probably was the basis for the reversal.
The owners unhappiness spilled over to the track before the race, with Peter Dempsey refusing to take the grid in protest. Dempsey made it clear to AutoRacing1 that they were doing this in protest in order to take their long-simmering unhappiness public, in hopes of forcing a resolution to the problem.
Most Indy Lights owners are putting their own money into the series – which cost around $800,000 to $1 million per year per car to run. Belardi Auto Racing told AutoRacing1 that it cost then $250,000 to replace the car they lost in Jorge Goncalvez’s spectacular Indy crash. If the owners perceive that they can’t compete on a level playing field they will soon be gone, and with many of the drivers are also paying for their rides, they can just as easily run one of the European formulas if they become unhappy. Tim Wohlford reporting from Milwaukee
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI: (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, winner David Hobbs 100): "It wasn't a big challenge, only on the start with Josef (Newgarden). The car was really awesome for the whole race. We just had to keep going at the same pace. I'm really pleased for Sam Schmidt Motorsport and Lucas Oil. They make a big effort to bring the car to victory lane. This my first win so I'm really happy."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 11 Copart/ScoreBig/Robo Pong/SSM, finished second): "It was a great points scoring weekend for the whole team, especially for us. We've talked about being consistent every weekend here throughout the rest of the year. It's great for the team to get a win with Esteban. He did a great job so I'm really happy for the team. We just got to keep doing this every weekend. Hopefully we can get back up to the top step but if we're scoring points and getting podiums, we're in good shape."
JORGE GONCALVEZ (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing Special, finished third): "I feel pretty good. We started seventh and made some gains, so it was good. The car is awesome to drive and it was a good result."
BRYAN CLAUSON (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/CURB Records/SSM, finished fourth): "We were really tight from the outset. I was working hard inside the car to get it to turn. It was a character building day. I didn't have a fourth place start but got back to there. I just made adjustments, changed the lines and I found something that made it better.
GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No.2 TMR-Tuvacol-Xtreme Coil Drilling, finished fifth): "The car started out very good, and we got up to third place, but I ran out of adjustments before the race ended. I was fighting a bad understeer at the end of the race and just couldn't hold on to third place."
Results Sunday of the David Hobbs 100 Firestone Indy Lights Series event on the 1.015 mile Milwaukee Mile, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (1) Esteban Guerrieri, 100, Running
2. (2) Josef Newgarden, 100, Running
3. (7) Jorge Goncalvez, 100, Running
4. (3) Bryan Clauson, 100, Running
5. (4) Gustavo Yacaman, 100, Running
6. (9) Victor Carbone, 99, Running
7. (6) David Ostella, 99, Running
8. (8) Stefan Wilson, 95, Running
9. (5) Anders Krohn, 0, Mechanical
10. (10) Victor Garcia, 0, Contact
11. (11) Brandon Wagner, 0, Contact
12. (12) Duarte Ferreira, 0, Contact
13. (13) Peter Dempsey, 0, DNS
Winners average speed: 130.236
Time of Race: 00:46:45.6824
Margin of victory: 5.5012 seconds
Cautions: 1 for 5 laps
Lead changes: 0
Lap Leaders: Guerrieri 1 - 100
Point Standings: Newgarden 191, Guerrieri 175, Wilson 145, V. Garcia 141, Goncalvez 125, Ostella 121, Dempsey 119, Krohn 116, Yacaman 111, Carbone 106