Esteban Guerrieri tops Indy Lights practice at Trois Rivieres The Sam Schmidt Motorsports trio of Esteban Guerrieri, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly swept the top spots Friday in opening practice for the Firestone Indy Lights' Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres.
Guerrieri recorded a fastest lap of 58.3372 seconds during the 45-minute practice session in preparation for Saturday's qualifying session. Firestone Indy Lights championship points leader Newgarden followed, clocking his best lap at 58.5050 seconds.
Daly, who claimed the Star Mazda pole last year in the GP3R, clocked in at 58.5668. Stefan Wilson of Andretti Autosport was fourth at 58.7261 and Team Moore Racing's Gustavo Yacaman claimed the fifth fastest lap at 58.8928.
"So far it's looking quite good; you can't do better than being first," Guerrieri said. "I cannot complain, but we have a bit to do with the car and I think that we're going to find more time with the car tomorrow when it's a bit grippier. So I'm quite happy with where we are standing but we still have some work to do."
Guerrieri, competing in his first year in Firestone Indy Lights, could set a record for consecutive front-row starts should he start on the front row at Trois Rivieres. Guerrieri currently shares the mark with 2004 champion Thiago Medeiros with five straight front row starts that dates to Milwaukee.
"I didn't know about it," Guerrieri said of the record. "It's good to leave some mark on the Firestone Indy Lights series. If I can, even better, but it's not my original goal. If I do it, it's like an extra cherry on top of the cake. Let's go for it."
GRAND PRIX TROIS RIVIÈRES POST PRACTICE QUOTES:
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/SSM): "Through the session everyone was getting quicker and quicker, and I think you'll see that all weekend long. As the grid level rises, there's certainly going to be a lot more time to be had on the circuit. We'll just reset it every day. I think this track is pretty interesting and challenging. It's certainly very small it feels like, but then again it's not too small -- it's not annoying how small it is. It's fun to race on a very tight circuit because it's very technical, you have to work on a lot of technical side of the cars and make sure that you get the balance just right. And it's bumpy as well which makes everything more difficult. It's fun, it's cool, I've heard a lot of people like this place a lot. Certainly the atmosphere is a lot of fun, so it's great to be here."
PETER DEMPSEY (No. 26 Andretti Autosport): "It's a really neat experience racing here. The track is one of my favorite street courses. I think having the past driving experiences is really going to help me in the Firestone Indy Lights race this year, just because not many of the drivers have raced here before and it's always nice to have the upper hand. I won the race here with Star Mazda in 2008 then didn't do so well in 2009, then I came here last year as a driver coach. But I think this year driving with Andretti Autosport will hopefully give me the first win of the season in the Firestone Indy Lights series. I'm hoping the bit of track knowledge I do have will allow me to get up to speed a little bit faster."
MIKAEL GRENIER (No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling): "It's very special to be back here in Trois Rivieres. This is my third time racing here, the past two times being in Star Mazda and now in Firestone Indy Lights. The Firestone Indy Lights car has much more power, so you can really get going around this track. The fans are also very excited about this race so it is great to be a part of it." (About the car and practice session): "The car was very well balanced and I have to thank Team Moore for giving me the chance to get back in a Firestone Indy Lights car. We have a few tenths left in it, so I think we will be strong for qualifying tomorrow. No one wants to push too hard and crash in practice, so you always leave a little extra for when it's time to qualify."
DAVID OSTELLA (No. 16 Global Precast Team Jensen): "Just knowing the track really helps, knowing every little bump, knowing where it goes. Knowing the tricks of the track above everybody else really helps as well. You definitely notice the difference in the turn 6 since it has been widened. It's there for you to use so that really helps carrying the speed through that turn, and you've got that extra exit so that really helps. There's still some dirt that flies up off the tires, but it definitely helps giving you speed into the corner. I'm going to be focusing on a bit of both the qualification side and the racing when it comes to my strategy. Obviously qualifying up front is good; it is a little tricky to pass here so qualifying up front will help. For the race though, getting through that first lap is crucial to the rest of the race."
CONOR DALY (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/ SSM): "I really like this track, it's such a fun place and it's great to be able to get back into the Firestone Indy Lights cars. The team has done a great job in prepping the car and so I've just got to work on catching my teammates. I'm just happy to be here and ready to race. I think widening Turn 6 has really helped; it's wide pretty late in the corner though so you have to watch the edge of the tire barrier. But I think that we're using as much of the road that we can and I think it's a good change and will improve everything in that corner really. My strategy for the race is to win! I'm not here for points or anything so my strategy is go big or go home. I'm just ready to race."
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "So far it's looking quite good; you can't do better than being first in the practice session. I cannot complain, but we have a bit to do with the car, and I think that we're going to find more time with the car tomorrow when we have more grip. So I'm quite happy with where we are standing, but not sleeping. We have to still keep working on it.
The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres on Aug. 7 at the streets of Trois Rivieres. It will be televised on tape delay by VERSUS at 4 p.m. on Aug. 17.