Polesitter Tristan Vautier wins Indy Lights race
Tristan Vautier avoided on-track issues with other competitors, handled three restarts flawlessly and went on to a 1.0391-second victory over Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Esteban Guerrieri. Sebastian Saavedra moved up one position to claim third place in the No. 27 Team AFS car and Oliver Webb was fourth in his series debut in the No. 7 Lucas Oil Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
Vautier is the 10th driver to win his debut race in the series and the sixth who has won his debut at St. Petersburg (Marco Andretti, Raphael Matos, Junior Strous, J.K. Vernay and Josef Newgarden).
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM, St. Petersburg 100 Race Winner): "I could see my mirrors were full on the last restart, I gave it all I had - what a great first day in Firestone Indy Lights! Awesome job by the Sam Schmidt guys today for all their hard work. It was great to be part of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder and what an awesome track - to win at for the first time. You're as good as your race so the win was good but we have to start all over again next weekend. I still have a lot to learn, I learned this weekend but need to keep learning. I never raced on speedways so I still have lots to learn in the Firestone Indy Lights Series. My goal is to work hard and be on top every day.
ESTEBAN GUERIERI (No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM, finished second): "It's not a bad results, definitely good to be one-two for the team to start the season. It's solid points, and congratulation to Tristan that he did a very good, quite challenging race because there were a lot of safety cars and it gets tricky with the cold tires. So, I think we did a good job. Probably I was fighting a little bit of understeer in the beginning which improved a little bit in the end, and he was struggling in the rear I think, so in the end we kind of matched the pace I think. I tried to push for an overtake, maybe a mistake from his side, but he did a good jb and I'm really happy to be here, first of all, which I didn't know if I was going to be two weeks ago, and now I'm here enjoying the second place. So it's quite a good start.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Team AFS, finished third): It feels great, it's good to be back, that's the first thing that comes into my head. I really want to thank the No. 27 crew for putting the racing car together. The race was very tough, we needed to get a good qualifying session, it didn't happen, but I started fourth. There was a little bit of an issue in this first half, losing a position to Victor, but it was better than getting out of the race. From then on, we ran a good car that we used to make two good passes. It was very important points for the championship, very important points for the team, and let's focus to Barber."
OLIVER WEBB (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, finished fourth): "I'm a bit disappointed—had good restarts until the last one, I thought I had a puncture, I was actually cautious on my first lap, I didn't want to break on the inside—Saavedra got a run on me and got by. Average start to the season, we are a winning team, winning car, winning driver—hopefully we can be too next time."
VICTOR CARBONE (No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, finished fifth): "We had a good start, went up to 4th. It took me a little bit to get up to pace and I had to defend against Saavedra all the time. I was under a lot of pressure but I managed to hold him up as much as I could until he finally passed me, and he opened up, and from there on I kind of knew that I couldn't follow the other guys, so I didn't push 100% till the end of the race. Being with the car and the team for a second season is for sure helping me. From last year we know where we need to improve. Definitely thanks to my guys for this weekend. As always they work really hard, and I strive to improve for the perfect."
||Juan Pablo Garcia