DETROIT INDY LIGHTS EVENT PREVIEW

EVENT: Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
SERIES: Round 5 of 12 in the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Series
CIRCUIT: Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Detroit (14-turn, 2.07-mile street course)
DATE: Saturday, June 2, 2012
TIME: 1:30 p.m. ET
DISTANCE: 45 laps (93.15 miles)
2011 Winner: First ever event

Team Owner: Sam Schmidt
Team Drivers:
#11 Esteban Guerrieri – Buenos Aires, Argentina (1st in points) – @E_Guerrieri
#77 Tristan Vautier – Corenc, France (2nd in points) – @TristanVautier
#3 Victor Carbone – Sao Paulo, Brazil (4th in points) – @victorcarbone13
#7 Oliver Webb – Manchester, England (8th in points)- @oliverjameswebb

Detroit Muscle
Sam Schmidt is a car guy. He loves all types of cars and has a collection he maintains near his home in Henderson, Nev. Much of his collection focuses on Detroit muscle cars, especially the Camaro.

One of his favorites is a 1967 Indy 500 Pace Car Camaro in which he enjoys cruising around Las Vegas.

This weekend, Schmidt will be bringing some ‘muscle’ back to Detroit in the form of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) Firestone Indy Lights team. When the SSM Indy Lights transporters roll into Detroit, they will be bringing the big muscle of INDYCAR’s Road to Indy Development Series.

SSM is a five-time Firestone Indy Lights Championship-winning team. It’s most recent champion, Josef Newgarden (2011), now drives in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

The team arrives in Detroit flexing its muscles again. Last week, SSM driver Esteban Guerrieri won the Firestone Freedom 100 Indy Lights race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indy 500 weekend. It’s the biggest race for that series, and SSM has won it seven times, including the last four runnings.

On the strength of that win and a victory in Long Beach, Guerrieri leads the Indy Lights points championship. But, he is closely followed by his teammate Tristan Vautier. Both drivers have finished on the podium in every race this year with Guerrieri winning two races and Vautier winning one.
In his second year driving for SSM, 19-year-old Victor Carbone is coming into his own in 2012. The Brazilian has been hovering in the top five in every race and his fourth-place spot in the points proves that. Carbone won the last race of the year in 2011.

Britain’s Oliver Webb is Schmidt’s fourth driver and sits eighth in points. A string of bad luck has kept Webb off the podium, but he does have one top-five finish so far. Webb would like nothing more than to add some bulk to the Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ muscle this weekend in Detroit.

Could it be a 50/50 Weekend?
The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend could be extra special for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. The Indianapolis-based Firestone Indy Lights team currently sits with 49 series race wins and 49 series poles.

Carbone, Guerrieri and Vautier are among the 17 drivers who have won Indy Lights poles for SSM. Thiago Medeiros won eight poles in the 2004 season, while Travis Gregg won SSM seven poles. Guerrieri scored six poles in 2011.

The list of race winners for SSM includes 15 names. They are Richard Antinucci, Ana Beatriz, Carbone, Wade Cunningham, Conor Daly, James Davison, Guerrieri, Logan Gomez, Jay Howard, Gregg, Alex Lloyd, Pippa Mann, Medeiros, Josef Newgarden and JK Vernay.

Pre-Race Quotes

Victor Carbone, Driver of the No. 3 MAV TV/Nevoni/SSM Car
Thoughts about going back to racing on a street course race right after Indy?
“It is a completely different mindset. The first laps might feel a bit different, but then you come back to the road course mindset and it’s all good. I think it’s good to have a variety of different tracks in the series so it challenges us a bit more.”

If you know anything on the Detroit circuit, please give me your thoughts?
“The track looks fun; full of really fast turns mixed with some really slow speed ones as well. It also looks like it will be really hard to pass, but we will see for ourselves when we hit the track for the first time in practice. The series hasn’t been there in a while which means it will be a new track for all the drivers.”

Each of you had crew members from your Indy Lights car working on the two SSM Indy 500 entries. It has to make you feel good that a crew that finished 9th in the Indy 500 is working on your crew.
“I don’t think it makes much difference from my standpoint as I have always trusted their work since I came to the team. All of them do an outstanding job, so working on the IndyCar is just a plus.”

Oliver Webb, Driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM Car
Talk about switching to a tight, street course circuit this weekend after racing at Indy?
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and even more so knowing that Indy lights have never been there and the track is different from when IndyCar was last there.”

What do you know about the Detroit circuit?
“It’s very high speed for a street circuit and each corner leads to another so we’ll have to compromise in some corners to be quicker in others. These compromises may be different for the race than they are for qualifying.”

It has to make you feel good that some of your No. 77 Lucas Oil Products crew members were on the team that finished ninth in the Indy 500 with Townsend Bell?
“Yes they did very well and our Indy lights engineers are some of the best and most experienced out there.”

Esteban Guerrieri, Driver of the No. 11 Vistas Argentinas/SSM Car
Thoughts about going back to racing on a street course race right after Indy?
“I like it. It’s mixing it up a little bit which is fun. Its takes a little while when you sit down with your engineer and go back to check street course set-ups and go through all the different stuff. It’s all completely different than Indy. But once you do all the homework and your brain is re-programmed back to turning left and right, then it’s fine.”

If you know anything on the Detroit circuit, please give me your thoughts?
“I have never been there, but I heard from many drivers and engineers that is extremely bumpy and it has a very interesting combination of medium/high speed corners. Apparently, it’s really difficult to overtake, so we will put a lot of effort into a good qualifying run.”

Each of you had crew members from your Indy Lights car working on the two SSM Indy 500 entries. It has to make you feel good that a crew that finished 9th in the Indy 500 is working on your crew.
“The whole group of SSM Indy Lights guys are my friends. I trust the guys so much that I reckon they should win the Indy 500 by a lap. That is how good it makes me feel to work with them. I am impressed how much work they put into the month of May. They have so much passion for this and when you do good, it’s just such a great feeling to share that enjoyment with the team.”

With two wins in a row and a podium finish in the other two races, do you feel like you can win every time you step in the car?
“Well, it’s important to be realistic so you can set achievable goals. Having such a good team behind me gives me the chance to set my goals high. So answering your question, right now, I jump in the car with the aim of winning for sure because I know its something we can produce in every race under any circumstance if we do the work properly.”

Tristan Vautier, Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy/SSM Car
“I’m really looking forward to getting back on a street course. I really love them. Indy was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of time to prepare for that. Detroit is going to be completely new for everyone, even for the older Indy Lights teams. It’s going to be all about learning fast – learning the track fast and getting up to speed quickly. Here at Sam Schmidt, we have four cars so we can share data and tips, so that is an advantage. We can also try different stuff on each car and see what’s the best, so that’s another advantage. The Sam Schmidt team is always good at figuring things out quickly. So all I have to worry about is my driving. It’s going to be very interesting. The track looks awesome and it looks like it is going to be a good event in Detroit.”

Broadcast Information
The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Indy Lights race will be aired in its entirety on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) on Thursday, June 7 at 5 p.m. Live radio coverage, as well as timing and scoring, of all on-track activity can be heard on IndyCar.com.

Schmidt Schmidt Motorsports Notes

• Esteban Guerrieri’s back-to-back wins at Long Beach and Indianapolis were his fourth and fifth race wins of his Firestone Indy Lights career.
• Guerrieri has six Indy Lights career poles.
• At Indianapolis, Guerrieri established an Indy Lights record by having the lowest starting position of a race winner. He started 18th.
• Indianapolis ended Guerrieri’s streak of 17 consecutive top-five starting positions.
• Both Carbone and Guerrieri have 18 Firestone Indy Lights Series starts. They are tied with Jorge Goncalvez, but trail Gustavo Yacaman who has 31 series starts.
• Vautier has led 56 laps this year in Indy Lights racing, more than any other driver.
• If a Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver wins the pole for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Firestone Indy Lights race, it will be the 50th pole won in that series by an SSM driver. Here is a list of Indy Lights drivers who have won poles with SSM: Thiago Medeiros (8), Travis Gregg (7), Esteban Guerrieri (6), Alex Lloyd (5), Jaime Camara (3), J.K. Vernay (3), Pippa Mann (3), Josef Newgarden (3), Wade Cunningham (2), Jay Howard (2), Brand Erwin (1), Sarah McCune (1), Richard Antinucci (1), James Davison (1), Conor Daly (1), Victor Carbone (1) and Tristan Vautier (1).
• SSM is the most successful team in Indy Lights with 49 race wins and five championships.
• Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) was established in 2001 and is owned by former driver Sam Schmidt, who was paralyzed (quad) in 2000 after a testing accident at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. As a car owner, Schmidt fields cars in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, and the Firestone Indy Lights championship.