LAS VEGAS — Victor Carbone completed his first Firestone Indy Lights season with a victory in the Las Vegas 100.
Carbone, who earned his first Sunoco Pole Award on Oct. 14, became the fourth Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver to celebrate in Victory Circle.
Carbone and teammate Esteban Guerrieri, running closely behind leader Josef Newgarden exiting Turn 2 of the final lap, moved to the high side entering Turn 3 and raced side by side to the start/finish line. Carbone got there 0.0229 of a second ahead.
“It was a tough race,” said Carbone, who earned his third top-five finish in the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
Carbone, whose previous high finish was third at Baltimore, said his front wing on the quick move to the right sliced Newgarden’s rear tire, which caused Newgarden to fade to ninth. The cars were separated nose to tail by 0.0921 of a second on Lap 66.
“We were running so close all race, and I was trying to be as close as possible to him so we can break away from the group,” Carbone said. ”But the draft here is so big that we didn’t manage to do that. The last lap I knew I had to get in there. I went on the outside, and I think I caught his tire.
“It was a shame because I wanted the team to be top three. But it’s a boost. It’s a payoff for the hard work we did this season, and this goes to (team manager) Chris Griffis (who died) in September.”
Newgarden was momentarily upset on the radio, but he also repeatedly thanked his crew and said, “I’m glad for Victor, but dangit.”
Guerrieri, driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, clinched second in the championship to Newgarden, who secured the title at Kentucky Speedway on Oct. 2.
“I knew Victor was going to be quick, so I was behind him the whole race,” said Guerrieri, who recorded three victories and six pole starts. “Then we were joined by Newgarden, so it was good to run one, two, three. Then I saw (Justin) Wilson was not close to position in the last few laps, so it was definitely important to finish one, two, three for the team, and I also wanted to reclaim my second place in the championship.
“On the last lap, last corner, I was really close to getting Victor, but anyway it was a very good result.”
Jorge Goncalvez in the No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing car finished third (he placed in the top five in four of the six oval events).
“I feel really good on the ovals now,” said Goncalvez, 20, who also was finishing his first Firsetone Indy Lights season. ”Today I started thinking about what I needed to do to go to the front, started passing cars and working with the gears a lot. I was waiting for the last lap to see what would happen.
“It was really good for me to get all the practice working with the gears and passing. I think I need to race more often in Indy Lights to get to the level of being a professional driver.”
Gustavo Yacaman finished fourth, followed by Jacob Wilson and Brandon Wagner.
“We finished fourth and I’m not happy with the result,” said Yacaman, driver of the No. 2 TMR-Tuvacol-Xtreme Coil Drilling car who also finished fourth in the standings. ”I would have liked to finish the year with a podium. Overall, I’m happy finishing fourth in the championship. I’m going to try to work really hard on moving up next year and see what happens.”
Stefan Wilson entered the race seven points ahead of Guerrieri in the duel for the runner-up spot in the standings. Wilson, driving the No. 5 Citizenre Andretti Autosport car, was holding the spot through Lap 58 of the 67.
“We were running fifth and should have finished fifth,” he said. “With 10 laps to go, we had a misfire and just started losing power, then started losing places as well. It was a frustrating end to a really good weekend.”