INDIANAPOLIS, May 25, 2012 – Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt has often said, “A.J. Foyt didn’t make Indianapolis; Indianapolis made A.J. Foyt.”

That same sentiment is also shared by Sam Schmidt and his Sam Schmidt Motorsports team. Though he has now won 49 Firestone Indy Lights races as a car owner, Schmidt will tell you his team’s accomplishments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) are the most important to him and his successful organization.
On Friday, Argentine Esteban Guerrieri fattened SSM’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway stats sheet. Starting last after a post-qualifying engine change, Guerrieri drove a masterful race to win the Firestone Freedom 100 on Miller Lite Carb Day at IMS.
Here are some of SSM’s statistics at the Speedway that have helped loft the team to be one of the most successful in INDYCAR history:
•Sam Schmidt Motorsports now has won seven of the 10 Firestone Freedom 100 races.

•Sam Schmidt Motorsports has won four consecutive Firestone Freedom 100 races, an event record.

•Wade Cunningham has the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indy Lights one-lap track record of 1 minute, 34.6485 seconds at 190.447 mph (May 2009) driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

•Sam Schmidt Motorsports won three straight Freedom 100 poles in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

•Sam Schmidt Motorsports has won the Freedom 100 Pole a record four times.

•Esteban Guerrieri is the first Argentine driver to win a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

•Sam Schmidt Motorsports won the coveted Indianapolis 500 Pole in 2011 with driver Alex Tagliani.

 

Guerrieri’s victory Friday also put an exclamation on the strong start to the 2012 season that SSM has seen. Along with his teammate Tristan Vautier, Guerrieri has finished on the podium (top three) in all four Firestone Indy Lights series races so far this season.

This Firestone Freedom 100 is the fifth career Firestone Indy Lights victory for Esteban Guerrieri and his second victory this season. He also won the most recent event in Long Beach, Calif.

 

Vautier finished third in his first race at IMS while Carbone finished sixth after fading from the lead pack. SSM’s Oliver Webb finished 15th after a five-car crash eliminated him on Lap 4.

 

Three of the race leaders were SSM drivers. Carbone led 25 laps after taking the lead from Yacaman on Lap 2. He led until Lap 27 when Vautier took over. The Frenchman led for 11 laps. It was Guerrieri’s daring outside pass of Vautier and Carlos Munoz, who finished second, that brought him Guerrieri the victory. He led the final three laps.
With his win, Guerrieri leads the Firestone Indy Lights championship with 177 points over teammate Tristan Vautier, who

has 163 points. Team AFS driver Sebastian Saavedra is third with 159 points, while SSM’s’ Victor Carbone is fourth with 122 points. Team Moore’s Gustavo Yacaman rounds out the top five with 113 points.
The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Saturday, June 2, part of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

 


Quotes


Esteban Guerrieri (Finished 1st), Driver of the No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM Dallara:

“It was quite long out there, and the sun was also quite hot. The start, it was a fantastic race. That’s why I’m trying to remember it all, you know. I had a very good start. We got some more speed into the start. So I got a run on the outside. I think I overtook like four cars already into Turn 1, and I just tried to be smart, you know, not to get too greedy, even if I make up positions really quickly. I just tried to use my head, as my engineer was telling me. So I definitely went step by step. Then I was in P7 and there was a red flag, so everybody cooled down the tires and everything. Then on the restart I already was feeling the car a bit loose. So, you know, last year it was different to this year because last year was a little cooler, and we didn’t make so many laps in a row on high speed. So I didn’t know what the car was going to do. So I just tried to stay where I was. I was in P5, I think, I stayed where I was, took it easy, tried not to kill the tires as my engineer told me. The last five laps are the ones that are important. So I just went from there on, and the last five laps was when I began attacking. The car was better. Everybody was struggling I guess as much as I was, but I was comfortable overtaking around on the outside. It was a great day. I was very aggressive on the last two or three laps. We got the win from the back; it doesn’t happen every day. I think the last time it happened for me was in go-kart. I repeat it this time and it’s Indianapolis, the Speedway, which is the history of motorsports. So I can’t tell you how happy I am because the team – Sam Schmidt guys – they are my friends after a year and a half working with them. They are basically my friends and my family. I’m so pleased that we could achieve this. You know, I think we are on a good way for a championship but we really wanted to get this one, and I was confident from the back I could do it. So I’m really, really pleased. I want to dedicate this race, if everybody can write, to Chris Griffis, which was our team manager and, you know, he passed away last year. He loved to win this one.”


Tristan Vautier (Finished 3rd), Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM Dallara:

“We were so close. What a day. It was so much fun. It was just great racing here with the crowds, and the track is awesome. Running in a pack like this was so much fun. I’m still frustrated because I led for so long that I could almost see it. But it’s only the last lap you have to lead to win a race, so we didn’t. Great job from my team. We started ninth and I finished third, so I think I cannot be unhappy with that. It was my first race on an oval in an Indy Lights car, so I think it went well. I’m proud of my team. I had a great car to run in traffic. And I want to give a big thanks to Mazda as well for putting me here today because I would not be in that seat without them. I had so much fun. After watching the big cars and Indy Lights the last two years, and I hoped one day it would be my turn. So I couldn’t be happier today unless I had won.”


Victor Carbone (Finished 6th), Driver of the No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/SSM Dallara:

“I was feeling really comfortable in the car and wasn’t really challenged until halfway. I was able to always pass right back into the lead if someone passed me. But once I fell a couple of cars back, I wasn’t able to stay up and couldn’t charge back to the front. It was frustrating. I want to thank the Sam Schmidt team for doing such a good job preparing my race car for me.”

Oliver Webb (Finished 15th), Driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM Dallara:

“We had a really good start. I got up to eighth from the back of the grid because of an engine change. The car was feeling absolutely amazing. David Ostella, coming up behind me, started to come down. He cleared my right and made contact with someone who made a late move down to my inside and touched my rear tire. Anyone higher than me, we were all collected together. A disappointing way to finish my first Freedom 100.”

Oliver Webb (Finished 15th), Driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM Dallara:

“We had a really good start. I got up to eighth from the back of the grid because of an engine change. The car was feeling absolutely amazing. David Ostella, coming up behind me, started to come down. He cleared my right and made contact with someone who made a late move down to my inside and touched my rear tire. Anyone higher than me, we were all collected together. A disappointing way to finish my first Freedom 100.”

DATE:             May 25, 2012

EVENT:          Firestone Freedom 100

SERIES:         Firestone Indy Lights Series

RACE WINNER: Esteban Guerrieri of SSM

SSM DRIVERS:   Esteban Guerrieri (winner, 40/40 laps)                                                   Tristan Vautier (2nd, 40/40 laps)                                                             Victor Carbone (6th 40/40 laps)                                                             Oliver Webb (15th, accident, 4/40 laps)