For the first time this year, Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) driver Conor Daly won the Sunoco Pole Award for a Firestone Indy Lights Series race when he recorded the fastest time and speed in qualifying for Sunday’s Baltimore 100, part of the INDYCAR Baltimore Grand Prix.
Daly’s lap of 1:27.8144 seconds at 83.631 mph in his No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy/SSM car led the four-car Sam Schmidt Motorsports team in Indy Lights Series qualifying today. It was a strong showing by the Schmidt team as it placed three cars in the top-10 starting positions.
Starting next to Daly on the front row will be Andretti Autosports’ Peter Dempsey with his lap of 1:27.9673 seconds at 83.486 mph.
It took several hours after qualifying for Daly to be declared the Sunoco Pole Award winner. Firestone Indy Lights Race Director Tony Cotman revised the starting lineup after he determined several drivers set their fastest laps while a local yellow was displayed on course. INDYCAR rules prohibit drivers from setting their fastest lap while a local yellow is being displayed.
SSM’s Esteban Guerrieri will start fourth in his No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM car with his lap of 1:28.3240 seconds at 83.148 mph. It’s only the third time Guerrieri has not started on the front row this season.
SSM’s Victor Carbone turned in a strong qualifying effort with his lap of 1:29.8661 seconds at 81.722 mph. That time will line him up on the inside of the fourth row in seventh.
Firestone Indy Lights Series points leader and SSM’s fourth driver, Josef Newgarden, will start 14th Sunday. It is his lowest starting position of the season. Per INDYCAR rules, Newgarden had his lap times disqualified because he caused two full-course yellows during the qualifying session, according to Cotman.
The Baltimore 100 will be the 11th time a Sam Schmidt Motorsports car will start on the Indy Lights pole this season. An SSM driver has also been on the front row for every Firestone Indy Lights Series race in 2011. Daly’s Sunoco Pole Award also earned Schmidt’s team its 48th Firestone Indy Lights Series pole.
Live coverage of Sunday’s Baltimore 100 begins at Noon ET on Versus.
Conor Daly, Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM Entry:
“It means a lot. I’ve wanted a pole for so long. Esteban always seemed to get us this year. I was able to put in a good lap and at the right time. I’m just happy that the officials made the right decision as well. I’m just ready for the race now. I know we have a fast car and I love street circuits.”
Esteban Guerrieri, Driver of the No.7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:
“The shower came two minutes before qualifying starts, so there was confusion. We had to bring the wet tires from our paddock, and we didn’t know if it (the rain) was going to stop or not. All of the sudden it stopped, but I didn’t have a very nice car or a great comfort level from my car in the beginning, so I was really off the pace and I pitted to make the changes I need. Then as we were making the changes, the track was getting drier and drier quickly, so we said ‘let’s wait and see what the track is going to do.’ We went out for the last seven to eight minutes, maybe 10 minutes, and it was still a bit wet but we tried to find the limits and not crash. Then the yellow flags came and all the confusion was difficult to judge, but from my personal analysis I didn’t get the best out of my car or out of myself.”
Victor Carbone, Driver of the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:
“The track got dry at the end there. We started with wet tires, and then went to dry tires. In the beginning when the track was still slick and I had wet tires, we touched the wall and had to come in and fix it. We had to come in and change some of the suspension, and it was enough to get some good laps on the dry track. I still think I left a bunch of time out there. I’m improving every lap, which is good because I want it badly.”
Josef Newgarden, Driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:
“I think we have some damage, and it’s going to cost some money to fix up, but I think it could have been a lot worse. It didn’t hurt, I’m not sore, so thankfully I’m fine. This place has a lot of opportunity for passing. I know not a lot of people think that, but we’ll have the ability to do that because we’re obviously not starting up front this weekend, which is a disappointment after what happened coming into the first day when we were so quick. Tomorrow is the big show, and we’ve got to get it right.”
Date: Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011
Event: Baltimore 100 (Round 11 of 13)
Series: Firestone Indy Lights Series
Location: Streets of Baltimore (2.4-mile, 12-turn street course)
Pole Winner: Conor Daly, Sam Schmidt Motorsports (1:27.8144 seconds at 83.631 mph)
SSM Lineup: Conor Daly (1st, 1:27.8144 seconds at 83.631 mph)
Esteban Guerrieri (4th, 1:28.3240 seconds at 83.148 mph)
Victor Carbone (7th, 1:29.8661 seconds at 81.722 mph)
Josef Newgarden (14th, No Time)