Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Esteban Guerrieri grabbed the lead from teammate and pole-sitter Josef Newgarden in turn five on the first lap and led all the way to the finish to win Saturday’s Firestone Indy Lights’ Edmonton 100 Race 1 at Edmonton City Centre Airport in Alberta, Canada.

Driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil car, Guerrieri was flawless after taking the lead in a daring three-wide pass that was created when Andretti Autosports’ Peter Dempsey forced Newgarden wide in turn five. Guerrieri dove through the inside opening for the lead and held off Newgarden to the finish. The leaders only finished 36 of the scheduled 40 laps as the race reached its scheduled 60-minute time limit.

The win was Guerrieri’s second Firestone Indy Lights victory of the season. He also won on The Milwaukee Mile in June. The Argentinian also has five Sunoco Pole Awards in 2011.

Newgarden, in the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong car, ran second to Guerrieri after the first lap pass and was never challenged from behind. Earlier in the day, Newgarden claimed his first Firestone Indy Lights Sunoco Pole Award with a lap of 1.22.7721 seconds at 96.728 mph. Guerreiri was second in qualifying on the 2.256-mile street course.

Late in the race, it appeared Sam Schmidt Motorsports was going to sweep the podium when Brazilian Victor Carbone passed Dempsey in turn 13 on lap 25 to move into third place driving the No. 3 Nevoni car. However, Dempsey tried to slingshot by Carbone on the inside at the end of the long, front straightaway. With too much speed, Dempsey locked up the wheels creating a cloud of tire smoke. The pair emerged from the smoke only to make contact exiting turn one. Carbone brushed the outside wall, ending his day, while Dempsey’s car ended upside down. Neither driver was injured.

Carbone was having his best weekend to date in the Indy Lights series. He qualified fourth, but fell back to fifth on the first lap. He patiently tracked down Liberty Racing’s Anders Krohn and passed him for fourth place on lap Lap 24, and then set his sights on Dempsey in third. Carbone was scored in 11th place.

In his second race as a substitute driver in the No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy car for SSM, Daniel Herrington again started his race by getting involved in a first lap accident. The multi-car crash was triggered behind Herrington, but he was collected when a car hit him from behind. After going to the pits to replace his rear wing, Herrington rejoined the race one lap down and finished ninth.  

Jensen Motorsports Oliver Wilson finished third in his Firestone Indy Lights debut. Andretti Autosport’s Stefan Wilson and Herta Autosport’s Bruno Andrade finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

There were 3 caution periods for nine laps and two race leaders (Newgarden and Guerrieri).

Newgarden continues to lead the Firestone Indy Lights Championship points chase over Guerrieri (308-282). Andretti Autosport’s Stefan Wilson is 29 points behind Guerrieri in third. Carbone is 11th in points after seven races with 173, while Herrington is 21st after two races.

The next Firestone Indy Lights Series race is the Edmonton 100 Race 2 tomorrow, Sunday, July 24, part of the Edmonton Indy weekend. The starting grid for that race was set by fastest laps from Race 1. Newgarden (1:22.9337) again will start on the pole and Guerrieri (1:23.0158) again will join him on the front row.


Esteban Guerrieri (Finished 1st), Driver of the No.7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:  

“Starting from the pole has been good, but not good enough for the wins. It’s not that I didn’t want to win the pole today; Josef was just a bit a quicker. We were both off to a very good pace from the beginning. The changes we made between practice and qualifying were done in a very short time. I saw my car 10 minutes before qualifying, and it was in three pieces, so big thanks to the guys. Today was very much a team effort, finishing one-two with Josef. It was a good race but there’s another race tomorrow so we’ll do the best we can.”

Josef Newgarden (Finished 2nd), Driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:

“We had a really strong race; it just wasn’t quite enough at the end. We have been saying points, points, points all along, so I think that is going to be the key for us to win the championship. We came off a disappointing result in Toronto, and we didn’t want to see that result happen again. So coming into this weekend, we had a very positive attitude, but we are definitely focusing on points and what it takes to build those. The plan is to definitely finish in the top three and look for wins along the way. I think you have to be really conservative and today we had a lot on Esteban but not quite enough to get by him. With Esteban you have to have more than a little bit to get by him. He did a good job and congratulations to him and the team. It is difficult not to have Victor up on the podium with us because he was running a really strong race, but it sounds like he had a bit of a tough time with Peter (Dempsey) so that was unfortunate to see for a teammate. It would have been nice to have three Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers on the podium, but tomorrow is another day and hopefully we can do it then.”

Daniel Herrington (Finished 9th), Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:

“I got a great start and passed a few cars going into one. I was looking to pass maybe a few more going into turn five down there, and I got hit from behind and the side all at once. It spun me around and tore off my rear wing. I felt like it might have broken something in the rear end as well. Unfortunately, I went a lap down because of that. After that, the car felt pretty good though I wasn’t really moving up because I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.  After the pit stop, I couldn’t hear the team and they couldn’t hear me. I didn’t know what lap it was, how fast we were going, position we were in or any of that. So it was difficult. I’m optimistic tomorrow is going to be a lot better”

Victor Carbone (Finished 11th), Driver of the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:

“I am just getting more comfortable in the car, and it’s (the crash) a shame because this by far is the best race for me so far this year. I was fighting with Peter (Dempsey), and I looked in my mirrors. I knew he was going to get a run on me. I know how he is. He breaks really hard. I went into turn one as deep as I could because I knew he was going to try and match me. He got inside me.  I was going to get a run on him on the outside coming out of one, but he didn’t leave me any room and we touched. It is a shame.” 

Date:                          July 23, 2011

Event:                        Edmonton 100 Race 1

Series:                       Firestone Indy Lights Series

Location:                  Edmonton City Centre Airport in Alberta, Canada (2.256-mile street course)

Winner:                    Esteban Guerrieri of Sam Schmidt Motorsports

SSM Team:              Esteban Guerrieri       (Started 2nd, Finished 1st / Running, completed 36 of 36 laps)

                                    Josef Newgarden       (Started 1st, Finished 2nd/ Running, completed 36 of 36 laps)

                                    Daniel Herrington      (Started 8th, Finished 9th / Running, completed 35 of 36 laps)

                                    Victor Carbone          (Started 4th, Finished 11th / Accident, completed 28 of 36 laps)