EDMONTON, Alberta – Saturday, July 21, 2012 – Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Esteban Guerrieri finished third in Saturday’s Edmonton 100 Firestone Indy Lights race, earning his seventh podium finish of the 2012 season.
With his strong finish, he maintains his place atop the Indy Lights championship standings, leading rival Sebastian Saavedra 351-324, with three races remaining. His drive Saturday in treacherous conditions is the type of race that wins championships.
Starting third in his No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM with Curb-Agajanian car, Guerrieri surged into the lead at the start on an extremely wet Edmonton City Centre Airport circuit. He quickly realized he didn’t have the pace to hold off pole-sitter Carlos Munoz and Saavedra, so he didn’t aggressively defend the top position so early in a wet race.
Teammate Tristan Vautier also passed Guerriei on Lap 3, moving him back to fourth place. The Argentine did not panic.
Guerrieri quickly settled into a rhythm and drove his own race. When all the other top 10 cars began to pit for slick tires as the track began to dry rapidly, the open wheel veteran patiently waited until he felt the time was right. His strategy from the cockpit worked.
He was able to come out of the pit sequence in third, getting back around Vautier. As his slick Firestone’s came up to temperature, Guerrieri was consistently turning in the fastest laps among the leaders. On Lap 35 of the 40-lap race, he set the fastest lap of the race (1:24:6199 at 94.616 mph).
Though he was the fastest car on the track and closing on Saavedra, he couldn’t catch the Andretti Autosport driver before the checkered flag, resulting in his third-place finish.
Oliver Webb, driving the No. 77 Lucas Oil/SSM car, easily passed the most cars during the Edmonton 100. After starting fifth, Webb fell back to 9th after a poor start. He steadily picked cars off in the wet and dry on his way to a fourth-place finish.
Radio and communication problems hurt Tristan Vautier’s chances at a podium. The earplug wire in his No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM with Curb-Agajanian car came loose, and he had no communication with his team. He missed his pit window by a few laps, which hurt his position on the track. He managed to finish sixth after late-race battles with fifth-place Peter Dempsey and Gustavo Yacaman.
SSM’s fourth driver, Victor Carbone, soldiered through a frustrating race in his No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/SSM car. Contact early in the race with Yacaman hurt the set-up of his car, making it hard to turn consistent lap times. He finished eighth.
With his sixth-place finish, Vautier slipped to third in the championship with 323 points, just one point behind Saavedra. Yacaman stays in fourth with 295 points, while Carbone is fifth with 277. Webb is seventh with 228.
The next Firestone Indy Lights event is the Aug. 5th Grand Prix of Trois Rivières in Quebec, Canada.
DATE: July 21, 2012
EVENT: Edmonton 100
SERIES: Firestone Indy Lights Series
LOCATION: Edmonton, Alberta
WINNER: Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport
SSM DRIVERS: Esteban Guerrieri (Started 3rd, Finished 3rd/Running, completed 40 of 40 laps)
Oliver Webb (Started 5th, Finished 4th/Running, completed 40 of 40 laps)
Tristan Vautier (Started 4th, Finished 6th/Running, completed 40 of 40 laps)
Victor Carbone (Started 7th, Finished 8th/ Running, completed 40 of 40 laps)
Esteban Guerrieri (Finished 3rd), Driver of the No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM with Curb-Agajanian Dallara:
“It’s one of those days that you have to get the best that you can. Even if I was leading, I felt like it was tough to be on pace in the wet. I tried to just stay away from the mistakes. You could see the track was drying quick, different from qualifying when the track took a long time to dry, but now it dried quite quick so all the sudden we found out that it was a dry track and the stop was crucial. We saw the Andretti guys pitting one lap before and they came out, and I saw Oli [Webb] coming out in front of me, so I felt like it was time to pit for slicks. And the Sam Schmidt guys, even if they are not very used to doing pit stops, they made good time, tried not to hurry and make mistakes, and that’s what they did. What’s important is that we scored more points and we kept on top of the championship which is what matters, and another podium is important.”
Oliver Webb (Finished 4th), Driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM Dallara:
“I had a good start, but Esteban had a really good start in front of me. He dictated the start because he got on the throttle and went straight to the front. We went three abreast into the corner and I made up one place going down the back straight. Then on the outside with Tristan going into Turn 5 I ended up in the grass and lost four places. That was all on lap one. From there, I had to work my way back up. I gained two spots and decided to come in pretty early for slick tires. From there it was a case of making sure I had the temperature in the car before everyone else. Our car was pretty good. We had a good set up but it was just a little too late because the Andretti cars had such good pit stops.”
Tristan Vautier (Finished 6th), Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM with Curb-Agajanian Dallara:
“It was a rough day, though it started off really well. My pace in the rain was really good and I was actually able to get up to third after falling back to sixth at the start. Then everything was good. I was trying to run clean laps, not make mistakes and not abuse my tires. Unfortunately, my earplugs unplugged themselves so I couldn’t hear my crew when they told me when to stop to change tires. I saw Esteban pitting behind me, so I went one more lap and then pitted. We lost some time in the pits, and that put me in some battles with guys on the track and I just got on a bad pace. Then I felt like we lacked some speed on the dry. Yes, it was a tough weekend. For some reason, we never could get it to click today.”
Victor Carbone (Finished 8th), Driver of the No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/SSM with Curb -Agajanian Dallara:
“I had a really good start. But after that, Gus (Gustavo Yacaman) tried to pass me, we touched and the car wasn’t the same after that. Once we touched, I struggled and he didn’t give me any space. It was just stupid to be honest. It was challenging during the weekend to go from wet to dry a few times, but I think it’s fun. The race wasn’t fun. It was just a bad weekend overall. We’ll do better at Trois Rivières.”