INDIANAPOLIS (July 6, 2011) – Daniel Herrington of Raleigh, N.C., will be behind the wheel of the No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy Firestone Indy Lights car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) when practice begins Friday for this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place in Toronto.
The No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy car has two regular drivers assigned to it for the 2011 season – Bryan Clauson and Conor Daly, both from Noblesville, Ind. The pair is splitting driving duties with Clauson, a USAC standout, driving all the oval races, and Daly driving all the road and street circuits. However, a European commitment has Daly missing Toronto and the Edmonton race weekend. Herrington will also drive the car in Edmonton.
Herrington is no stranger to the Indy Lights Series. He has more than 30 starts in the IndyCar feeder series, including a victory at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., in 2009. In fact, he will be the only SSM driver this weekend with any Indy Lights experience on the challenging Toronto circuit.
The North Carolina driver joins an SSM team that is simply firing on all eight cylinders. The team is dominating in every category.
Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo Pong Dallara/Firestone Indy Lights car, is leading the season point standings over teammate Esteban Guerrieri. Newgarden has a season-high three race wins, including a victory in the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
While Newgarden has been dominant in the races, Guerrieri has been equally dominant in qualifying. The driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil Firestone Indy Lights car has won the Firestone Pole Award at four of the first six races. The Argentinian trails Newgarden by 46 points (243-197).
The fourth driver in the SSM Indy Lights stable is young Victor Carbone from Brazil. Carbone gains confidence every time he slips behind the wheel and is coming off his best race of the season at Iowa Speedway in Newton. Carbone finished sixth in the No. 3 Nevoni Indy Lights car and ran the final 20 laps keeping pace with eventual winner Newgarden.
Victor Carbone, Driver of the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:
How much does your solid run at Iowa help you for the streets of Toronto?
“I feel good progress was made in Iowa. Now, we are headed back to the street courses and everything changes, once again. But carrying the confidence that we are improving every weekend is a good thing to bring to Toronto.”
So, you are gaining confidence in the car?
“Every time I get in the car, I get more used to it and more comfortable, which always increases my confidence. Every oval we have been to this year has had its own challenges, and that makes me learn and understand more of the car’s abilities. If I’m learning, I’m building my confidence.”
Esteban Guerrieri, Driver of the No.7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:
Does the accident at Iowa motivate you even more to come out and run well at Toronto?
“It doesn’t really change my level of motivation to the race weekend. Obviously, the result at Iowa wasn’t the one I wanted, but I learn from every experience. Now, it is time to re-focus, and I am sure if we will give our maximum. We will be strong again.”
With three oval races in a row, what is your mindset as you head to more street circuits and road courses?
“For sure, it will take me a few laps to get used to turning right again. (Laugh.) Actually, it is good to have a mix because it makes it a nice challenge for a driver to have to re-adapt to every different circuit layout on the calendar.”
Josef Newgarden, Driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:
How have you prepared to transition back to a street course after three consecutive oval races?
“I’m excited for Toronto. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how everyone transitions back to road-course racing after two months of all ovals. It’s certainly been a unique experience for me, and I think it’s going to provide an excellent training platform for running, hopefully, in the IndyCar series someday. I’ve worked a lot the last couple of weeks with my engineer, Doug, over Skype. We’ve gone over a lot of data, video and notes from previous drivers. Obviously, Sam Schmidt Motorsports has a vast knowledge base and a great working group this year. I feel confident we’re going to be able to run at the front like we have every weekend this year.”
Daniel Herrington, Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:
Is there any pressure stepping into a Sam Schmidt car that has already been in victory lane this year?
“I’d be lying if I said no. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in situations but, obviously, jumping into a car as competitive as this brings a little more pressure to make sure it runs where it should be running, which is at the front. Having not driven a car much in the last year other than driving one oval race in a Lights car last year has created a long break for me. I haven’t driven a Lights car on a road course since August of 2009. But, jumping into one of Sam’s cars is a great way to come back because you know it’s going to be competitive right off the bat. I am looking forward to it.”
How much ‘knocking off the rust’ do you think you’ll go through before you feel comfortable in the car?
“It’s hard to say. In the past, I’ve been able to get up to speed fairly quickly. I hope that’s the case this time. Indy Lights is very competitive, and Toronto is a tricky track. It’s very bumpy with a lot of pavement changes, so it can take a little bit of time to get comfortable in that situation. I guess the one advantage – or upside – I have is the fact I’ve raced there before in 2009. Though the result wasn’t what I wanted in 2009, I learn a lot in each experience, and I hope I can apply that to this race.”
Meet the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Team
|Driver: Victor Carbone
Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
|Chief Mechanic: Derrick “Tex” Stepan
Hometown: Cypress, Texas
|Engineer: Kent Boyer
Hometown: Yorkville, Ill.
|Mechanic: Kevin Conley
Hometown: Richmond, Ind.
|Tire Specialist: Steve Kisner
Hometown: Danville, Ind.
Meet the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Team
|Driver: Esteban Guerrieri
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
|Chief Mechanic: Dave Higuera
Hometown: Costa Mesa, Calif.
|Engineer: Tim Neff
Hometown: Surfers Paradise, Australia
|Mechanic: Taylor Kiel
|Tire Specialist: Chad Potier
Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.
Meet the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Team
|Driver: Josef Newgarden
Hometown: Hendersonville, Tenn.
|Chief Mechanic: Sean Birmingham
Hometown: Torrance, Calif.
|Engineer: Doug Zister
Hometown: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
|Mechanic: Mike Meyer
Hometown: Westfield, Ind.
|Tire Specialist: Carlos Fernandes
Hometown: Macau, South China
Meet the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Team
|Driver: Daniel Herrington
Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
|Chief Mechanic: Jason Robb
Hometown: Romeo, Mich.
|Engineer: Chris Finch
Hometown: Hoffman Estates, Ill.
|Mechanic: Max Neyron
Hometown: Montreal, Canada
|Tire Specialist: Brad Kreutzer
Hometown: Las Vegas
Sam Schmidt Motorsports Toronto Indy Lights History
|2010||7/18||J.K. Vernay||1||1||Running, 50/50||50|
|2010||7/18||Pippa Mann||13||8||Running, 50/50||0|
|2010||7/18||James Winslow||11||11||Running, 49/49||0|
|2010||7/18||Philip Major||12||12||Running, 46/46||0|
|2009||7/11||James Hinchcliffe||2||3||Running, 50/50||0|
|2009||7/11||Wade Cunningham||10||7||Running, 50/50||0|
|2009||7/11||Gustavo Yacaman||8||8||Running, 49/49||0|
|2009||7/11||Ana Beatriz||7||13||Running, 49/49||0|