Firestone Indy Lights Series points leader Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/SSM car, led the four-car Sam Schmidt Motorsports team Sunday with his second place finish in the Baltimore 100, part of the INDYCAR Baltimore Grand Prix weekend.
Driving through the field from his 14th starting position, Newgarden finished on the podium for the ninth time in 2011. Also joining the Henderson, Tenn., driver on the Baltimore Grand Prix podium was SSM’s Victor Carbone, driver of the No. 3 Nevoni/SSM car. It was Carbone’s first Firestone Indy Lights Series podium finish.
Team Moore Racing’s Gustavo Yacaman won the Baltimore 100 and captured his first Indy Lights wins after 39 tries. He becomes the sixth different driver to win in the series in 2011. He beat a charging Newgarden by .45 seconds.
With his second place finish, Newgarden stretched his series points lead over his SSM teammate, Esteban Guerrieri, 489-399.
“We love the track, but it’s probably the most difficult track we’ve gone to, honestly,” Newgarden said. “Normally, you don’t like difficult tracks when it’s easy to make mistakes. I made mistakes yesterday (in qualifying) and put ourselves in a bad position for today. That’s why this is probably the best moment of the year.”
Rounding out the top five were Bryan Herta Autosport’s Bruno Andrade and Andretti Autosport’s Sefan Wilson.
While Newgarden and Carbone celebrated, it was heartbreak for the other two SSM drivers in Baltimore. Guerrieri, driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM car, was dominating the 35-lap race when he made a mistake and turned too early in the hairpin on the Streets of Baltimore circuit. He crashed his car and finished 12th.
Sunoco Pole Sitter and SSM driver Conor Daly’s race also came to a screeching halt on lap 25. After leading the first 22 laps in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM car, Daly was following Guerrieri in second place when wall contact ended his day. It was Daly’s last scheduled appearance in the Indy Lights Series for 2011.
There were three caution periods for six yellow flag laps.
Carbone is seventh in Indy Lights points with 280 while Daly is 12th with 142 points after having only competed in six races.
The next Firestone Indy Lights Series race is at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., on Sunday, October 2.
Josef Newgarden, Driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry (second place):
“It was a great race by Gustavo (Yacaman). He showed no mercy and definitely made no mistakes. It’s a tribute to their team and to him. I’m very happy for him that he got a win. We’re focused on the championship. We always have been. I would like to have another win for us but that is a great way to rebound after having a very tough time on Saturday. I was really disappointed with how qualifying went. To finish off the weekend like this hopefully can help us at the end of the year. I’m elated for the whole Sam Schmidt Motorsports team, especially for Victor Carbone. For him to get a podium is just fantastic. He’s a good driver and he’s had a lot of bad luck.”
Victor Carbone, Driver of the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry (third place):
“It feels amazing. It was the toughest race I have ever done. It was really bad, as Josef said. I mean, at the beginning of the race, our pace was good. And then, I wasn’t able to keep up with those guys, but I think the key to today was being consistent and letting others make mistakes. I want to thank my whole team that has been with me the whole year. We’ve been working really hard to achieve this, and I just want to thank my crew because they never give up. So, that’s good.”
Esteban Guerrieri, Driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry (12th place):
“For some reason, which is totally personal, I did the stupidest mistake in my career, which is hit in that inside wall in the hairpin. Obviously the track was getting grippier and I realized that, that’s why I could push quite hard. When I turned, I realized I was a little close to the wall, but I had done that during the weekend. As soon as I put the power down, I was thinking the rear was going to snap and the opposite happened and it grabbed more grip, and I went to the inside and hit the wall. I should have run wider, half a meter wider. I had to cruise for only six laps and the race was finished. (On what’s going through his mind when he crashed while leading): “I’m thinking, ‘why didn’t I become a tennis player?’ If I were born again, I would be a tennis player.”
Conor Daly, Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM Entry (14th place):
“It was going good, an interesting start. Gus (Yacaman) hit me about six or seven times in the back pretty hard, so I basically had to keep the car on track. I was able to do that. I knew he was going to try to pass me going into the hairpin in Turn 3, and sure enough he went for it but braked away too late. I got it back, but he tried again and I got it back again. I knew our car was way fast. The car was great and kept getting better, but all of the sudden, I don’t know what happened. Turning around the corner I just got a little bit loose every lap, getting a little worse and Esteban started catching me. In turn two, there are four bumps and right at the last bump it just snapped away from me and hooked left and right straight back into the wall and basically that was it. The upper wishbone was snapped in half. There are a lot of variables that could have caused it. Curbs are rough. Gus hit me a lot. I don’t know. It’s unfortunate for sure. I really wanted to do well here. But I enjoyed the track and enjoyed the weekend so, it’s alright.”
Date: Sept. 4, 2011
Event: Baltimore 100
Series: Firestone Indy Lights Series
Location: Streets of Baltimore Circuit (2.4-mile, 12-turn street course)
Winner: Gustavo Yacaman of Team Moore Motorsports
SSM Team: Josef Newgarden (Started 14th, Finished 2nd/Running, completed 35 of 35 laps)
Victor Carbone (Started 7th, Finished 3rd/Running, completed 35 of 35 laps)
Esteban Guerrieri (Started 4th, Finished 12th/Running, completed 28 of 35 laps)
Conor Daly (Started 1st, Finished 14th/ Running, completed 25 of 35 laps)