LONG BEACH, Calif., Saturday, April 14, 2012 – Second-year veteran Esteban Guerrieri will lead the four-car Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) team to the green flag Sunday in the Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Guerrieri will start on the outside of the front row in his No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car after posting the second fastest lap in qualifying. His lap of 1:14.7757 seconds at 94.747 mph was only beaten by Andretti Autosport’s Sebastian Saavedra.
Saavedra’s lap of 1:14.6143 at 94.952 mph around the 1.968-mile temporary street course in Long Beach, Calif., earned the Columbian his second consecutive Firestone Indy Lights’ pole in 2012.
SSM’s Oliver Webb will start third in his No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car after he posted a lap of 1:14.8661 at 94.633 mph. Starting next to Webb on the outside of the second row will be Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz.
Brazilian Victor Carbone will start sixth for Sam Schmidt Motorsports driving the No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. His lap of 1:15.1889 at 94.227 mph was just better than SSM’s Tristan Vautier’s lap of 1:15.3773.
Vautier, who will start seventh, had his best lap of the session forfeited after being penalized by INDYCAR officials for ‘qualifying interference.’ Vautier crashed his No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy/SSM car late in the session. He thought driving the damaged car back to the pits would keep the session from being red-flagged, but INDYCAR officials ruled that he impeded the qualifying efforts of other drivers on his way back to the pits.
Team Moore Racing’s Gustavo Yacaman will round out the top five starting spots Sunday after he qualified with a lap of 1:15.1221 at 94.310 mph.
By starting second, Guerrieri has qualified in the top five for 17 consecutive Firestone Indy Lights races, extending his league record.
The Grand Prix of Long Beach Firestone Indy Lights will be aired in its entirety on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) on Thursday, April 19 at 5 p.m. Live radio coverage, as well as timing and scoring, of all on-track activity can be heard on IndyCar.com.
Esteban Guerrieri (Qualified 2nd), Driver of the No. 11 Pistas Argentina/SSM Dallara:
“The car in qualifying was actually quite good. I was taking it fairly easy, like pushing it at 80 percent, early in the session. I was just trying to get a good pace going through the session. In the end, I was pushing quite hard on the second set of tires. Then on the third set of tires, I was again quicker, but then it was a crazy end to the session. I have a good race car for tomorrow, but qualifying is so important and I’m a little disappointed with how things happened at the end of the session to be honest. When there is a crash, there should be a local yellow and there wasn’t anything. The tires were moved, and there was still no decision made on the track.”
Oliver Webb (Qualified 3rd), Driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM Dallara:
“We had a pretty good run at the beginning. Tristan and I were shuffling between P1 and P2 for most of the session. Toward the end of the session, I hit really bad luck with traffic. At the beginning of the session, I think I was one of the luckiest guys out there with traffic, which put us very high. Unfortunately, I was stuck behind a car for the end the session. There is a lot of compromise in whether you can use all of the road or you sacrifice one corner to improve on the next here at Long Beach. It’s very easy to make a mistake.”
Victor Carbone (Qualified 6th), Driver of the No. 3 Max TV/Nevoni/SSM Dallara:
“There were a lot of red flags, and it was hard to tell when we should change the tires. I made a mistake in what would have been our fastest lap. Everyone is very close together at the front speed wise. It’s really easy to make mistakes at Long Beach, so tomorrow will be difficult race.”
Tristan Vautier (Qualified 7th), Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM Dallara:
“I lost control in Turn 5. I got loose in the entry and ended up in the tires. And from then, I was at the middle of the track, so I decided to back it up and bring it back to the pits so as not to cause a red flag to the session for the other guys. I feel sorry for the team because the gave me a car capable of pole, and they did a great job. It’s really disappointing because we were very fast in practice, very fast in qualifying, then we had an incident in traffic where I brushed the wall a little bit, and we lost a lot of track time. They put the car back together very quickly, and we went out for the last ten minutes and put the car in P1, but the last lap I didn’t make it.”
I’m Not J.K. – For the first two races of the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights season, casual pit observers may have thought 2010 Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay was driving the No. 11 Pistas Argentina/SSM Dallara. Though the uniform clearly said ‘J.K. Vernay’ on the name area of the belt, it has been Argentine Esteban Guerrieri in the suit. Because Guerrieri’s new suit wasn’t ready for the first two races of the season, he had to make-do with an old Vernay uniform until this Long Beach weekend.
DATE: Saturday, April 14, 2012
EVENT: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
SERIES: Firestone Indy Lights Series
LOCATION: Long Beach, Calif. (1.968-mile temporary street course)
POLE WINNER: Sebastian Saavedra of Andretti Autosport
SSM DRIVERS: Esteban Guerrieri (2nd with a lap of 1:14.7757 seconds at 94.747 mph)
Oliver Webb (3rd with a lap of 1:14.8661 seconds at 94.633 mph) Victor Carbone (6th with a lap of 1:15.1889 at 94.227 mph)
Tristan Vautier (7th with a lap of 1:15.3773 at 93.991 mph)