Racing North of the Border

Beginning with the Honda Indy Toronto weekend, the Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Firestone Indy Lights teams begin a three-race Canadian stretch that goes through Edmonton and finishes in Trois-Revieres. In 2011, the Canadian swing was a critical point in the championship, and it looks as if it will play a key role in the 2012 championship as well.

One year ago, Argentine Esteban Guerrieri was in the thick of the championship fight with SSM teammate Josef Newgarden. The pair used the Canadian swing to separate themselves from the rest of the Indy Lights competitors and make it a true, two-driver fight to the end.

Guerrieri won two poles and two races last year in Canada. His wins came in Edmonton (Race 1) and Trois Revieres. Newgarden won the other race in Edmonton (Race 2) and two poles.

In 2012, Guerrieri and SSM teammate Tristan Vautier are first and second in the points and both head into Canada with momentum. Guerrieri has three wins in the last five races, while Vautier has two race wins and three poles this season.

Second-year SSM driver Victor Carbone is putting together a solid season and is tied for fourth in the championship heading into Canada. He will look to pull ahead of Gustavo Yacaman during the Canadian swing.

Rookie SSM driver Oliver Webb is looking at the street courses of the Canadian races as tracks he can use to turn around his season. He has one pole this year, coming in Detroit, but struggled during his first round of oval races.

Practice gets under way Friday, July 6 at 9:45 a.m., and the race is Saturday, July, 7 at 4 p.m.

EVENT:             Toronto 100
SERIES:            Round 8 of 12 in the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Series
CIRCUIT:          Streets of Toronto (1.765-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit)
DATE:                Saturday, July 7, 2012
TIME:                4 p.m. ET
DISTANCE:     87.5 miles (50 laps)
2011 Winner: Stefan Wilson (Andretti Autosport)

Team Owner: Sam Schmidt
Team Manager: Dave Higuera
Team Drivers:
#11 Esteban Guerrieri – Buenos Aires, Argentina (1st in points) – @E_Guerrieri
#77 Tristan Vautier – Corenc, France (2nd in points) – @TristanVautier
#3 Victor Carbone – Sao Paulo, Brazil (tied for 4th in points) – @victorcarbone13
#7 Oliver Webb – Manchester, England (7th in points)- @oliverjameswebb

Pre-Race Quotes

Victor Carbone, Driver of the No. 3 MAV TV/Nevoni/SSM Car

What are your impressions of the city of Toronto after racing there last year?
“Toronto is really cool. I enjoyed going there last year, and I am sure I am going have a good time again. It’s a big city, so there are a lot of things going on. And, it’s really cool to have the race right in the middle of everything.”

Talk about the Toronto circuit.
“It is a demanding track. It is really bumpy with lots of pavement changes which makes it really hard for the car to handle the way you want. It also has some fast corners mixed with some really tight corners. You can say the Toronto circuit has it all.”

You race in Canada for three consecutive events. Talk about the Canadian race fans.
“They are just fantastic, especially in Trois Rivieres where we are the feature race. Canadian fans love the sport. They come out in big numbers, so it’s always a lot of fun going to the Canadian races.”

What did you do between Iowa and Toronto?
“Right after Iowa, I went to Road America to coach Jason Wolfe who races in the USF2000 series. I had a really good time as I got to drive the car once again. Road America is such a cool track. After that, I came back to Indy until I leave for Toronto.”

Oliver Webb, Driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM Car
What are your impressions of the city of Toronto?
“I first met Sam (Schmidt) in Toronto when Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) was racing for the team, and it was a fantastic event. The city is so vibrant and busy. It is a great place to spend some time before the race weekend.”

You race in Canada for three consecutive events. Talk about the Canadian race fans.
“The fans in Canada seem like they will be great. My first Indy Lights race was in Edmonton where I got a podium and the Canadian fans loved it!”

What did you do between Iowa and Toronto?
“Between Iowa and Toronto, I went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK. I drove up the famous hill in some supercars I test drive in Europe and the UK.”

Esteban Guerrieri, Driver of the No. 11 Vistas Argentinas/SSM Car
What are your impressions of the city of Toronto?
“I was really impressed with the city last year. I liked it a lot when I walked around downtown. It was cool to see so many different kinds of people who were all so friendly. It was my favorite one!”

Give me your thoughts on the Toronto circuit.
“It’s a very demanding track that doesn’t allow for much time to relax. It is also bumpy in some places. Since the setup is a key factor for a good qualifying run, we have to focus on that.”

You race in Canada for three consecutive events, talk about the Canadian race fans.
“Many people came down to watch the events. They seem to have lots of fun, and that helps for a great atmosphere. Hopefully the weather helps so the crowd gets massive!”

What did you do between Iowa and Toronto?
“I had a nice weekend off and it was good to charge the batteries for Toronto. There really isn’t that much time between races, so it’s kind of the same routine with engineering debriefs, training, simulator work, etc. Now we are ready!”

Tristan Vautier, Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy/SSM Car
What are your impressions of the city of Toronto?
“I love the city. I attended the 2010 IZOD IndyCar race weekend and had a lot of fun. My challenge this year, besides doing well in the race of course, is to get back to the top of the CN Tower and dare to walk on this transparent floor. I know it can support the equivalent of many elephants or so, but I’m still too scared to walk over it.”

Give me your thoughts on the Toronto circuit.
“I haven’t raced on it but it looks very exciting and challenging.”

You race in Canada for three consecutive events, talk about the Canadian race fans.
“They are great. The best race for me is Trois-Rivieres and the French-speaking fans there. The Grand Prix is a long tradition for them and they are amazing fans.”

What did you do between Iowa and Toronto?
“I worked out, prepared for the Toronto race with the team, and went up to Road America to help out a driver racing Skip Barber.”

Broadcast Information
The Toronto 100 Indy Lights race will be aired in its entirety on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) on Thursday, July 12, at 5 p.m. ET. Live radio coverage, as well as timing and scoring, of all on-track activity can be heard at IndyCar.com.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports Indy Lights Notes

• SSM is the most successful team in Firestone Indy Lights racing with 51 race wins, 52 race poles and five championships.
• Esteban Guerrieri leads the 2012 Indy Lights points with 288. He is followed by Vautier with 276, Andretti Autosport’s Sebastian Saavedra with 244 and Carbone and Team Moore’s Gustavo Yacaman with 217. Webb is seventh with 166.
• With his three wins this season (Long Beach, Indianapolis, Iowa), Esteban Guerrieri now has six Firestone Indy Lights victories.
• Guerrieri also has six Indy Lights career poles.
• Tristan Vautier has won two races and three poles in 2012.
• Carbone, Guerrieri and Vautier have completed all 425 laps of Indy Lights competition so far in 2012, which means they have been running at the finish of every race this year.
• Vautier has finished in the top five in every race (7) in 2012. Guerrieri has six top-five finishes this year, while Carbone has five top-fives.
• All four of the SSM Indy Lights drivers have led laps in 2012. Vautier is the series’ leader with 223. Guerrieri is second with 93 laps led. Carbone and Webb are tied in fourth with 25 laps led.
• Both Carbone and Guerrieri have 21 consecutive Firestone Indy Lights Series starts. Team Moore Racing’s Gustavo Yacaman has 34 consecutive series starts.
• Vautier’s pole at Iowa was the 52nd pole won in the series by an SSM driver. Here is a list of Indy Lights drivers who have won poles with SSM: Thiago Medeiros (8), Travis Gregg (7), Esteban Guerrieri (6), Alex Lloyd (5), Jaime Camara (3), J.K. Vernay (3), Pippa Mann (3), Josef Newgarden (3), Tristan Vautier (3), Wade Cunningham (2), Jay Howard (2), Brand Erwin (1), Sarah McCune (1), Richard Antinucci (1), James Davison (1), Conor Daly (1), Victor Carbone (1) and Oliver Webb (1).
• Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) was established in 2001 and is owned by former driver Sam Schmidt, who was paralyzed (quad) in 2000 after a testing accident at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. As a car owner, Schmidt fields cars in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, and the Firestone Indy Lights championship.
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