INDIANAPOLIS (July 19, 2011) – When the teams of the Firestone Indy Lights Series unload their cars and equipment in Edmonton, Alberta, this Thursday, they will set up camp for a two-race weekend on the Edmonton City Center Airport, part of the Edmonton Indy event Friday through Sunday.
For the first time this season, the Indy Lights Series will have two races in one weekend. The first of the two will be Saturday at 4:30 EDT (1:30 p.m. local) and live on the Versus network. The second race is Sunday, immediately before the IZOD IndyCar Series race, and will also be live on Versus at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. local). Both races are 50 laps and take place on the 2.556-mile, 13-turn Edmonton City Centre Airport circuit.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) driver Josef Newgarden remains the driver to beat this season in the Indy Lights Series. The driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo Pong Dallara/Firestone Indy Lights car is leading the season point standings over SSM teammate Esteban Guerrieri (267-230). Newgarden has a series-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 Indy Lights car has won the Firestone Pole Award at five of the first seven races in 2011, showing his speed on both street courses and ovals. The Argentinian also has one race win, which came on the historic Milwaukee Mile.
Victor Carbone continues to show confidence every time he slips behind the wheel of the No. 3 Nevoni SSM Indy Lights car. The young Brazilian is coming off back-to-back, consistent top-10 finishes.
For the second race weekend in a row weekend, Daniel Herrington of Raleigh, N.C., will be behind the wheel of the No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy entry for SSM.
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 caused Daly to miss the Toronto and Edmonton race weekends.
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.
For a team that has already seen a lot of pole positions and podium finishes this season, Edmonton is an opportunity to double the fun in one weekend.
Victor Carbone, Driver of the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:
Do you look forward to racing twice in one weekend on the same circuit?
“Yes, I think the more seat time, the better. I am trying to learn as much as I can so, the more experience I get in a weekend, the better it is.”
Edmonton is an airport road course, which means it will be wide open tarmac with few walls. Can you compare it to anywhere else you have raced in your career?
“Not really, because this is going to be the first time I will race on an airport road course. It will be another different experience and I am looking forward to it. The course has changed, and that also makes it a bit more tricky in terms of preparation for the weekend.”
Esteban Guerrieri, Driver of the No.7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:
Having never raced there, what do you know about the Edmonton circuit?
“I don’t know much about the Edmonton track. It’s an airport, so I guess it’s going to be wide. The circuit has changed some from last year, so I don’t know how much our data will help us. I have been looking at some videos and working with my engineer over Skype while I was back in Argentina.”
Esteban Guerrieri, Driver of the No.7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara (continued):
How are you approaching your first airport circuit?
“We will take the same approach we’ve been taking so far this season, which has been working on qualifying well. I will try to learn the circuit as quickly as I can. I know the car will be very good because it always has been, so the approach will be the same. To discover a new track with a lot of grass and, I guess, no walls, is going to be very different, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Josef Newgarden, Driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:
Edmonton is a unique weekend because you’ll race on an airport circuit and you’ll race twice. Will this change your team’s strategy for the weekend?
“I’m looking forward to the new environment, especially racing on an airport. It’s one of the many unique highlights we get to experience in the Firestone Indy Lights Series. I’m really excited for the doubleheader. I think it’s going to be a very important weekend, not only for ourselves but for everyone in the championship, to have a strong weekend and maximize the results, seeing as there are two points-paying races up for grabs. Our approach, with the emphasis on the championship, as it has been from the beginning, and including race wins and maximizing points, will not change. We’re going to be mindful to keep away from mistakes and issues, but certainly we’re going to go for wins.”
Daniel Herrington, Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:
Share your thoughts on racing twice in one weekend at Edmonton?
“I haven’t had a two-race weekend in a while, so I am really looking forward to it. A doubleheader means double the fun and double the chance to win. It is the ‘buy one, get one free’ deal of racing. The previous Edmonton track was pretty fast and physical, so I will need to make sure I am well-rested and in good shape with two races in one weekend.”
What’s it like racing on airport circuits?
“Airport tracks are tricky to race on. I raced on the old Cleveland track and the previous Edmonton track. They are very fast, bumpy and wide open. But I always found the hardest part is the lack of reference points for braking, turn-in, etc. The road is so wide that, even without any walls, you often can’t see the exit of the track over the crown of the road. It also encourages some crazy out-braking moves during the race, which don’t always work out. The first corner in Cleveland was notorious for first-lap crashes so, hopefully, we can keep that to a minimum in Edmonton.”
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 Edmonton Indy Lights History
|2010||7/25||J.K. Vernay||2||2||Running, 50/50||0|
|2010||7/25||Philip Major||10||10||Running, 50/50||0|
|2010||7/25||Pippa Mann||11||11||Running, 50/50||0|
|2009||7/25||James Hinchcliffe||4||4||Running, 50/50||0|
|2009||7/25||Wade Cunningham||12||6||Running, 50/50||0|
|2009||7/25||Ana Beatriz||10||12||Running, 49/50||0|
|2009||7/25||Gustavo Yacaman||14||16||Mechanical, 29/50||0|