Notching his fourth top-five finish of the season,  Argentinian Esteban Guerrieri’s fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Toronto 100 was also the best for the four-car Sam Schmidt Motorsports Firestone Indy Lights team at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario.

Driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil car, Guerrieri had to fight his way back up to fourth after an early spin dropped him to the tail of the field. He was leading the race when he spun in turn three on lap 20. Guerrieri did not make contact with the wall nor another car and was quickly back up to speed.

Under green flag conditions, he chased down the field and made the climb to fourth before the final yellow flag on lap 46 that forced the race to end under caution. During his drive through the pack, Guerrieri set a blistering pace and was the fastest car on the track. His time on lap 45 (1:04.0124) was the fastest lap of the race.

It was a frustrating day for the rest of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports Indy Lights team.

Series point leader Josef Newgarden was running in third place when contact with the car of Andretti Autosports’ Peter Dempsey damaged the front wing on his No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong car. He was forced to pit to replace the wing and lost a lap to the leaders. Newgarden finished eighth. 

Brazilian Victor Carbone was not without his troubles as well. He had to pit on lap two to have the left front tire changed on the No. 3 Nevoni car after contact with Team Jensen’s David Ostella caused a puncture. Carbone finished ninth and one lap down to the leaders.

In his first start of the year driving the No. 77 Mazda Road To Indy car for SSM, Daniel Herrington had the roughest day of the four Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers. Herrington, from Raleigh, N.C., made contact on lap 16 with Herta Autosport’s Bruno Andrade. Heavy damage to both cars ended their days. Herrington was scored in 12th.

After Guerrieri’s spin, Andretti Autosport’s Sefan Wilson dominated the rest of the Toronto 100 to claim his first Firestone Indy Lights Championship series win. His teammate, Dempsey, finished second making it an Andretti Autosport sweep. It was Dempsey’s first start for Andretti.

Team Moore’s Gustavo Yacaman finished third, while Guerrieri and Anders Krohn rounded out the top five, matching his best finish in Indy Lights.

There were three caution periods for 9 laps and two race leaders (Guerrieri and Wilson).

Despite his rough day, Newgarden continues to lead the Firestone Indy Lights Championship points chase over Guerrieri (267-229). With his win, Wilson is now just eight points (221) behind Guerrieri. Carbone is 10th in points after six races with 154, while Herrington is 21st after his lone race.

The next two Firestone Indy Lights Series races are part of the Edmonton Indy weekend at the Edmonton (Alberta) City Centre Airport July 23-24.

 

Esteban Guerrieri (Finished 1st), Driver of the No.7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:

“It was the low tire pressures. It takes at least one and up to two laps to get the pressures up. I got a bit of understeer in the entry to (turn) three, and when I got on the power it just came around. It was really stupid, but I just lost the rear. We had even been practicing with low tire pressures and to push hard. But apparently, we didn’t practice enough so we will continue working on it.”

Josef Newgarden (Finished 2nd), Driver of the No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:

“At first, I thought it was great racing. Everyone was giving each other room and being nice. If anything, it’s a big learning experience for me this weekend. I can already guess what advice Sam (Schmidt) is going to give me. I probably should have known, with Esteban spinning, to be conservative and score some points. I really thought I had a great run and was trying to run Peter clean. I also thought he was running me clean and then he just ran out of road there when I was going to the inside of him. It was a shame to lose the front wing like that when it was a race where there were good points to be had.”

Victor Carbone (Finished 6th), Driver of the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:

“I had contact with Ostella. It was small, but it was enough to puncture my tire, so I had to come in and change my tire (left front). After that, the car got better and toward the end it was the closest I’d been to the top guys lap time-wise.” 

Daniel Herrington (Finished 4th), Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara:

“At the start, we were struggling with understeer. I had gone full soft on the front bar to try and get more grip. Then, on that restart there, we just washed out an inch too wide. I’d come close a couple laps before. We’ll go back and look at it and try to figure out how we can be better in Edmonton.”

Date:                          July 10, 2011

Event:                        Toronto 100 (Round 7 of 13)

Series:                       Firestone Indy Lights Series

Location:                  Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario (1.755-mile street course)

Winner:                    Stefan Wilson of Andretti Autosports

SSM Team:              Esteban Guerrieri       (Started 1st, Finished 4th / Running, completed 49 of 49 laps)

                                    Josef Newgarden       (Started 5th, Finished 8th/ Running, completed 48 of 49 laps)

                                    Victor Carbone          (Started 10th, Finished 9th / Running, completed 48 of 49 laps)

                                    Daniel Herrington      (Started 7th, Finished 12th / Accident, completed 12 of 49 laps)