INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012) – Maximum points! That’s what any driver who is in the thick of a championship battle dreams of heading into a race weekend.
For Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) driver Tristan Vautier, his dream came true this past weekend when he earned 53 points, the most one driver can earn during a Firestone Indy Lights race, at the Grand Prix of Baltimore.
By earning one point for winning the Sunoco Pole Award on Saturday, 50 points for winning Sunday’s 35-lap race and two bonus points for leading the most laps, Vautier vaulted back around teammate Esteban Guerreiri to take an 11-point lead into the season-ending race in Fontana, Calif., next week.
Vautier won the Grand Prix of Baltimore in dominating fashion by beating Team Moore’s Gustavo Yacaman by 15.3783 seconds. The French driver also won the pole for the race by eight-tenths of a second over Guerrieri.
To his credit, Guerrieri rallied late in the race Sunday to finish on the podium in third after he had fallen back to fifth place midway through the race. Baltimore is the Argentinian’s eighth podium finish in 2012.
Britain’s Oliver Webb finished sixth for SSM in Baltimore. Webb started fourth, but early race contact with another car damaged his front right wing, severely impacting the handling of his car.
SSM’s fourth Firestone Indy lights driver, Victor Carbone, did not start the Grand Prix of Baltimore after an accident on Saturday destroyed his car.
Vautier is now perfect in Baltimore as he won on the street circuit in 2011 in the Star Mazda series.
The final Firestone Indy Lights event is Sept. 15, 2012 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
SSM Driver Quotes
Tristan Vautier (Finished 1st), Driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM with Curb-Agajanian Dallara: “This win feels great. From the start of the weekend, the car was hooked-up. It felt great at the start, and I could pull away so I could save my tires. The Firestone tires were amazing, and I never had a problem with them during the race. I’d like to thank Sam and Mazda for putting me in the car this weekend. We scored lots of points, so that was very good for us with an oval at Fontana coming up next. We have to stay focused and arrive ready at California. Today was a great win on a track that was very exciting and quite physical but a good race for us. We’re all quite happy.”
Esteban Guerrieri (Finished 3rd), Driver of the No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM with Curb-Agajanian Dallara: “Today’s race wasn’t the best one. We were lacking pace. Basically, since Trois Rivieres, we are not quick on the race pace and we didn’t have it here. Basically, I’m not really happy. Obviously you want to fight for positions and go to the front, but it didn’t work out. It’s good to finish the race though and in the end get the podium. In the points, I still get a shot at Fontana, but it’s not the way you want to do it. I want to be quick and go forward, and it’s not working. We have to sit down and realize that what is done is done, but we’re still going to push for the last one for sure.”
Oliver Webb (Finished 6th), Driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil/SSM Dallara: “Initially it felt good, but it’s unfortunate that the front wing got broken so early or even at all. I had a decent start initially, then (Gustavo) Yacaman did a, whether it was a good or bad move, whatever it is, a move that worked. It pushed me to go three wide. Unfortunately, I was on the outside and that’s not where you want to be around that corner. I could have either crashed or gone a little later and lost the positions I did. It’s disappointing. I worked my way back up through the field and I started to have some real, real problems. We’re going to have a look at it later on. I probably damaged the wing, but I just couldn’t stop the car.”
DATE: Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012
EVENT: Grand Prix of Baltimore
SERIES: Firestone Indy Lights Series
LOCATION: Baltimore, Maryland (2.04-mile, 13-turn street circuit)
WINNER: Tristan Vautier of Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Tristan Vautier (Started 1st, Finished 1st/Running, completed 35 of 35 laps)
Esteban Guerrieri (Started 2nd, Finished 3rd/Running, completed 35 of 35 laps)
Oliver Webb (Started 4th, Finished 6th/Running, completed 35 of 35 laps)