IndyCar » 2 August 2009
Cunningham wins Kentucky Lights race.
Wade Cunningham claimed victory in the 100th Indy Lights race of the modern era by passing Sebastian Saavedra for the lead with twelve laps remaining in the Kentucky 100.
The Kiwi completed the move exiting turn two on lap 55, and was still in front when the safety car appeared to cover a spin for Sam Schmidt team-mate James Hinchcliffe on lap 64. Cunningham, driving the #11 Lucas Oil-backed Schmidt car, won under caution after the lap 66 restart was waived off and the chequer came out next time around.
"It was a difficult race, even when I was in the lead those last 25-28 laps," the former champion noted, having also led from laps 43-52, "Sebastian had a very strong car, and the car behind him dropped into a taller gear. That's how I got him, but I knew he was going to be able to make a run. He was pushing his car in a way that maybe may have damaged his front tyres, because he wasn't as strong over the last ten laps as he was before, and I was able to take advantage of that."
Saavedra, driving the #27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc car for AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing, finished second for a third consecutive top five result, strengthening his challenge for the title on a day when team-mate, and points leader, JR Hildebrand failed to complete the opening lap.
"I'm very happy," the Colombian commented, "We scored some very important points. The car was great, and the whole AGR/AFS Racing team did an incredible job. We were just doing as planned, trying to be side-by-side with Wade at the start-finish, but that yellow flag just made everything impossible. We're still in the same position in the points for the championship and I'm looking forward to Mid-Ohio."
Ana Beatriz posted her fifth top five finish in the #20 Healthy Choice machine to give Sam Schmidt Motorsports a 1-3 finish after bouncing back from disappointing recent non-oval results.
"We got speed on the straight and I was able to overtake for first position, but I couldn't hold it," the Brazilian said, having led for a couple of laps approaching half-distance, "It seems like the other cars just had more power at the exit of corners, and that's why we lost it. But we had a top ten, passed a lot of people, got a podium and I think it was a great day. I couldn't be happier for my team."
James Davison was fourth for Vision Racing to take the chequer for the 17th consecutive Indy Lights race. The Australian now sits just one off the series record held by Nick Bussell as he continues his personal resurgence in this year's series.
"I'm really happy with our performance," he admitted, "It is a big development for us as a first year team in this series to have a competitive run on a mile-and-a-half oval with the top teams. We have to be satisfied with that. We weren't the fastest car. We were fourth and fifth the majority of the race, but it is a good result and something to build on."
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