SPARTA, Ky. – Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Pippa Mann became the first female racer to earn a Kentucky Speedway victory by leading all 67 laps of this afternoon’s Firestone Indy Lights “Drive Smart. Buckle-Up Kentucky 100.”
The 27-year-old from Ipswich, England, who became the third female competitor to take a Kentucky Speedway open-wheel race pole award yesterday, set sail when the green flag waved and built a 3.5563 seconds lead over Team Moore Racing driver James Hinchcliffe by Lap 30.
Mann was only threatened by a Lap 3 caution brought out by a three-car incident involving Stefan Wilson, Daniel Herrington and Philip Major, but restarted strong, thundered through the remainder of the 100 racing miles and became the fourth FIL driver to earn a Kentucky Speedway victory from the pole position when her No. 11 machine soared across the finish line an FIL track-record 6.8372 seconds ahead of Hinchcliffe in the No. 2 Team Moore Racing car.
“I joked yesterday that I was going to run away and hide today, but I didn’t really think it would happen. I got my legs underneath me, started pedaling and no one could catch me. Last week at Chicagoland, it was fast racing, but this is a handling track. You have to set the car up to run the fastest line and we focused on that. If we got into deep traffic today, I don’t think we could’ve run as well, but we took a little bit of a gamble on the set up and it paid off. Hinch beat me last week and this week the tables were turned,” Mann said.
She seizes her first career Firestone Indy Lights victory and her second consecutive top-two finish this season.
Hinchcliffe took his ninth top-five and 11th top-10 finish this season through 12 starts. He has placed in a race top-10 for the 10th consecutive time this season.
“It was a good start to the race for us and we had a car that set up well to run in traffic for the tough track conditions. We had a little bit more downforce, but once Pippa broke away it was her in clean air versus me in clean air and I couldn’t catch her. Sometimes you have the second-best car and it’s a second-place day. That’s what we got,” Hinchcliffe said.
Series championship leader J.K. Vernay took third in the No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports machine, Adrian Campos, Jr., rolled across the finish line fourth in the No. 22 Team Moore Racing car and Gustavo Yacaman completed the top five in Sam Schmidt Motorsports No. 10. Vernay need only successfully start the Oct. 2 Firestone Indy Lights season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch the 2010 title.
IndyCar Series competitor Sarah Fisher generated the previous best Kentucky Speedway finish by a female racer when she placed third on Aug. 27, 2000. Fisher still holds the IndyCar Series Kentucky qualifying record she set with a 221.390-mph (24.0661 seconds) lap on August 10, 2002. Series mate Danica Patrick earned a Kentucky IndyCar Series pole award with a fast 217.516-mph (24.4947 seconds) practice lap after traditional qualifying was rained out August 13, 2005.
The IZOD IndyCar Series “Kentucky Indy 300” is up next at the track at 8:45 p.m.