Firestone Indy Lights series the window into the Future of IndyCar …

Posted: May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

By: Wm. R. LaDow

Published in the Post-Tribune, a Chicago Sun-Times Media Publication — May 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — The Firestone Indy Lights (FIL) Series has become the “window into the future” of IndyCar racing.

This year’s Indy 500 features 11 veterans of the INDYCAR-sanctioned Firestone Indy Lights competition in the field. They are Marco Andretti, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter, Bryan Clauson, Wade Cunningham, JR Hildebrand, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra.  There are also five other drivers: Townsend Bell, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Oriol Servia who had competed in Indy Lights before INDYCAR sanction.

The race here Friday is the Firestone Indy Lights series marquee event on their twelve race calendar.

On Friday, nineteen entrants will battle through the 40 lap-100 mile race that has catapulted several winners into the top-echelon of American open-wheel racing; IndyCar.

Ed Carpenter, Wade Cunningham and last year’s race winner (and season Champion) Josef Newgarden have all taken the Firestone Freedom 100 checkered flag and will now take the green flag on Sunday, for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

With a three-hour practice Thursday followed by qualifying for the Firestone Freedom 100 to be run on Friday, at 12:30 pm (Indianapolis time), the excitement for the race weekend is beginning to build.

What started as a controlled three-hour practice for Indy Lights cars to ready themselves for qualifying, quickly became unleashed, as cars began racing in packs of six, most of the time running two and three wide. Fastest during practice was the sole driver running both IndyCar races this weekend, Sebastian Saavedra of AFS/Andretti Autosport.

Gustavo Yacaman took the Pole in his No. 2 Team Moore Racing entry at a speed of 187.517 mph. This is Yacaman’s best start here at Indianapolis in his fourth Freedom 100.

This race comes at a critical time in the schedule as the teams are just coming off a six-week break. Saavedra of AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport leads the point standings by a point over rookie Tristan Vautier of Sam Schmidt Motorsports, with his teammate at Schmidt Motorsports; Esteban Guerrieri, who is just two points behind.

In the case of Saavedra of AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport, his Sunday race will be behind the wheel of Michael Andretti’s fourth car entered in this year’s 500. Should Saavedra be able to complete the two races, he would be the first driver to have raced both on the same weekend, twice. He completed the task in 2010 when he drove for Bryan Herta Autosport

Whether its Saavedra, Yacaman or some other young driver — racing in the heat of day Friday will be likely be some of the future stars of IndyCar.

Firestone Indy Lights Pole-Winner Gustavo Yacaman at speed at the IMS.

Firestone Indy Lights drivers mixing it up during practice at the Brickyard

Photos Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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