Vernay goes wire to wire for fourth win

By Dave Lewandowski

TORONTO – Race leader J.K. Vernay was anticipating a final-lap maneuver by James Hinchcliffe in an attempt to swipe the checkered flag in the Toronto 100. Instead, Vernay noticed in his mirrors that Hinchcliffe’s car was headed for the Turn 5 tire barrier.

Vernay, driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, led all 50 laps in recording his fourth victory of the Firestone Indy Lights season and increase his championship points lead.

“I didn’t take risks because I had the chance to lead and didn’t have to pass,” said Vernay, who has stood on the podium in six of the seven races. “But I’m not focused on the championship. My goal is to win the championship, for sure. But I prefer to be focused race after race, great qualifying, because on the road courses it is really important. If you start on pole, second, the first two rows, really it’s a big deal.

“I really wanted to win here because I know that on the road track, on the city track, I’m really quick. I finished second in the World Cup in F3 for a rookie in my car. I know that I’m confident.”

Dan Clarke, driving the No. 40 Wasteco Deans Knight Special, was second (his best finish of the season) and Gustavo Yacaman finished third (also a season best) in the No. 10 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry.

“We really were struggling at the beginning of the year. It’s a new car, new team, but we did a great job this weekend,” Yacaman said. “Everyone on the team worked together and succeeded as a team, which is the way to go. This race is really challenging. It’s a really long race and physically challenging. You’re just bouncing off of every wall and so close to them. I’ve never been closer to the wall in my life before, not even on an oval. But I’m just really excited. The car was really good and the guys just did an overall awesome job.”

Vernay was pursued by fellow front-row starter Hinchcliffe throughout – leading by 1.1112 seconds on Lap 35 following a Lap 33 restart and by 2.6053 seconds on Lap 48. On the final lap, Hinchcliffe outbraked himself entering Turn 3 with Clarke and Yacaman capitalizing. Entering Turn 5, Hinchcliffe’s No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car got the short end of bumping with the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen car driven by Charlie Kimball.

Kimball went on to fourth place, with Stefan Wilson fifth in the No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport car. Toni Kasemets, competing in his second Firestone Indy Lights race, finished sixth in the No. 5 Andersen Racing Flexofit Allied car.

“It was a really long, hard, hot race,” Kimball said. “The No. 26 Levemir car was good from green to checkered. I could fight all day. Except for a mechanical issue during qualifying (started seventh), we were in the top five all weekend. On to Edmonton and, if not a win, definitely a podium finish.”

AFS Racing Andretti Autosport teammate Martin Plowman recovered from a broken front wing assembly early in the race to finish seventh. Pippa Mann finished eighth in the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, while Rodrigo Barbosa was ninth in the No. 18 PDM Racing car.


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