Beatriz Wins Miller Lite 100 At Iowa Speedway

Iowa Speedway – June 20, 2009 – Ana Beatriz took advantage of Wade Cunningham’s problems with a lapped car Saturday night to win the Miller Lite 100 Indy Lights race at the Iowa Speedway, leading only the final nine laps on the tight 7/8th’s mile banked oval.

Beatriz, who has been out of the Lights series since a frightening crash at Indianapolis in May, stayed in the top five most of the night as Cunningham” Lucas Oil Dallara ran away with the bulk of the 115 lap, 100 mile race, leading 103 of those circuits.

“I was thinking and wanting to finish the race today. We started sixth, but it was great at the start of the race and we were very competitive. I was fortunate to find the right time to pass Wade (Cunningham),” said the Brazilian who is now a two-time series winner. “I can’t believe I got first and (car owner) Sam Schmidt got a 1-2-3 finish. “

Beatriz “fortunate” time to pass was due to Sebastian Saavedra’s early race suspension problems that saw him pit for repairs that took 23 laps to accomplish.

” He (Saavedra) was 25 laps down, running flat out because he had good tires. The team said to let him go; he’s just going to keep going forward,” noted a frustrated Cunningham who allowed Saavedra to go past with about 15 laps to go. “The minute he got in front of me, he slowed down half-a-second a lap because he knows I’m fighting him for the (series) Championship and he was out of the race. It’s probably the most unsportsmanlike thing I’ve ever seen on the race track. I hope the stewards do something, because if they don’t, I will.”

Race officials did radio Saavedra to pull off the track, but by that time Beatriz was in the lead and pulling away as Cunningham had all he could do to fend off James Hinchcliffe for second. Mario Romancini and Gustavo Yacaman rounded out the top five.

A scary incident occurred on lap 114 as the leaders were entering the second turn. Pippa Mann and James davison made contact in front of the leaders, with Mann hitting the SAFER barrier, ending up upside down on the backstretch. Mann, whose car was narrowly missed by the lead pack, climbed from her racer without assistance and was reported uninjured as the race concluded under caution.

Beatriz averaged 128.285mph as four caution flags slowed the field for 24 laps. Series’ points leader J.R. Hildebrand led the first three circuits from the pole as the race started under the yellow flag while officials monitored the wet spots on the track left from rain that had caused “weepers” to form on various spots on the track.

“I nearly crashed there at the end right there around the flipped car. At the finish, I was thinking it was unbelievable,” said the only female driver to win on the Lights circuit.

Race officials ordered her to a meeting after the Victory Lane celebration to discuss her driving around the wrecked racer of Mann. But no potential reprimand could spoil her victory. “This team deserves it. I really want to celebrate with them tonight. The last couple of weeks have been tough- missing out on sponsorship and then finding a way to come back.”

Saturday NOTES:
? Despite enduring almost 2 inches of rain at the Iowa Speedway earlier on Friday, the USAC Midget Series ran their Kellogg’s Klash 30- lap feature Friday night on the 7/8 mile banked oval. Bobby Santos III took the lead from pole -winner Brad Kuhn on lap nineteen and held off Kuhn on a lap 27 restart for the win. Kuhn finished second followed by Darren Hagen, Brad Sweet and Jerry Coons. Bobby East challenged Kuhn for the lead early in the event, but mechanical problems sidelined East.
? After a serious accident in the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis in May forced Ana Beatriz to sit out the Indy Lights Series event in Milwaukee, the Brazilian qualified her Healthy Choice/ Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara fourth for the Miller Lite 100 here on Saturday night. One of her managers is former Indy Car pilot Andre Ribeiro who put in a lot of his personal resources to secure Beatriz enough sponsorship to get her back on the track at Iowa, the scene of her first podium finish on an oval.
? Housby, a Des Moines, IA business conglomerate founded by Jack Housby, a former car owner for Ramo Stott in the now defunct USAC stock car division, is an associate sponsor for the A. J. Foyt entry for Sunday’s Indy Car race.
? The tires provided to the Indy Car teams by Firestone are the same compound used in the 2008 event here at Iowa. “The racing was much better last year than the year before, we believe, in great part because of the updated Firestone tire specification that we developed for the2008 event. Because of the uniqueness of the track- a short oval that demands a tire more like a superspeedway because of the constant high speeds and loads- this is the only venue where this Firehawk spec will be used this season,” said Firestone Racing director
? Shawn Johnson, Iowa’s 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion -and Al Speyer.2009 “Dancing With the Stars” champion will meet briefly Sunday with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves who also was DWTS winner in 2007.
? Qualifying for the Iowa Corn 250 was cancelled Saturday due to a persistent problem with water leaking through cracks on the track’s surface. The “weepers’ showed up in turn two and the backstretch due to torrential rains that hit the track Friday, soaking the speedway grounds. The Miller Lite 100 Indy Lights was run Saturday, though delayed an hour as track repairs moved the scheduled start. The Lights event saw a surprisingly large and patient crowd stick around for the delayed 9:00pm start.The race lineup for the twenty-car Indy Car field was decided by entrant points for the second straight year here.

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