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Firestone Indy Lights: Drive Smart Buckle-Up Kentucky 100

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Drive Smart Buckle-Up Kentucky 100

Firestone Indy Lights: Drive Smart Buckle-Up Kentucky 100

James HinchcliffeJ.K. Vernay
September 4, 2010


SPARTA, KENTUCKY

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with today's post-race press conference. We are joined by our second and third place finishers, James Hinchcliffe of Team Moore racing, and JK Vernay of Sam Schmidt Motorsports. James finished second, his seventh podium of the 2010 season. He's only finished outside the Top 10 once this year. JK finished third and now leads James by 48 points in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship. By simply starting the next race at Homestead Miami Speedway, JK will clinch the Championship.
Talk about today's race starting with James. You did everything you could to hold off JK there.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I mean, it was -- good start to the race. We had obviously set up our car to run well in traffic because we started in sixth in the third row there and were able to make some moves early and then after that restart got Martin, but it was tough track conditions out there today. It was sort of tough for everybody to hold their lines, so it took me a while to get by Martin. And by the time I had, Pippa had already opened up a decent gap and I wasn't getting much of a draft off her. Since my car was sort of set up run in traffic, we maybe had a bit more downforce on.
Obviously she had a quick car, she qualified on pole for a reason. So when it was just her in clean air versus me in clean air, there was just no way we were going to catch her. I pooled around for 67 laps waiting for a caution to come out that never came.
No, credit to her, she did a great job and congrats to the whole Schmidt team. Obviously they had some really quick race cars today. And then also thanks to my guys for giving me a good car. I mean, sometimes you have the second best car out there and you have a second place day, so that's something we've got to be happy with.
THE MODERATOR: And for JK, finishing third today on the 1.5 mile oval, how much confidence is that giving you on these types of tracks?
JK VERNAY: I'm really happy. The car was great. It was a very good start. I was able to overtake Charlie, and after James overtook me, so at the restart, yeah, we lose time, the same thing as James said, too much time behind Martin, and James was gone. So it was extra difficult because we were alone out there together, so it was really boring because it's so easy to do anything but not so exciting.
Yeah, after that I managed to get with Adrian Campos, who was just behind me, but not easy I have to say the last ten laps. But I did it. I'm really happy. The car was great.
I really want to congratulate Pippa because she is working hard since the beginning of the year and on the ovals she's really quick, so she deserved to win today. Yeah, thanks to the Lucas Oil Car, Sam Schmidt guys. They did a great job this year, an amazing job.
So yeah, we'll see in Miami. I don't have a lot of pressure, I just have to take the car to win the Championship. So I will try everything to win in Miami. It will not be easy, but yeah, now I have no pressure, I don't have to think about the Championship anymore, so we'll see there.

Q. James, talk about what your plans are for the off season.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: After the season ends I plan on going on vacation. But then that will probably be for about four days and then it's back to work. We don't -- the term off-season is maybe a little bit misleading because for us the work never really stops.
I started back in March laying plans for 2011, and for sure the goal is to move up to IndyCar. I've had two years now in Indy Lights, obviously had a pretty solid year this year and was able to get a couple wins and had a lot of fun battling with JK, but it's time to make that jump. So we've been, like I said, laying the groundwork for a bunch of months now, and as soon as the season ends in Miami the real work again really starts. It's trying to secure that sponsorship, and the conversations with IndyCar teams have been ongoing since about May. And it's just -- every ounce of effort and every waking moment I've got is going to be geared toward trying to get myself into the IZOD IndyCar Series for next year.
JK VERNAY: I have the same goal as James. I want to go to IndyCar next year. We'll see. I hope I will be able to be in Miami to be champion, to win this title for sure. It would be nice to go to IndyCar. For the moment we are already speaking with a few teams. We wanted to be sure that we would win the Championship because it's not finished yet. We are still thinking about it. Like my mother said, you have to pass the last checkered flag of the last race before it's over, so that's what I will do.
I'm confident for next year. I'm really want to go to IndyCars. It's one of my dreams. You can have a lot more fun in America than Europe. The atmospheres are great. I love to live here, to race here. It's just way better.
I've never been branded as a driver in Europe because it's too complex. Everybody is a bit more pretentious. It's really hard. Here everybody is more cool, very relaxed. The level of professionalism is the same, just everybody is, yeah, more friendly, and I really like it. So I hope to spend two years here for sure and to go to IndyCar next year.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: You know, I've done a lot of races in my life, and I've learned a lot of lessons, and I've dealt with situations like this before, and you learn quite young in your career to not let things from the past really weigh on you because all it does it pull you down in the future.
No, for sure there are some things that happened this year that didn't go the way we planned, and I think ultimately there maybe came a point in the season where I actually, rather than taking the sort of one-weekend-at-a-time approach started thinking long-term, and I think that actually might have hurt us a little bit. I think that's when things started creeping up that sort of got our focus off just doing the best job that weekend.
You know, if anything I don't look back with any regrets on the way we approached it. I think we did what we had to do and we took a small team, and now we're up there fighting with the giants of Schmidt and Andretti Autosport, so I think there's a lot to take out of the season from that respect.
It's been so much fun working with Mark Moore and the whole team, and it's really a close family there, and for us, like I say, to have taken the team from one podium last year, one victory in the last five years to four poles, three wins, a bunch of podiums and running with these guys for the Championship, I think there's a lot to be proud of there.
Definitely some lessons learned, maybe some things on how to approach certain weekends that have come up, and that's why I think more than ever I'm more prepared now to make that jump.
THE MODERATOR: James, JK, congratulations on the podium. We'll see you guys in a few weeks at Homestead.

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