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Newgarden Leads 1-2 Schmidt Sweep In Wild Firestone Freedom 100

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Josef Newgarden says the strong showing by Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the Firestone Freedom 100 is a good omen for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500, which has SSM’s Alex Tagliani on the pole.

That would be another record.

Newgarden’s victory under caution in the 40-lap Firestone Indy Lights race in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, coupled with the second-place finish by Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Esteban Guerrieri, was the first 1-2 finish by teammates in the race’s history.

"It's an unbelievable achievement for the team," said Newgarden, of Nashville, Tenn., the first American to win the race since Ed Carpenter prevailed in inaugural race in 2003. "I'm so grateful, and I have to thank Esteban because he helped me the whole race. It's not really the way I wanted to win it, but I'll take it."

An incident Lap 34 involving the No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing Special of Jorge Goncalvez and the No. 9 Liberty Engineering Racing Special of teammate Anders Krohn prevented the race to be completed under green.

The cars were running three-wide with the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/CURB Records/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car entering Turn 1 of the 2.5-mile oval when Krohn's car -- running on the bottom of the racetrack -- spun and made contact with the outside wall. Goncalvez's car, in the middle of the pack, spun almost simultaneously and made initial right-side contact with the SAFER Barrier. It then darted across the track and made heavy contact with the inside wall.

Goncalvez was alert and was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital for evaluation and was released later. Krohn was checked and cleared at the IU Health Emergency Care Center.

“I’m so disappointed for the guys as Belardi Auto Racing because we really had the fastest car today,” said Krohn, who led seven laps. “It would have been the easiest thing to at least be on the podium or potentially win the race. We could run up, down low; it didn’t matter. At the same time I think we’ve shown people where our speed is so hopefully we can come back next year and dominate this race.”

Newgarden, starting on the front row, overtook pole sitter Bryan Clauson entering Turn 1 at the start and led Victor Garcia, who started fourth in the No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car, by .0100 of a second.

By the completion of Lap 5, there were four other passes for the lead (Krohn’s car nosing ahead at the start/finish line). Newgarden regained the point for good on Lap 15, though Guerrieri was constantly in position to pounce on an opportunity.

“It was fun for a while and a bit slow the rest of the race,” Guerrieri said. “It was a lot of yellows, we didn’t expect so many, but I’m happy to win second of course. What we were trying to do was work with my teammate Josef to try to pull away and make the gap larger toward third. Then we could finish the race like me and him to race against each other, but unfortunately all the guys crashed.”

Newgarden, who also won the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., took over the championship points lead with 151. Guerrieri has 125 and Stefan Wilson, who finished fourth in the No. 5 Andretti Autosport car, has 121.

“The team was able to make me quick and I got up to speed right away,” Newgarden said. “This is the biggest win I think I have ever had. To win the Firestone Freedom 100 in front of this crowd at this famous racetrack is incredible. This has been a really fun experience trying to come in and absorb all of the information that my team has to offer.”

Garcia finished third and Bryan Clauson, the reigning USAC National Drivers Championship title holder, was fifth in his first Firestone Indy Lights start.

“I’m pretty happy to all my crew and I have to thank all of them because although we haven’t had a normal weekend it has been really good and we finished third,” said Garcia of the rain that canceled qualifications May 26 and set the 18-car grid by entrant points. “I think we could have won because we had what it takes to win, but we didn’t have the laps to do it.”


2011 Indianapolis 500 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, “The Most Important Race in History,” on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Race Day ticket prices start at just $30. Fans can buy tickets online at, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or by visiting the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.

Children 12 and under will be receive free general admission to any IMS event in 2011 when accompanied by an adult general admission ticket holder.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.

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