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Firestone Indy Lights: Grand Prix of Alabama

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of Alabama

Firestone Indy Lights: Grand Prix of Alabama

Charlie Kimball
Sebastian Saavedra
J.K. Vernay
April 11, 2010


BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by today's top three finishers from the Firestone Indy Lights race, J.K. Vernay who started from the pole for his second consecutive race win of the year. His previous win was a few weeks ago on the streets of St. Petersburg. We're also joined by Charlie Kimball who finished second place. This is a career best Firestone Indy Lights finish for Charlie. And, finally, we have Sebastian Saavedra who gained one position today to finish third.
Guys, if you can share your thoughts on today's race with the warmer temperatures we're experiencing today. Starting here with Sebastian?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: For me, it was a great race. I would say that we needed the points. We came in from St. Pete a bit disappointed about knowing how good of a car we had. I think the complete 29 crew with William Rast did an incredible job.
And we're right now in the right momentum to go again into Long Beach. This is good points for us, and we'll just try to keep it up.
It was a tough race. A crazy start where we didn't know what was going on, but from the first lap we just kept a good pace, and each lap the track was getting harder and harder, making it a lot more difficult.
So it was for sure physical at the end, trying to maintain the car in the right pace with the front guys and the back guys. But I'm very happy for the complete 29 crew, and we needed these points.
THE MODERATOR: For J.K., obviously, this is your second career start in Firestone Indy Lights, and you've scored your second win. Tell us your thoughts about the momentum you have going on right now.
J.K. VERNAY: It was a very good race. My start wasn't so good, but after we were ahead and ready to push. And the car was just great. The car was great at the beginning, middle, and at the end of the race. I was always able to push and to do a good gap with Charlie.
No, it was a good race for us. We just have to continue to work like that and to do the same next weekend.
THE MODERATOR: A career best finish for you. Can you talk about the jump you got to start the race there on J.K.?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Obviously, at the start of the race, we came out of the last corner, and I was waiting for J.K. to get on it before I did. And I went, and I don't know if he backed out or what. I think Martin even ran into the back of J.K., so I'm not sure quite what happened.
But from upstairs I can see maybe how they made that call. When he takes off, all you can do is go with him.
But my race was good from there. You know, when you're out front, you obviously have clean air and that makes a huge difference the way the car handles as hot as the track is.
Even behind J.K. in traffic, the 26 Levemir FlexPen car was quick. I think we were sort of pacing each other, staying tight. Knowing that I couldn't run right up behind him because of the downforce. But it was just running together.
He tried to get a gap, and I could close that down, run a couple of quick laps and close that down. I was just waiting for a mistake, because honestly there is not a huge opportunity to pass around here.
All credit to him, he ran 35 laps or 30 laps at green with no mistakes. Not big enough for me to capitalize on, at least, even as close as I was.
I mean, it means a lot being the first driver with diabetes on the podium. I've really got to thank Levemir and Novo a lot. And everyone at Novo Nordisk for their partnership this year. It's been a lot of fun, and it's just going to get better.

Q. When you tried to get the jump there or tried to get a good start at the beginning, did you know that was going to be key because of the lack of passing places? Is that why you tried to get up there?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, the start's always important at a race. Starts and restarts and we're focused on both of those. And even on the second restart, J.K. was trying to get a good jump. I don't know if he was trying to clean his tires up. There were a lot of marbles out there.
Under the safety car, the full course yellow we got a lot of pick-up. So there was a lot of acceleration and deceleration. So I'm not sure exactly what was going on.
But you have to focus on the start, and turn one is a hairy corner side by side. So I wanted to make sure I had a good start to tuck in ahead of my teammate Martin and Sebastian, because I knew they were going to be quick throughout the race. I just had to make sure if I couldn't get J.K. into one, I had to spot back into second and run for the podium.

Q. Obviously at this level, confidence is key because you want to make the move to the top rung of the ladder. But did you allow yourself to think you were going to be 2-0 in the first two starts in the series?
J.K. VERNAY: That's a good question. No, for sure I was confident that we'd be able to do well since the beginning of the championship. To say yes, for sure we'd win the first two races, no, nobody can say that.
So I'm just very happy because everything worked well. I worked well with my team, my engine, the crew, everything. I really like the racing in motorsports in the U.S. I'm really happy to be here. And I think it's important.
But for sure, no, I was not able to say I win the first two race. Because level in Indy Lights it's very high, and you have to work very hard if you want to get the pole or win the race.

Q. Can you give me your evaluation of the track facilities of the weekend in general? What your thoughts of this place is?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, I think that -- I don't know about the other two. I can't speak for them, but I speak for my whole team -- we've really enjoyed being down here. The facility is fantastic.
George Barber has done an amazing job managing the crowd. I was blown away by how big the crowd was on Friday. The facilities are just beautiful, the grounds.
The racetrack itself is a tremendous amount of fun to drive. It's a little more difficult to race just because it is so technical and so challenging, but that makes it a lot of fun to drive. So it's a solid tradeoff, and can't wait to come back next year.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: Yes, I would say that for sure the facilities are by far one of the nicest facilities I've seen in a long time. The racetrack itself is just very fun to drive, very fun to roll. I think it's the closest to a European track you'll ever get. It's just a great experience, you know, going up-and-down all the time.
It's a bit hard to do some passing, but that makes it a little bit -- gives a little bit of spice to the races because the ones who passes are the guys that have to be the most intelligent. So it's for sure a very nice track, and I'm very, very happy to be here.
J.K. VERNAY: It's really nice. I really like this track for practice or qualifying, because it's very challenging. You have fast corners, fast chicanes, and corners, you have everything, both up and downhill. So it's a really challenging track.
After like Sebastian and Charlie said, it's not so easy to overtake. And maybe for sure it's not the best track for races, but I really like this track.
Lot of people came here to see us. The spirit was good. It's always good for us when you see people around the track not just for me but for the race.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the podium finish.



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