Junior Open Wheel Talent

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Brandon Wagner wins at Homestead-Miami, JK Vernay Wins Championship

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted October 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm Indy Lights

Brandon Wagner
(Photo: IndyCar.com)

Brandon Wagner has qualified at the front of a Firestone Indy Lights field before, he won the 2009 pole position at Chicago; but glory was limited to qualifying.  He failed to finish last year’s Chicagoland 100 after starting from pole.  Not today.  Wagner, 23, driving for Davey Hamilton Racing, qualified a solid third for today’s Homestead-Miami Indy Lights race and managed the opening lap perfectly to take over the race lead.  He led all but one lap to earn his first career win in 13 starts.  His previous best finish was eighth place.

Today’s race was his fifth start of the 2010 season.  After claiming the lead in the opening lap, Wagner swapped spots with Canadian James Hinchcliffe, but refused to relinquish the overall lead at the stripe.

“It feels great,” exclaimed Wagner after the 67-lap race. “I had to adjust the front bar just a little bit, but it was great running with someone [Hinchcliffe] I know and trust.”

The feeling was mutual.

“It was awesome,” Hinchcliffe said.  “I tried everything I could.  All the credit goes to Brandon, though, he ran a clean race. The track conditions were a bit tricky and threw us some curve balls.”

Perennial front runner Wade Cunningham — who won the 2010 Indianapolis Freedom 100 — finished third.  Adrian Campos Jr. piloted his Team Moore entry up to fourth place in today’s Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka 100 after starting tenth.  Pole winner Pippa Mann rounded out the top-five.

Daniel Herrington drove to a seventh place finish after starting 14th to earn hard charger honors.

Meanwhile, J.K. Vernay, quietly finished 15th after starting the race 13th.  Despite the disappointing finish, Vernay claimed the overall championship by taking the green flag.  The soon-to-be 23-year-old Frenchman concluded the season with five wins, nine podiums, three pole positions, and 11 top-ten finishes in 13 starts.

“It was a good decision to come to America,” Vernay said before today’s Indy Lights race. “My goal is to move up to IndyCar next year.  I’m confident, but you never know what will happen.  IndyCar is what I really want to do.”

The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights schedule is expected to be released within the next couple weeks.  Make the jump for the full results from today’s race.

Firestone Indy Lights
Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka 100
Homestead-Miami Speedway Results

  1. Brandon Wagner
  2. James Hinchcliffe
  3. Wade Cunningham
  4. Adrian Campos Jr.
  5. Pippa Mann
  6. Martin Plowman
  7. Daniel Herrington
  8. Philip Major
  9. Dillon Battistini
  10. Sean Guthrie
  11. Henry Clarke (debut start)
  12. Arie Luyendyk Jr.
  13. Charlie Kimball
  14. Rodrigo Barbosa
  15. J.K. Vernay
  16. Gustavo Yacaman
  17. Dan Clarke (DNF)
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