There have been eight different winners in as many Firestone Indy Lights races at Watkins Glen International. J.K. Vernay added his name to that list in the Corning 100.
Vernay, driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, overtook pole sitter James Hinchcliffe entering the "Bus Stop" on lap 19 of the 3.4-mile, 11-turn circuit and went on to his third victory of the season and strengthened his championship points lead.
Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car, finished 0.2135 of a second behind. It was the closest margin of victory of the season and the second closest on a road course in series history. It also was the fourth time in six races that the margin was less than a second.
Sebastian Saavedra, who won at Iowa Speedway on June 20, finished third in the No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport car and Martin Plowman was fourth in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing car for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport.
Vernay has led laps in three races this season – in his three victories. The series rookie won the first two events of the season and has finished on the podium in five of the six races. He takes a 37-point lead over Hinchcliffe into the race at Toronto in two weeks.
"It was a really hard race," said Vernay, 22, of France. "I didn't know the track when I arrived. It is so beautiful but so complicated. We improved practice after practice and, by the race, the car was fabulous. Three wins for a rookie is not bad."
Hinchcliffe led the field to the green flag on a lap 17 restart after the No. 28 car driven by Stefan Wilson, who started on the front row for the first time, dropped fluid on the racetrack. He was 0.9973sec ahead after 18 laps.
Hinchcliffe said his car slid on the remnants of the oil dry compound, which reduced his momentum climbing the hill entering the right-left turn combination.
"This was not the result we were looking for," said Hinchcliffe, who posted his third podium finish of the season. "There's no doubt that the No. 2 car was the fastest of the field. On that second lap of the restart I got into the (oil dry compound) put down for Stefan Wilson's motor. I said under caution that I was surprised that they were letting us go green with so much stuff on the track. I saw it, I knew it was there. I just tried not to drive down the inside of the track and get a good run. I got a bit sideways out of Turn 1 and gave JK the run. We were all over him at the end but there was nothing we could do. It was just unfortunate. My boys deserved better."
James Winslow, who started last in the field, climbed to fifth in the No. 77 Focal Point/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car (his highest finish of the season). Philip Major was sixth in the No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.
“We totally transformed the car for the race," Winslow said. "We didn't get many laps in practice and qualifying because of a sump problem. I ran over a curb and it lost all the oil. Full credit to the team for finding the setup. I found the car more comfortable and I was able to push."
Charlie Kimball, who was second in the standing entering the race, finished 11th. The No. 26 Levemir FlexPen car for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport experienced a broken fuel relay switch on the pace laps. It was replaced and he joined the race on lap 4.