There are occasions when drivers have no choice but to rise above the elements and conditions to get that little bit extra from the car – an example being Mark Webber when the Red Bull man drove the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix with a stomach bug and famously vomited into his helmet when on the team radio during a safety car period.
Martin Plowman had to endure just such conditions this week as the Staffordshire pilot came down with a stomach flu. Despite the discomfort, the 22-year-old planted his AFS / Andretti Autosport machine onto pole position for the Indy Lights Chicagoland 100 with a two-lap average of 189.503 mph, claiming the bonus point in the process. Alongside him is fellow Briton, Pippa Mann who secured her second front row in the series.
Last year’s Championship contender Sebastian Saavedra put his Bryan Herta Autosport car onto the second row, with Philip Major alongside him; both qualified ahead of current championship leader and title hunter, JK Vernay (5th) and Charlie Kimball (6th).
Gustavo Yacaman planted his Cape Motorsports car on the inside of the fourth row, with Indy Lights returnee Brandon Wagner on the outside. Wagner wasn’t the only driver to reappear this week – Dillon Battistini made his first Lights appearance since the end of 2008 placing in 9th and Arie Luyendyk Jr steps in at Alliance Motorsport in place of Shane Hmiel, qualifying a lowly 14th. Stefan Wilson (10th) comes back after missing Sonoma with funding issues.
Near the rear of the field, ‘Speedy’ Dan Clarke and Adrian Campos Jr filled out the sixth row, while Championship challenger James Hinchcliffe had a dreadful session, qualifying all the way down in 13th. Rodrigo Barbosa’s dire weekend continued – near or on the bottom of the time sheets in practice, the Brazilian found himself last and a long way off the pace in qualifying.
Firestone Indy Lights Chicagoland 100 at Chicagoland Speedway
SP Car Driver Car Name Entrant Time Speed
1 27 Martin Plowman AFS / Andretti Autosport 57.7510 189.503
2 11 Pippa Mann Sam Schmidt Motorsports 57.7691 189.444
3 29 Sebastian Saavedra Bryan Herta Autosport 57.9118 188.977
4 49 Philip Major (R) Sam Schmidt Motorsports 57.9742 188.774
5 7 J.K. Vernay (R) Sam Schmidt Motorsports 58.0347 188.577
6 26 Charlie Kimball AFS / Andretti Autosport 58.0628 188.486
7 10 Gustavo Yacaman Cape Motorsport 58.1744 188.124
8 32 Brandon Wagner Davey Hamilton Racing 58.2079 188.016
9 35 Dillon Battistini Team PBIR 58.2190 187.980
10 28 Stefan Wilson (R) Bryan Herta Autosport 58.3553 187.541
11 40 Dan Clarke (R) Walker Racing 58.3794 187.463
12 22 Adrian Campos Jr. (R) Team Moore Racing 58.4052 187.381
13 2 James Hinchcliffe Team Moore Racing 58.4914 187.104
14 24 Arie Luyendyk Jr. Alliance Motorsports 58.8925 185.830
15 18 Rodrigo Barbosa PDM Racing 59.5351 183.827
Firestone Indy Lights Championship (after Qualifying)
1 7 J.K. Vernay (R) Sam Schmidt Motorsports 412
2 2 James Hinchcliffe Team Moore Racing 341
3 26 Charlie Kimball AFS / Andretti Autosport 327
4 27 Martin Plowman AFS / Andretti Autosport 321
5 29 Sebastian Saavedra Bryan Herta Autosport 284
6 40 Dan Clarke (R) Walker Racing 241