Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Pippa Mann became the third female competitor to take a Kentucky Speedway open-wheel race pole award today by ripping off a two-lap 190.474-mph (55.9447 seconds) average during qualifying for tomorrow afternoon's Firestone Indy Lights "Drive Smart. Buckle-Up Kentucky 100."

The 27-year-old driver from Ipswich, England continues an oval-track racing roll that began last week at Chicagoland Speedway, where she grabbed her FIL career-best second-place finish after starting second.

"This morning when we were testing, the track was really, really, green. It was a little bit difficult to know what to put on the cars for qualifying. I'm extremely lucky that I have a really great team. Both of my teammates went out before me, both came back with valuable information. Indy Lights cars have tools in them and I was able to use my in-car tools when on the track to adjust the car a tiny bit and I guess we just sneaked it and got it just right. We've had some really great runs with some great form," Mann said.

Female competitors Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick won previous race pole awards for IZOD IndyCar Series races at Kentucky Speedway. Fisher set the standing series qualifying record when she turned a 221.390-mph (24.0661 seconds) lap on August 10, 2002. Patrick earned the pole award on the strength of a fast 217.516-mph (24.4947 seconds) practice lap after traditional qualifying was rained out August 13, 2005.

"It's kinda cool to follow in Sarah's footsteps that way. Sarah is with a small budget team doing a great job of running her own team and still driving. That's a neat little fact there. But to me as a racing driver it's just neat to add another pole to the one I got at Indy and add to the podium finish last weekend. Hopefully, we'll be adding another podium finish here, hopefully one from Victory Lane," Mann added.

Plowman, fourth in the championship standings and 106 points behind leader and fourth-place qualifier J.K. Vernay, will share Row 1 after posting a two-lap 190.309-mph (55.9932 seconds) average. He starts on an FIL front row for the second consecutive week after earning his second pole award of the season last week at Chicagoland Speedway where he placed 13th.

"In the morning warm-up we were focusing on qualifying trim and trying to get a decent starting place. We just missed out on the pole. As we saw last weekend, getting the pole doesn't mean a whole lot. It's nice to start up there, but come the race time anything can happen. We really have to focus on getting a car that's good in traffic and dirty air on the high-line and low-line," he said.

Morning practice session leader Charlie Kimball, who is third in the championship standings and 101 points behind Vernay, will start third after cranking out a 190.257-mph (56.0084 seconds) average.

Vernay will start in the top-five for a second consecutive week after nailing down a 190.252-mph (56.0099 seconds) average. He holds a 53-point championship lead over second-place contender James Hinchcliffe. Vernay can clinch this season's FIL title by finishing ahead of Vernay or finishing behind the leader and gaining a minimum of 19 points.

Firestone Indy Lights Practice: Kimball led the morning practice session with a 190.441-mph (27.9771 seconds) lap. He was followed by Plowman with a 190.375-mph (27.9868 seconds) and Mann, who placed 15th in her 2009 Kentucky FIL debut, with a 190.065-mph (28.0325 seconds) lap.

The day continues with IZOD IndyCar Series "Kentucky Indy 300" qualifying at 1:30 p.m., an IICS autograph session follows NCWTS qualifying at 4:30 p.m. in the Hospitality Village, before FIL and IICS return to the track for afternoon practice sessions. The green flag will wave for the "Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" race after 8:00 p.m.

Tickets for today's events can be printed at home from the tickets page of this Web site or reserved at the speedway entrances.

Story by Mike Schmaltz



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