Seven Firestone Indy Lights rookies became certified for oval track competition during a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway.

Championship leader J.K. Vernay was among the test group also made up of his Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammates Philip Major, eighth in the standings, and James Winslow, ninth in the standings.

Other drivers taking their first laps around the 14-degree-banked 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval were Bryan Herta Autosport's sixth-place championship contender Stefan Wilson, Andersen Racing's 12th-place title hopeful Carmen Jorda, Team Moore Racing's 14th-place pilot Adrian Campos, Jr., and Walker Racing's 15th-place driver Dan Clarke.

FIL competitors will race on an oval for the first time this season on May 28 in a 100-mile event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Vernay was among the fastest drivers on the Kentucky track throughout the six-hour practice. He comes to Firestone Indy Lights competition after earning his first top-five and third consecutive top-10 championship finish on road-course based Formula Euro 3 circuit last season. He found the session a challenging aid to decreasing his oval-track racing learning curve.

"It's a big challenge," said Vernay, who put in a half-day of testing on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval earlier this year. "You have to learn a lot of things like working with a spotter and engineer because it's completely different than a (road/street) setup.

"The goal is not to do the best lap time. We know that the car will be good for Indy with the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team, so what I really want to learn is about traffic, running behind someone and overtaking because the next race is big."

FIL competitors will make their ninth all-time appearance at Kentucky Speedway in the "Drive Smart. Buckle-up Kentucky 100" on Saturday, Sept. 4, at 6:00 p.m., as part of a doubleheader race day that includes a concert with country music supergroup Diamond Rio and an IZOD IndyCar Series 300-mile race will at 8:00 p.m.

Big Deals beginning at $25 can be reserved now through the tickets page of this Web site, by phone at 888-652-7223 (RACE) or through the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., near the Montgomery Inn Restaurant and Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~Kentucky Speedway ~