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Indy Lights at Milwaukee

By: Mark W. Theisen

WEST ALLIS, WISCONSIN June 1, 2008: The 2008 edition of the Firestone Indy Lights race at the historic Milwaukee Mile went to a Wisconsin driver for the first time as Oconomowoc’s Bobby Wilson took the lead from Pablo Donoso on the 12th lap and went uncontested to win the 100 lap race that was a prelude to the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 for the Indy Car Series later today at the West Allis speed plant.

Wilson, driving in his 6th race for a brand new Firestone Indy Lights team this year owned by Neil Enerson started alongside pole-sitter Donoso and had to wait through two early cautions flag before being able to mount a charge for the win.

Ana Beatriz spun coming out of the fourth turn on the second lap of the race to slow the field before they got up to racing speed. Beatriz was able to make it back to her pit where repairs were made to the car and she was able to rejoin the race, albeit many laps down.

Just as Wilson was to make a move on Donoso on lap 9 Marc Williams spun in nearly the same spot in the fourth turn as Beatriz to bring out caution number two. The contact put Williams out of the race.

On the restart it took Wilson just two laps to move into the lead that he would not surrender the rest of the race despite being slowed for one more caution on lap 20 for a spin and contact by Mark Olson also in the fourth turn.

While Wilson was never challenged for the lead the rest of the race the positions were changing behind him. Jeff Simmons worked his way around Donoso on lap 31 to take second with Raphel Matos taking third from Donoso on lap 34.

Donoso’s day continued to deteriorate with a penalty for blocking J.R. Hildebrand on lap 74 ultimately finishing in 7th at the end just ahead of another driver with Wisconsin ties, Arie Luyendyk Jr.

At the end Wilson was .0893 seconds ahead of Simmons with Matos, Andrew Prendeville and Hildebrand rounding out the top five.

The win was Wilson’s third career Indy Lights win but first for his new team after driving for three different owners in his 36 race Lights starts.

“The Team E guys put together a great car for this weekend,” said Wilson, whose best 2008 finish was 6th last weekend at Indianapolis. “Our first win together couldn’t have come at a better place that the Milwaukee Mile, I’m just ecstatic for the team. Coming to the Milwaukee Mile as a kid, it was always my dream for me to race here one day and to win here is even better.”
Wilson led 88 laps in today’s race, more that the 39 he has led previously in all his starts and despite the closeness of the distance at the end he was not worried. “My team gave me lap times as the race wore down and even though I thought Jeff (Simmons) may make a run I felt confident I could hold him off and I did.”

“We just came up a big short,” said Simmons, who recorded his best Lights series finish since 2006 in St. Petersburg. “We were really loose on cold tires and that left Bobby (Wilson) get away early but we were running him down and I thought I had a shot but it was not meant to be today.”

Wilson won $32,500 for his efforts today and jumped to 7th in the standings after coming in to the race in 16th.