Guerrieri finding a home in Indy Lights
DES MOINES, Iowa – For drivers on the Indy Lights development circuit, being overlooked is a fact of life.
So few could argue when IndyCar officials pushed the Indy Lights race back from before the main event Saturday night until afterward because of heavy storms. IndyCar needed to stay within its TV broadcast window, even if it meant the Indy Lights show at Iowa Speedway wouldn't go green until almost midnight.
The brave souls who stuck around until Sunday morning saw yet another dazzling performance by Argentine Esteban Guerrieri.
The charismatic Guerrieri took advantage of a blocking penalty on leader Tristan Vautier and hung on for his third win in five starts. In victory lane, Guerrieri pulled out an imaginary machine gun and sprayed the crowd as though he was "mowing down the competition."
Guerrieri always seems ready to put on a show.
"I like it. The guys have fun, and it's a nice way to celebrate with all the crowd there and all the guys in victory lane," Guerrieri said. "While you're having fun, you show your personality — otherwise you don't have fun."
Guerrieri, 27, clearly has enough personality for a ride in IndyCar in 2013. But charm is nothing without talent, and Guerrieri appears to have the chops necessary to compete in America's top open-wheel series.
He earned a spot with the European Formula Renault in 2001 and hoped to work his way up to Formula 1, only to find the way blocked. So he signed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports before the 2011 season and quickly took to Indy Lights.
"There was nothing going on, I had no support. And I had a chance to come here, to race in America. I always wanted to do that, and to be honest I quite like it," Guerrieri said. "I'm having a lot of fun."
Guerrieri did say that if the Argentine government would throw its support behind him to get an F1 ride , he'd certainly listen. But his goal now is IndyCar and he may not have to wait much longer.
Guerrieri won six poles in 14 races in 2011 and took three of the races, finishing as the runner-up in Indy Lights points standings. This season he's already matched his win total from 2011 while taking over the points lead with his win in Iowa.
That, combined with the personality and marketability, would seem to put him in prime position for a full-time IndyCar ride in 2013. Guerrieri said that while he's had discussions with Sam Schmidt Motorsports on moving up next year, nothing has been decided yet.
He would also appear to have options with other IndyCar teams should a ride open up.
"I have the confidence to achieve that. I want to finish high in the system this year and also meanwhile work toward an IndyCar ride," Guerrieri said. 'That's my goal and I'm confident I can do it."
Guerrieri's charm extends beyond spraying imaginary bullets in a memorable — if somewhat politically incorrect — victory celebration. He's also become a favorite at events for fans at the track, occasionally breaking into dance with supporters.
Guerrieri is having a blast in North America, and to him it's important to show the world how much fun he's having.
"When you have pleasure by anything you do in life, not only by winning a race, you show your emotions. You only enjoy not only for yourself but also for the others," Guerrieri said. "It's just being happy, being yourself and trying to get your emotions out."