Beatriz takes lead at Indy Lights race, becomes first female winner

GLADEVILLE, Tenn. -- Ana Beatriz of Brazil became the first woman to win on the Firestone Indy Lights Series, taking the rain-delayed Sunbelt Rentals 100 on Saturday at the Nashville Superspeedway.

Beatriz is one of five women who have taken part in the series, that started in 2002, to help develop drivers for the Indy Racing League's IndyCar series. She had finished as high as third three times previously this year.

She started on the front row beside James Davison, the pole-sitter and her Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate, after a thunderstorm forced a nearly two-hour delay. But Beatriz dipped inside Davison going into Turn 3 on lap 33 and took the lead. Beatriz held onto that for the rest of the 77-lap, 100-mile race, winning by 1.2392 seconds ahead of Bobby Wilson.

"Our car was the best one today, and we did it," Beatriz said.

Mishael Abbott, Sarah McCune, Veronica McCann and Cyndie Allerman also had competed on this level. Beatriz said she thought she would prevail in St. Petersburg.

"I'm really, really happy to win as a driver, a driver that came from Brazil as a rookie in the series and really happy to be a winner as a driver," she said. "I don't know about gender."