Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cunningham on pole for Indy Lights Firestone Freedom 100

Wade Cunningham, driving the No. 11 entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, won the pole for Friday’s Firstone Freedom 100 Indy Lights race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Schmidt is a Pepperdine University graduate, former IndyCar Series driver and owner in the Indy Lights series.
Cunningham was the 19th driver to qualify in the 22-car field. Sebastian Saavedra was the pole sitter at 47.25 seconds at the time Cunningham started his qualifying run.
That’s a good time running by yourself,” Cunningham said. “We were only running marginally quicker than that this morning at 9 with the cool ambient temperatures and a cold track. So I dug deep, and the car was great. I can’t complain. The changes that were made from second practice to qualifying obviously worked. We didn’t do the quickest lap time, but we were more consistent on the second lap.”
Schmidt has three cars in the Indy Lights race. Ana Beatriz qualified fourth and James Hinchcliffe will start 12th.
Charlie Kimball, a driver from Camarillo and driver of the No. 35 entry for Palm Beach International Raceway, qualified seventh.
“We had a starter break at the qualifying line, so we had to push start it,” Kimball said. “The engine wouldn’t turn over. It was a bit tense and very frantic there for a few seconds, but we
got it fired, luckily. It wasn’t an ideal run (because) we didn’t quite get the engine as warm as we wanted before we went out. We didn’t get the setup quite right. With everyone running in practice, there was a little more rubber down than we anticipated. The wind was blowing across the car instead of at our back.
“We’re pretty happy. We have a good race car under us. We’re in good shape. We’re where we need to be to have a good result. From the front four rows, we can make anything happen. The competitive level of this series this year is higher than it’s been in a long, long time. And that lends itself to really tight races and good competition.”
Daniel Herrington, driving for Valencia’s Bryan Herta and his Bryan Herta Autosport team, qualified ninth.
“Yeah, it wasn’t bad,” said Herrington, driver of the No. 28 entrty. “We made a few more changes here before qualifying to get a little more speed out of it. So far, pretty good, but this is the worst part. You just have to sit here and wait and see if your time can hold up. But we made a few changes in the car, and that helped pick up a little bit of speed. It seemed like it did pretty well for us. Now the most important thing is to get a good race car.”

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