Cunningham Joins Dixon On Fourth Row For Indycar Debut

Kiwi Rookie Wade Cunningham will join compatriot Scott Dixon on the fourth row of the grid for his IZOD IndyCar Seies in Texas this evening (US time).

In a strong start for the 26-year-old former World Karting and Firestone Indy Lights series champion's IndyCar series career, Cunningham set the eighth fastest time in qualifying this morning (US time) with a two-lap average of 48.9504 seconds at an average speed of 342km/h (214 mph).

An indication of just how good a time that is for a rookie is that it is just 00.2670 of a second slower than the pole-winning time set by Sam Schmidt Motorsport teammate Alex Tagliani and just 00.0020 of a second slower than the time set by seventh quickest qualifier Dixon.

In coming up with a time good enough for a place on the outside of the fourth row of the grid Cunningham also qualified ahead of such IndyCar Series luminaries as Australian Ryan Briscoe, top US female driver Danica Patrick and Brazilian Helio Castroneves.

"For us, it's just about sticking to the basics.

Wade Cunningham

He also soundly beat drivers he used to battle with in the Firestone Indy Lights class, namely Briton Alex Lloyd (25th), Colombian Sebastian Saavedra (26th) and Briton Jay Howard (28th).

Despite his competitive showing in qualifying in the #99 Creatherm/Mobile Drill International/Zephyr Technologies' car Cunningham reiterated after the session that this was his first IndyCar series meeting and that he was taking it one step at a time.

"For us, it's just about sticking to the basics. An hour of practice before qualifying isn't a lot. I hadn't been to this track since 2005 in (Firestone Indy) Lights, and this is my first weekend in an Indy car. So we were just keeping it simple by doing the basics. We bolted new tyres on and tried to adjust the balance a little bit. Time is quite tight in the session, so we didn't have time to do everything we wanted. So really for us going into qualifying was like a bit of the unknown. We have a teammate who is on pole, and we knew what they were doing. But again, we didn't want to make any hiccups that would penalize ourselves by making mistakes. We didn't go as far as Alex did in qualifying set-up. So there's a little bit of speed there and, also, I made a little mistake on my gearing entering the green flag which cost us a bit of time as well."

-source: wade cunningham PR