INDIANAPOLIS -- Two practice sessions and qualifying took place on Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Friday's Freedom 100, and when the order was set, Wade Cunningham set a track record to earn his second pole position at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and second of 2009.


Wade Cunningham wins second pole in a row in Firestone Indy Lights. Ana Beatriz qualifies in fourth, James Hinchcliffe 12th, and Gustavo Yacaman 13th.

Wade Cunningham wins second pole in a row in Firestone Indy Lights. Big expectations are placed on drivers of Sam Schmidt Motorsports when the team arrives to Indianapolis for the Freedom 100, and the #11 Lucas Oil Driver Wade Cunningham didn't disappoint by placing his team car on pole position for Friday afternoon's race. The New Zealander's two-lap average of 190.177 around the 2.5-mile oval set a track record for Firestone Indy Lights, and more importantly, places him in a great position when the race starts. This is the same starting spot that he won the 2006 Freedom 100 from.

Ana Beatriz qualifies in fourth, James Hinchcliffe 12th, and Gustavo Yacaman 13th.

To kick things off in qualifying, in order, Ana Beatriz, James Hinchcliffe, then Gustavo Yacaman took to the track and posted their speeds. As the pace-setter, Beatriz was satisfied with her run, but both Hinchcliffe and Yacaman encountered issues that slowed them down in their runs. Both feel that they've gotten their issues resolved and are confident they can join Beatriz and Cunningham at the front of the pack by race's end.

With five race cars to run, Sam Schmidt Motorsports will have a busy Carb Day ahead of them. They will need to run Alex Lloyd from 11 a.m. until noon in the final IndyCar practice, then literally switch shirts and get ready for the 12:30 start of the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100.

#7 HINCHTOWN.com/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Hinchcliffe

Starts Friday's race from 12th position.
Two lap qualifying speed of 187.755 mph.
Enters Indianapolis fifth in points.

"Our performance was a little lackluster for us. We certainly didn't achieve what we wanted to in qualifying with P12. But, when I was out on track, I wasn't sure if it was a mistake I made or something with the wind had sort of changed our strategy in terms of where we were going to use what gears. And I wasn't sure if maybe that had been a problem. But it turns out when we got the car back to the garage we found a small problem with the engine. So we had some parts replaced and we're really confident the engine will be solid tomorrow. I mean, mechanically the car was great. So, it's unfortunate that two oval qualifying sessions in a row we've had mechanical trouble that has sort of stopped us from reaching our potential. But we know we've got a good race car and last year this team was able to drive up from mid-pack and get on to the podium. So, we're going to try to hope for a similar result tomorrow.

#11 LUCAS OIL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Wade Cunningham

Starts Friday's race from pole position.
Two-lap qualifying speed of 190.177 mph (track record).
Enters Indianapolis 11th in points.

"It's great. We were sitting here in line, 19th to go out, and Sebastian (Saavedra) pops that 47.25 up on the board, 190.4, I think. That's a good time running by yourself. 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." (On the Firestone Freedom 100): "It's a long race. Forty laps, and anything can happen. In 2006, it went green for 40 laps, and that is a completely different race than what is was last year where we had the 10-lap shootout at the end. You just have to work hard and have the best car you can and take the conditions as they come. You never have a perfect car and when you do, you win. So it's not often that happens, and you have to battle through the day. We'll just see how tomorrow comes. I love Indianapolis. I love oval racing. To be back full time this year with Sam Schmidt, who has great oval success, and obviously we showed it in qualifying trim."

#20 HEALTHY CHOICE/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Ana Beatriz

Starts Friday's race from fourth position.
Two lap qualifying speed of 188.813 mph.
Enters Indianapolis seventh in points.

"It felt pretty good. I think our second lap was a little bit slower than we expected it to. But I think it'll be good enough. It's so bad to qualify first because you have no testing or know what people are doing. It is so special to come back to Indy. It's such a magic environment. All the fans and Indianapolis is, just, only about the Indy 500. So, it's a great environment and I'm very excited for the race with the Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt team. "

#44 CREPES & WAFFLES/TUVACOL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Gustavo Yacaman

Starts Friday's race from 13th position.
Two-lap qualifying speed of 187.303 mph.
Enters Indianapolis 13th in points.

"Well, a little bit disappointed. I don't think it was a very good run. The team has worked hard and we have got to work harder. We're losing a lot of speed. I don't know where we're losing it but, we need to find it somewhere. (On the month of May in Indianapolis) Well, I mean, I've been around the whole month of May. It's pretty cool.

Team Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Sam Schmidt
"Great job by Wade and the team today to win the pole. We always expect to do well here as it's our most important race, and this sets a good tone for the rest of the weekend. Bia had a solid effort as well, and we're confident we'll get James and Gustavo up and running with the front group. Great start, and hopefully, we have an even better finish."

Special Appearance
Alex "Pink" Lloyd will be at the Hilton in downtown Indianapolis signing autographs from 5 to 6 p.m. on Friday.

-credit: ssm