IPS: Cunningham earns Infineon pole, his fourth of season

Wade Cunningham will start from the pole position for the fourth time this season when the Carneros 100 takes the green flag on Saturday afternoon. Cunningham averaged 99.840 mph around the challenging road course located north of San Francisco,...

Wade Cunningham will start from the pole position for the fourth time this season when the Carneros 100 takes the green flag on Saturday afternoon. Cunningham averaged 99.840 mph around the challenging road course located north of San Francisco, setting the fastest lap of the day with three minutes remaining in the final qualifying session.

"There was that one big yellow near the end," said Cunningham. "We took the time to get the right amount of fuel in the car and put new tires on, so we had the perfect circumstance to do a good lap. And we had a clear track, which was important. I think that was probably the biggest key. I got five uninterrupted laps, which I'm sure other people didn't get, because we waited behind everyone for nearly a minute. It was good strategy on the team's part. The car is obviously good because it's fast, so we'll take what we've got tomorrow and see how it is."

Rookie driver Alex Lloyd will start second. Lloyd, who hails from Manchester, England, has qualified on the front row for each of the road and street courses this year. "The day generally was really good," he reported. "I probably expected a little more from today, to be honest. We had a decent test, and the car was good. It was really only Wade (Cunningham) who could keep up with the times. I was a little bit disappointed at the end of the session. I set the pace all day and was quickest with five minutes to go until the end. The car felt good but we were stuck in traffic, and I just couldn't get a run at the end."

Jonathan Klein, currently second in the point standings behind Jay Howard, will start third. "The car felt really good out there. We made some earlier adjustments and they worked out really good for us. I usually struggle with road courses, so I'm really happy with a third-place starting position. I just need a good start and keep myself out of trouble."

Klein's best finish on a road course came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he finished third. In the other road and street races he has earned three fifth place finishes.

Nick Bussell will start fourth driving for Eddie Cheever's Indy Pro Series team. "The car felt pretty good out there," said Bussell. "We made some earlier improvements in the first session, and we were really happy with that. We're going to make some more improvements before the race tomorrow, but I think we're going in the right direction, and everybody is happy about that."

The top four drivers broke Marco Andretti's track record of 98.307 mph set last year.

Current points leader Jay Howard qualified fifth at 98.008 mph. "It didn't go as expected," Howard said. "I was hoping to get better. We started off on old tires and were two tenths off. We came and put on new tires and made changes and were marginally better. It was not quite how I wanted it to go. Hopefully, we'll do better tomorrow."

Bobby Wilson will start sixth followed by Mike Potekhen, Ryan Justice and Scott Mansell. Jaime Camara rounded out the top ten qualifiers.

Hoover Orsi will drive the No. 51 Cheever Racing Formtek entry this weekend in place of Chris Festa, who is being treated for mononucleosis. An open-wheel veteran, Orsi won the Toyota Atlantic championship in 2001. Orsi did not take a time in qualifying and is slated to start at the rear of the 15 car field.

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Hoover Orsi , Marco Andretti , Alex Lloyd , Nick Bussell , Ryan Justice , Chris Festa , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Bobby Wilson , Jay Howard , Jonathan Klein , Mike Potekhen , Scott Mansell