Ohio native Travis Gregg enters the 2005 14-race Menards Infiniti Pro Series as a rookie despite running three events with his current team owner Sam Schmidt Motorsports last year. Travis Gregg. Photo by Ron McQueeney - IRL. In that...
Ohio native Travis Gregg enters the 2005 14-race Menards Infiniti Pro Series as a rookie despite running three events with his current team owner Sam Schmidt Motorsports last year.
The rookie moved to higher ground in the Miami 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway last Sunday, where he started and finished in the same position: first. Leading every lap and shadowed by rookie teammate Jaime Camara, Gregg used the wiles he learned since the age of seven when he began racing karts to keep the Brazilian - and ten others - at bay.
"I knew Sam's team was very high class because they'd gotten such great results last year. I knew there was a good chance we'd be competitive this year and the experience I gained in those three races last year really helped," Gregg reported.
"My teammate worked with me to develop the car and, while he tried to get around me the last ten laps" of the 67-lap contest, "we really worked together and didn't take each other out. I think it's an indication of what the season will be like."
Of course Sam Schmidt Motorsports secured the Pro series title for Thiago Medeiros in 2004 and was considered the team to beat for the championship again this year, even with three rookie drivers on hand: Gregg, Camara and another American, Chris Festa.
"Chris will be tough competition too," even though he had to retire after contact with P.J. Chesson on the 35th lap Sunday morning. "He started ninth and was up to fourth when that happened," Gregg recalled. "Chris said, before the race 'I'll join you guys at the front so don't run away' and he sure did."
The Menards Infiniti Pro Series has 14 races in 2005 and four of them are on road courses. The first, at St. Petersburg, FL next month is an event Travis Gregg is happy about running after gaining road-racing experience in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 1998-9. "I am looking forward to St. Pete. I've never raced on a street course before and I bet it'll be challenging," he said.
At Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May, owner Sam Schmidt brought Lucas Oil Products on-board for his run with veteran Richie Hearn. The company returned to sponsor Travis Gregg throughout the 2005 MIPS season. "I'm so happy they decided to be part of our program this year," Gregg crowed.
In addition to his karting and Toyota Atlantic preparation, Travis Gregg has also raced sprint cars, calling that discipline good groundwork for Pro series oval competition, even though the sprint cars race on both pavement and dirt. His Atlantic training should be helpful for the four street/road courses.
Having Sam Schmidt as his team owner means a lot to Travis Gregg. "He's a very dedicated individual who travels a lot, for his racing and also in support of the Sam Schmidt Foundation that looks to find cures for paralysis.
"I'm lucky to have Sam at the track because I can ask him lots of questions," Gregg admitted. "He knows an awful lot and, while I'm sure he'd rather be in the car, the perspective Sam gives helps me a lot. Sam gives 110 percent in everything he does; he inspires me to do the same."