IPS: Indianapolis II: Friday qualifying notes

Andretti captures pole for Liberty Challenge INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 17, 2005 -- Marco Andretti is halfway to his version of a sweep. Andretti, 18, who won the pole position and the race in his Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro...

Andretti captures pole for Liberty Challenge

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 17, 2005 -- Marco Andretti is halfway to his version of a sweep.

Andretti, 18, who won the pole position and the race in his Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series debut in early April at St. Petersburg, Fla., captured the SWE Race Car Parts Pole on June 17 for the Liberty Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Andretti lapped the 2.605-mile circuit in 1 minute, 26.2360 seconds, 108.539 mph late in the 45-minute second session to claim his second career pole, and the first by an Andretti at Indianapolis since Andretti's grandfather Mario, who won the 1978 Formula One World Championship, sat on the pole for the 1987 Indianapolis 500.

"We made a bad change early, came in and changed and went back out," said Andretti, who drives the No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. "As soon as I saw the lap time, I knew it had to be good for at least front row."

Andretti will share the front row with Nick Bussell, driver of the No. 21 JL West Motorsports entry. Bussell, a 22-year-old rookie from Ionia, Mich., earned his career-best starting position with a lap of 1:26.7700, 107.871.

"I think that we had a pretty good car from the get-go," Bussell said. "I think we were decent in the first session and just a little bit off of Marco. The second session was all pretty good. We knew where we were, but we didn't know if we had a realistic shot at bumping people off to go for the pole."

Jeff Simmons, Wade Cunningham and Jaime Camara round out the top five. The 25-lap race starts at 5:45 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, June 18.

"In the last few minutes, we were second, and then some people went out and we got bumped back a few places," said Cunningham, who trails series points leader Travis Gregg by four points. "I think we timed when to go out on new tires wrong. I think we went a little too early. I think the car's speed is good."

Gregg, who regained the series points lead for the third time this season after winning the Firestone 100 at Texas Motor Speedway June 11, will start ninth. The former sprint car driver has qualified on the front row of all seven oval races in his Menards Infiniti Pro Series career, but has qualified ninth on both road courses.

"Hopefully, if I can't get up and battle with (Cunningham) then some of the other drivers can notch him out," Gregg said. "It will be interesting to see how it all turns out. Wade is a great road racer, but so are Marco Andretti and Jeff Simmons. Simmons is due for a good run, so maybe they can help me out."

-irl-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Nick Bussell , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara