IPS: Jaime Camara aims high

In the four races held to date for the 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series there have been four winners. Travis Gregg, Jon Herb, Marco Andretti and Jaime Camara have all hoisted the winner's trophy thus far in the season, showing that parity is...

In the four races held to date for the 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series there have been four winners. Travis Gregg, Jon Herb, Marco Andretti and Jaime Camara have all hoisted the winner's trophy thus far in the season, showing that parity is alive and well in the Pro series.

Camara, driver of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports #1 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone racer landed with last year's championship team (Thiago Medeiros took those honors) and loves the position he's in. After winning the Futaba Freedom 100 24-year-old Camara is looking forward to the balance of the season.

It's been an up and down year thus far for the Brazilian, who finished second in his first ever oval race on 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway, but crashed out of his next two events at Phoenix International Raceway and on the streets of St. Petersburg. By the time he arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Camara was ripe for victory. And took it.

"The Indy race was pretty good but I was surprised when Wade [Cunningham] passed me on the first lap. After the race restarted (following the first of four caution periods), I knew we had a good car to pass people so I focused on my line," Camara related.

"Jon Herb was very fast and we passed back and forth, then Wade and I dueled for quite a long time. I knew with all the restarts that I had to get going early because then I'd get a better line into Turn 4. I think that strategy worked," Camara laughed, "because we won on that last restart (for a multi-car incident)."

Winning in front of family, friends and representatives from Brazilian sponsor CELG was exciting for Camara and he said his family intends to come to more of the Indy Racing League's remaining 10 Menards Infiniti Pro Series races.

Camara is looking forward to his first visit to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the Firestone 100. "I have heard it is the most fun [oval] track with its 24-degree banks. I don't know the track yet or the lines to use but I think we have a good car and good baseline to set up the car properly," he alluded.

A week later, Camara races on the 2.605-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit when the Pro series serves as a support race for the 2005 United States Grand Prix. "There will be a lot of pressure again for that race and it will be really tough," he realized. "More drivers [in the series] are competitive on road courses but I think, again we can do a good job."

At this point in the season no one racing in the Pro series has an inside track to the championship, particularly with this many races left to run, seven on oval circuits and three road races. "It's too early to see who can win but after Milwaukee on July 24th I think we'll have a better idea," Camara stated. "We'll know then who can fight for the championship."

Coming from Brazil where oval races are pretty much of an anomaly, overall speed was an issue for Camara the first time out in October of last year, when he tested for Sam Schmidt Motorsport on the Kentucky Speedway oval. "I was surprised how high the speeds were; it wasn't something I expected," he explained.

"I had to adjust my driving style to be very 'quiet' on the oval. You have to turn very, very slightly whereas on a road course you can be much more aggressive in your style. You have to be much more focused on the oval."

Having one of the best teachers in the business in owner Sam Schmidt, Camara has learned a lot over the past few months. "We talk a lot about what to do, especially on the oval. He tells me what to do in traffic and he helps me a lot," Camara delineated.

Can Camara bring home another title for Sam Schmidt Motorsports by the end of the season at California Speedway? He'll have to do better than many other drivers, but most importantly Camara will have to beat his own proficient teammates, Travis Gregg (already a winner at Miami) and Toyota Atlantic Championship graduate Chris Festa.

His aim is high but only time will tell if Camara can achieve his goals.

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Jon Herb , Sam Schmidt , Marco Andretti , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg , Jaime Camara , Thiago Medeiros