IPS: Nashville: Qualifying notes

LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 14, 2006 -- Wade Cunningham claimed his second SWE Race Car Parts Pole Award of the season, winning the pole for the Indy Pro Series Sunbelt Rentals 100. QUALIFYING DAY NOTEBOOK: 2005 winner Jaime Camara (Andretti...

LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 14, 2006 -- Wade Cunningham claimed his second SWE Race Car Parts Pole Award of the season, winning the pole for the Indy Pro Series Sunbelt Rentals 100.

QUALIFYING DAY NOTEBOOK:

2005 winner Jaime Camara (Andretti Green Racing) is the only former Indy Pro Series winner at Nashville entered in the Sunbelt Rentals 100.

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Neo Quimica, a Brazilian pharmaceutical company, will sponsor Jaime Camara for the remainder of the 2006 Indy Pro Series season. The company, which has more than 1,400 employees, manufactures medicines using the most modern existing technological and scientific resources available in the worldwide market. Neo Quimica, which was founded in 1959, will be represented on the sidepods of the No. 11 car driven by Camara for Andretti Green Racing.

"We have been talking for almost two years to put this together and now it is going to happen, " said Camara, who has two career Indy Pro Series victories, including at Nashville Superspeedway where the series races July 15. "They've known me since I started racing and I almost closed a deal with them to race on their Brazilian stock car team in 2004, but I decided to come to USA to try the IndyCar Series."

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Travis Gregg got a surprise phone call on his drive from Camden, Ohio to Nashville Superspeedway. Instead of being the spotter for the No. 9 car in the Sunbelt Rentals 100 on July 15, he would be driving it. Gregg, a three-time winner in the Indy Pro Series last year, will return for his second race of the season with Michael Crawford Motorsports.

"I'm pretty excited about," said Gregg, who finished 12th in the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I was initially coming down here to spot for Tom Wieringa in the (No.) 9 car, and I always carry my stuff just in case. I got a call about halfway to Nashville, and they told me something about how Tom wasn't going to be able to be in the car this weekend. I phoned my dad, and we worked something out. Came down here and got fitted into the car last night. I'm just happy to be racing again."

Said team owner Michael Crawford: "There was a last-minute issue with Tom's sponsorship for this event, so we decided to transfer it to Kentucky. Tom will be in the car at Milwaukee, Kentucky and Chicago. Because of that issue, we had Travis Gregg on standby. I've worked with Travis the last two seasons, so I'm glad a driver of his caliber was available to come and stand in for Tom in the No. 9 car this weekend."

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#76 James Chesson has been withdrawn for the Sunbelt Rentals 100.

JAMES CHESSON (No. 76 Part Sourcing International): "This isn't what we wanted. There are people saying, 'Dodge touched you.' I don't know. I'm not going to blame it on someone else if I don't feel that was the case. I should have waited, held back a little bit, but I was just coasting, fifth gear. I wasn't out there to set the world on fire. I've never been here. I was just coasting around on the outside, and it took off on me. Bad, bad. I feel really bad for these guys - Steve (Eppard), 360 Brakes, everyone. They thrashed to be here. The deal came together late at Indy. It's Steve's car, and he doesn't want to take any more chances this weekend."

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Alex Lloyd won't get a chance for back-to-back wins in the Indy Pro Series. Lloyd won the Liberty Challenge on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 1 despite being treated in the care center immediately prior to the race. Lingering flu-like symptoms have forced him to withdraw from the Sunbelt Rentals 100 at Nashville Superspeedway scheduled for July 15.

"It's the same thing from before the run at Indy two weeks ago," said Lloyd, who passed Graham Rahal in the final two laps to win the Liberty Challenge. "A similar type of thing has been happening every day, not as bad, but similar. It happened a little bit yesterday. I don't really know what it was put down to. It happened again today. I went to go see the doctors. When it affects your vision, basically you're dizzy and stuff, especially on an oval, they don't want you out there.

"I don't feel too bad right now, but the problem they're having is it's coming in and out. It's been going on for quite a while, probably a month, so it's something we need to get sorted. It's probably something as simple as some antibiotics or something that will get it sorted, but they want to do some tests.

"Unfortunately, that means we're not cleared for this weekend, which is a real shame. But, you can understand where they are coming from. When you're wheel-to-wheel on an oval, you don't want anything where someone is feeling dizzy or anything like that." Lloyd will undergo tests at a Nashville-area hospital on July 15 and expects to spend next week in Indianapolis where league doctors can continue to evaluate him. He hopes to drive the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. car in the Milwaukee 100 at the Milwaukee Mile on July 22.

Veteran racer Arie Luyendyk Jr., who was the spotter for Lloyd during the first practice session, will drive AFS Racing's No. 25 car in the Sunbelt Rentals 100.

"I found out this morning. It's going to be difficult to jump in the car and qualify it without any practice time," said Luyendyk, who made his first Indianapolis 500 start in May. "All in all, if the car is good hopefully we can make up some positions.

"It's nice to be back in the car. Now, I'm a little bit nervous just because I haven't run in a while, and I haven't run in an Indy Pro Series car on an oval since Miami, so it should be interesting. But, last year we ran really well here, so we'll give it a go."

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Sam Schmidt Motorsports is running a decal with "Support H.R. 810" this weekend on the #7 car of Jay Howard. H.R. 810 is a bill which proposes to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research. It was passed by the House last week and will be up for vote in the Senate next week. Team owner Sam Schmidt, a former IndyCar Series driver who sustained career-ending spinal injuries in a testing crash in 2000, is a leading advocate for the disabled.

SUNBELT RENTALS 100 POST-QUALIFYING NOTES

* This is Wade Cunningham's second pole position of the season and the third of his Indy Pro Series career. Cunninham won the pole on the oval at Indianapolis

* This is Brian Stewart Racing's second pole position of the season and the third in the Indy Pro Series. The team's last pole position came with Cunningham on the oval at Indianapolis in May.

* The pole sitter has won the last three Indy Pro Series events here at Nashville.

* Rookie Jay Howard will start second. He has started on the front row for each of his oval starts in the Indy Pro Series.

* Brett Van Blankers qualified a career-best fourth. His previous-best start was ninth on the temporary street circuit at St. Petersburg.

SUNBELT RENTALS 100 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing, SWE Race Car Parts Pole Award winner): "The year's been going well. We've been quick everywhere we've gone. The Indy road course was the exception. We struggled a little bit. We tested here a little bit. Every time we come here, we're quickest in testing, so it's nice to validate the crew's effort again with a pole. That says as much about what they put in as what I do. The car is good. We were quickest in the second practice today. I'm confident we've got a good car for tomorrow. The race is long, and it gets tricky with the marbles and tire wear. I'm pretty sure we've got enough to stay up front, and we'll be looking for a strong result." (About advantage of starting from the pole): "You have to race. The win doesn't come easy. Indy was a very tough race. Its looks like, sure, we led every lap on paper, but that wasn't really the case in the race. It was a struggle. We battled the last 15 laps with car problems and then with Jay (Howard). I'm imagining this race will be similar. Obviously being in front is an advantage around a place like this with tight turns. It is a race. Unknowns come out, yellow flags, full-course yellows, stoppages, who knows, so we've got to keep our nose clean and be there."

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified second): "Not much to say. We'll see what happens tomorrow. The car is really, really good. We had a good practice session this morning and made a few changes, which made it even better. The car was good on the bumps and I didn't have any problems all day. We'll be up front tomorrow."

JAIME CAMARA (No. 11 Neo Quimica, qualified third): "That was not a bad run for us at all. After the mechanical problems we had this morning cost us so much track time, I wasn't expecting to run as well as we did, and I certainly didn't expect to run a '26.1'. I'm encouraged for the race tomorrow, I think we've finally turned around our bad luck."

BRETT VAN BLANKERS (No. 3 Inner City Recycling, qualified fourth): "Qualifying was pretty good. It is the best qualifying position I've been in this year. I'm happy about that. The car was pretty good. I can't complain about the car. Lots of grip level. The grip level was really high. The first corner was flat out. I've never raced on a concrete track before. At first it was pretty bumpy but after everything warms up, it is alright."

NICK BUSSELL (No. 52 Cheever Racing, qualified fifth): "The run was pretty good. Actually, it is the best we've been. I'm pretty happy with that. We've still got some more work to do. I was pretty happy with the way the car felt. I would like to have had a little more speed, but it looks like we are going to end up in fifth and that's not too bad."

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Graham Rahal , Sam Schmidt , James Chesson , Alex Lloyd , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Jay Howard , Tom Wieringa , Arie Luyendyk Jr.