IPS: Pikes Peak: Round 10 pre-race notes, quotes, schedule

WHAT: Pikes Peak 100, 10th race in 14-race 2005 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season. WHERE: Pikes Peak International Raceway, 1-mile asphalt tri-oval WHEN: 1:45 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 21 DISTANCE: 100 laps/100 miles CARS: Dallara ...

WHAT:
Pikes Peak 100, 10th race in 14-race 2005 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season.

WHERE:
Pikes Peak International Raceway, 1-mile asphalt tri-oval

WHEN:
1:45 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 21

DISTANCE:
100 laps/100 miles

CARS:
Dallara chassis; Infiniti V8 engines; Firestone tires

PREVIOUS RACE WINNERS:
2004 -- P.J. Chesson; 2003 -- Aaron Fike

TV:
ESPN2, 3 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 25

SCHEDULE: (all times local; subject to change)

Saturday, Aug. 20
9:15-9:45 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice
3 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series SWE Race Car Parts Pole qualifying

Sunday, Aug. 21
9-9:15 a.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series warm-up
11:45 a.m. -- Pikes Peak 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race (100 laps/100 miles)

PRE-RACE NOTES:

Tightest points battle in series history: This is the most competitive season in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history, with five race winners in nine races. Wade Cunningham leads Travis Gregg by 27 points, with three other drivers within 80 points of the lead. Gregg has recorded three victories this season while Cunningham has finished in the top five in every race. After nine races in 2004, 67 points separated first and second place. In 2003, the top two drivers were separated by 56 points after nine races. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series has never had more than five drivers win in a season.

Will points leader Cunningham celebrate birthday with first win? Wade Cunningham turns 21 on Aug. 19 meaning the champagne could legally flow in victory circle Aug. 21 if Cunningham were to win his first Menards Infiniti Pro Series race. Cunningham, a former world karting champion, holds the series points lead despite being winless in his rookie season in the series. Cunningham recorded an IRL-record four consecutive second-place finishes earlier this season, and holds the series record with nine consecutive top-five finishes. Cunningham also is the only driver to complete every lap so far this season.

Simmons eyes third pole at Pikes Peak: Jeff Simmons will attempt to win his third consecutive pole position at Pikes Peak International Raceway. In 2003, Simmons captured the pole with a speed of 154.220 mph. He finished second in the race. Last year, Simmons set the track record with a pole speed of 154.574 mph in his first race with Kenn Hardley Racing. Simmons led the first 16 laps before a spin caused him to lose ground. He finished ninth.

"Fast Track To Indy" winner hails from Colorado Springs: Geoff Dodge, a 21-year-old sprint car driver from Colorado Springs, earned a test in a Menards Infiniti Pro Series car later this summer with his performance at the 45th annual Knoxville Nationals. Earlier this season, IRL and Knoxville officials partnered in the "Fast Track To Indy Rookie of the Year" program. The program awards the highest finishing rookie at the Nationals, who is at least 18, an opportunity to test a Menards Pro Series car. A successful test will result in the IRL and Knoxville working to secure sponsorship for at least six races in 2006, including the Futaba Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"Day at the Races" serves as inspiration: Menards Infiniti Pro Series team owner Sam Schmidt continues to serve as an inspiration to many people inside and outside of racing. A former IndyCar Series driver, Schmidt was paralyzed in a practice crash in 2000. He came back one year later as a team owner. Last year, his team dominated the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, winning the championship with driver Thiago Medeiros. Schmidt will host a "Day at the Races" program for recently-paralyzed individuals in the Colorado Springs area on Aug. 20. Participants will enjoy lunch at Andretti Green Racing hospitality, meet drivers, take a tour of the garage area, and watch qualifying.

PRE-RACE QUOTES:

NICK BUSSELL (No. 9 Vision Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I have a little more confidence going into Pikes Peak. The Milwaukee race did a lot for myself. I know it's a different track than Milwaukee. I'm predicting that it will be a pretty tough race. That's a given since it's a one-mile, short oval. I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be a good challenge. I wasn't really looking forward to going to Milwaukee before I went to Milwaukee, and now I'm looking forward to going to Pikes Peak. The short ovals are so difficult that having a good run gives a big boost to my confidence. Hopefully the car will be good, and I think with having a couple of teammates, we'll have a good chance of running well."

JAIME CAMARA (No. 1 CELG-Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I will have a lot of learning to do when I get to Colorado. I have never been to this track before, and I know the car will be different because of the altitude. I know my crew will have a lot of good notes, and I plan on doing a lot of listening and learning. We did a good job at Milwaukee, which was a one-mile track. We had the pole position there, but the finish was fifth. I'd like to do better in the race to get a better finish at Pikes Peak."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Motorsport New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We always look forward to racing. I expect the people who were quick at Milwaukee to be quick at Pikes Peak. I'll be looking to solidify our position in the championship. It's race to race. There wasn't much good coming into the race in Kentucky, and we did better than the best we thought we could do with what we had. It's like a victory for me and the team, so everyone's confidence is way up, because when we get it right, we should be well on it."

CHRIS FESTA (No. 19 SpacePak/CareCentric/SSM Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Pikes Peak is a different track in that it has a much higher elevation, so downforce and horsepower will not be as sufficient, thus making making mechanical grip in the car that much more. It is a one-mile oval as well, so the racing will be much harder than the big tracks and making passes more difficult. So you will really have to be aggressive to get it done. I am confident going there because we always have strong cars on the short tracks, so I am really looking forward to going out there and attacking the track with everything that I have."

TRAVIS GREGG (No. 7 Lucas Oil Products/Sam Schmidt Mspt Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "This will be the first time for me on the Pikes Peak track. I did go last year and watch. It looks like a fun track to drive. It will be interesting to see how the high elevation changes the handling of the car and affects the driver's physical ability. I don't think when we get to Pikes Peak that we'll be thinking about how much distance we're covering in this three-week stretch, but by the time we leave, it'll probably sink in, especially since a lot of us aren't going home between Colorado and California."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Pikes Peak is one of the more challenging tracks we go to. That's partially the track. The banking seems to change throughout the corner, it's not consistent. And there's also pretty sizeable bumps in Turns 1 and 2. It also seems to be somewhat windy, especially in the afternoons, which with the higher altitude gives us less downforce. We seem to do well on the tracks that are tougher to drive. We got the pole the last two years but haven't won yet, so hopefully this will be the year. Last year, Pikes Peak was my first race with Kenn Hardley Racing, so winning the pole was a big boost to everyone, but we didn't have enough time to work on the car. It wasn't good for the long run. This year, we want to make it better for the race."

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