CUNNINGHAM LEADS OPENING DAY AT ST. PETE ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Friday, April 1, 2005 -- Rookie Wade Cunningham turned the fastest lap among the teams preparing for Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Cunningham, the...
CUNNINGHAM LEADS OPENING DAY AT ST. PETE
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Friday, April 1, 2005 -- Rookie Wade Cunningham turned the fastest lap among the teams preparing for Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Cunningham, the driver of the No. 33 Visit New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, recorded a lap of 1:09.5125, 93.221 mph on the 1.8-mile street circuit. Jeff Simmons and Marco Andretti were second and third, respectively.
Qualifying for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. (EST) on April 2.
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm disappointed because when you put new tires on you expect a better time. We went a little quicker, but man, the balance was terrible. We had made a substantial change before we changed tires, but it was something we had to do anyway. Now we know it's not good, and we went the wrong way. It was a bummer because we wanted the quickest time, but tomorrow is more important. There's more to come."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 1 CELG -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I was pushing really hard at the end of practice, because we did some changes and the car was really good, so I was pushing really hard to see what I could do with tires like this (old). I'm going to have to deal with that in the race, with old tires. The car is pretty good for the race, and we'll be alright for the qualifying."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I was pushing a little too hard out there, and I overheated the brakes. So, tomorrow we will see what the weather will do for qualifying. We hope we can get a good run in so we can be ready. I can see a lot of guys here that are close to the top of the time chart, and it will be a quite a battle."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Visit New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's good. We worked from the first to the second sessions. We didn't want to make too big a jump. The tires were getting older, we didn't want to put new tires on, so we were just playing it conservative. Now that we've got a bunch of data to work with, we can actually make some decisions and go for it tomorrow in the last practice before qualifying." (About earning the right to decide the qualifying order) "With a typical track, it means you get to make a decision if you want a clean track or a rubbery track, so it will depend on the circumstances of the day. If it's raining or looks like it might rain, it's certainly going to be an advantage. If the weather stays relatively constant, that's not something you really worry about because the track's only going to change very minimally. But, yeah, it's an ace card to have, it's bragging rights and everything, so it's good."
NICK BUSSELL (No. 21 JL West Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I think some of the guys put some new tires on. At the end, our old tires, the pressures were off. The last couple of laps, I actually stayed out there, I was going to come in with a few laps to go and check pressures, I felt like they were a little high. I decided to stay out just to see what it could do at the end of the run, because I knew we were getting close to the end of the session. I think it was tires and pressures, otherwise we would have stayed right at the top. I felt like a lot better car than sixth place."
AL UNSER (No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm pretty pleased. I was driving the car really hard. When we posted the fastest time, my steering wheel was coming off, so we had to come in or else I would have hopefully beat my teammate. It's going to be a nice close race. It's going to be whoever has the power to get down these straightaways, and you can out brake them into the corner. It's going to be a good race."
JON HERB (No. 6 AERCON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "The car was good overall. We got some good, clean laps in early (in the first practice). We made some changes because the car was bottoming out and then went back out. The car was better, improved. But then the right rear locked up going into Turn 8 and the car looped around, barely making contact with the wall. The damage was minimal, but it did break the oil cooler, so we needed some time to repair it. But the practice session was a lot of fun. I think there will be plenty of places to pass, like in the "carrousel" and in Turn 1. I'm looking forward to Saturday and more track time."