Kansas: Series qualifying notes

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Saturday, April 25, 2009) -- 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion Wade Cunningham won his first pole in two years, winning the pole for the Kansas Lottery 100. Cunningham recorded a two-lap qualifying average of 187.458 ...

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Saturday, April 25, 2009) -- 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion Wade Cunningham won his first pole in two years, winning the pole for the Kansas Lottery 100. Cunningham recorded a two-lap qualifying average of 187.458 mph.

Sebastian Saavedra qualified second, Ana Beatriz was third, J.R. Hildebrand fourth and Pippa Mann fifth.

The Kansas Lottery 100 is scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday, while the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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Firestone Indy Lights race winner Dillon Battistini will drive Genoa's No. 63 entry during the Firestone Indy Lights Kansas Lottery 100.

Battistini, who won a series best four races a year ago with Panther Racing, has not driven in 2009 as he seeks an IndyCar Series seat for the Indianapolis 500.

MARK OLSON (Owner, Genoa): "Obviously, I'm excited to have Dillon's experience under our tent this weekend. I think it's important for Richard (Philippe) to have the best possible teammate to push him, to learn from, and to work together with on the track. Dillon's a proven winner, so when Dillon's management approached me with the idea, we jumped at the opportunity."

DILLON BATTISTINI (No. 63 Genoa): "I am very grateful to my management, sponsors, friends and family for getting things put together with Genoa. The 63 car is clearly the most desirable seat out there. I can't wait to work with my new teammate Richard (Philippe) and the rest of the Genoa folks. I'm very confident in our ability to come away from Kansas with a top result even though everything has come together so quickly. Thomas [Knapp] has assembled a very professional and talented team, and I'm looking forward to helping them out in any way I can. Our primary focus has been the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. It seems as if I've done nothing but workout and go to meetings for months now. I think it'll be a nice mental break to get in a car this weekend - then hopefully the 500 and maybe more."

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Guthrie Meyer Racing's Jesse Mason celebrates his 25th birthday today. It's the third birthday that the team has celebrated in as many race weekends.

SEAN GUTHRIE (No. 4 Guthrie Meyer Racing): "Last week was my 21st birthday, and at St. Pete, two of our crew guys had birthdays. "(Today) is Jesse's birthday, but we don't have anything really planned."

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

* Wade Cunningham won the pole, his eighth career pole. Cunningham ranks second all-time in poles, second to 2004 series champion Thiago Medeiros, who won nine.

* This is Cunningham's first pole since Watkins Glen 2007.

* This is the 27th pole for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, the most in series history.

* Sebastian Saavedra qualified second, his third top-three start of the season.

* Ana Beatriz qualified a season-best third. This is her eighth consecutive top-10 start, longest active streak in the series.

* J.R. Hildebrand, the defending winner, qualified fourth, his fourth consecutive top-four start.

* Pippa Mann qualified fifth, her first start inside the top 20.

* Series points leader Junior Strous qualified 17th.

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, first): "I'm really happy to be on the pole. I thought the Panther guys were going to put up a challenge, especially after their strength in preseason oval testing. I'm just really pleased with the effort that the guys put in. It was kind of a late deal getting started this season. Being a four-car team, it's pretty tough to get it all working in the same direction. We've made a lot of progress in the past two weekends, but it's good to come back to an oval. I love oval racing, and here we are on the pole."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., second): "It was a great run for my team. We knew the time to beat was going to be really close. I've been very happy all weekend, knowing that the car was great. The guys did an awesome job with the setup. We have to keep concentrating. The Firestone tires were incredible during the whole two laps. Now our focus is the race. That's where the real points are. We're thinking about the championship, so we're going to try to do our best tomorrow and keep it going."

ANA BEATRIZ (No. 20 Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): "It was a pretty good run. The Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt car was great. I think it will be very good for the race, and we should be able to improve our position."

J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 26 ARPRO, fourth): "It was a decent day for the No. 26 car. I was hoping to hold on to the pole, but starting on the second row is not bad. I hope to get the AFS/AGR car up front and defend my win from last year."

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SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
11:45 a.m. Kansas Lottery 100 pre-race
Noon Kansas Lottery 100 (67 laps/100 miles)

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Jesse Mason , Pippa Mann , Wade Cunningham , Junior Strous , Sebastian Saavedra , J.R. Hildebrand , Ana Beatriz , Dillon Battistini