LUCAS PLACE MOTORSPORTS RUNS AT THE FRONT IN NAZARETH Lucas Place Motorsports continued a streak of competitive results in the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship by placing both drivers in points paying positions at Nazareth Speedway. Brian...
LUCAS PLACE MOTORSPORTS RUNS AT THE FRONT IN NAZARETH
Lucas Place Motorsports continued a streak of competitive results in the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship by placing both drivers in points paying positions at Nazareth Speedway. Brian Cunningham led the team with a career-best fourth place finish while his teammate, Geoff Boss, who finished second in the most recent round in Long Beach, finished one lap down in 12th.
After posting fast lap times during pre-race testing last week on the .946-mile oval, both drivers found themselves running competitively from the opening practice session. Cunningham translated his quick practice laps into a strong fifth place qualifying performance with a lap of 22.716 seconds at 149.316 mph. Boss on the other hand, struggled with the balance of his Lola and found himself in 18th with a lap of 23.511 seconds at 144.851 mph.
Heavy rains delayed the 100-mile race until Monday for the first time in series history. In the brief morning practice session, Cunningham ran the fifth fastest lap and Boss improved nearly .4 seconds over his qualifying effort to place a promising ninth.
During the first lap of racing, Boss was involved in a four-car accident in Turn 2. Boss managed to escape with only minor damage and was able to continue at the back of the field after a couple of pit stops for a new nose. "As I came into Turn 2, a car spun ahead of me and he went down into the grass and I thought that I was going to miss him, but he came back up the track and I hit him and it punched a hole in my nose," said Boss. "I pitted and the crew removed the damaged nose under the yellow and sent me back out so I could stay on the lead lap. I came in a second time and got the new nose."
When the race restarted, Cunningham was able to move into third place by lap 25. During the next caution period, he took over second place to eventual winner Christiano da Matta when Oriol Servia pitted. On the restart, Cunningham held his own in second place until lap 55 when he was held up in lapped traffic. While in this group of backmarkers, Cunningham fell back as far as sixth, but battled back with some strong moves to finish fourth. After coming from the back, Boss steadily moved through the field and eventually captured a well-deserved 12th place.
Despite his career-best result, Cunningham was disappointed not to finish on the podium. "We had a very good race and I was solidly in second, but the lapped traffic cost us a podium," said Cunningham. "The lapped cars were not doing what they were instructed to do in the pre-race drivers' meeting and it hurt us. The car had oversteer at the start with full tanks and eventually went away two-thirds of the way through the race and developed a push when the fuel tank went light. But overall it was a good weekend and I am excited to turn the season around after a somewhat disappointing start."
At the end of the race Boss was pleased with the performance of his car. "During the second caution period, I pitted two more times to make tire pressure adjustments to try and cure the oversteer that I had all weekend," stated Boss. "After those stops the car was very good and I set the fifth fastest lap of the race on lap 95. We were able to end the weekend on a good note and I think that we learned a lot that we can apply to some of the other ovals."
Cunningham's finish moved him into third place in the Rookie of the Year standings and to 10th in the overall championship standings. Geoff Boss currently stands in fourth place in the championship following consistent finishes in each of the first three races this season. Lucas Place Motorsports will test both drivers at the Milwaukee Mile this weekend in preparation for the May 31 race at the track. An encore broadcast of the Nazareth race will be shown on ESPN2 on May 7 at 3:30 am EDT.