IPS: Jaime Camara earns first pole

Jaime Camara earned his first Infiniti Pro Series pole position today, leading a Sam Schmidt Motorsports sweep of the front row for tomorrow's Futuba Freedom 100. Teammate Travis Gregg flanks him on the outside pole. It is the sixth time in...

Jaime Camara earned his first Infiniti Pro Series pole position today, leading a Sam Schmidt Motorsports sweep of the front row for tomorrow's Futuba Freedom 100. Teammate Travis Gregg flanks him on the outside pole. It is the sixth time in Infiniti Pro history that teammates have filled the front row - and five times the team has been Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Not only is this Camara's first career Infiniti Pro Series pole, but his second lap of 190.135 mph is a new Pro Series qualifying lap record on the famous 2.5 mile oval. Gregg has two poles to his credit, both at oval races where Camara qualified second. Of the swap - Camara now first, and Gregg second - Jaime had one word: "Payback!"

But Jaime's real word was "good." "We had a good car since the first practice. I was flat the second lap, and I was very comfortable in the car. I did a good line every time. We set the car up to that line - I think it's the best line to do here."

Travis did not seem to mind being second instead of first. "I'm really excited," he said. "We weren't as quick as we would've liked to be in the morning practice sessions. But we made a couple of changes and we came back with qualifying on the front row. I'm really excited. This place is not like going around Lawrenceburg Speedway - it's totally different. Especially when you go 190 miles an hour."

The pair have different backgrounds - Travis from short tracks and Jaime from Formula cars - but they work together as teammates, sharing experience on ovals vs. rear engine cars. They plan on working together in tomorrow's race. "We'll work together like at Homestead," Jaime said. "At Homestead we were together and on the last three laps I tried to pass him but couldn't, so I think we're going to do this here." While most railbirds are expecting the field to run in a pack draft tomorrow, Jaime thinks that they can work together and break away.

Travis agrees on teamwork. "You just have to be patient, be calm," he said. "It's a 100 mile race, not just one lap. We're going to work together as a team. We're going to race each other fair and clean." He also expects that the pair can hook up and open a gap from the pack.

The second row was filled by Cole Carter and Jay Drake, two more drivers with the same short track roots as Travis Gregg. Carter was very happy with his run.

"It was good," Cole said. "The crew got the gearing perfect for us, and the car was trimmed out pretty well. It felt real stable. I just tried to be as smooth as I could and put two laps together as consistent as possible. The laps were pretty close in time - only three or four hundredths gap." Travis's ride came together very quickly - the car arrived at the shop only two and a half weeks ago, and they're still lettering the car at the track. He just passed his rookie test last Friday. "Having only a day to work on the car, being up there in the first couple of rows is a really big feat for the whole team," he said. "We have a really good car under us. We'll just try to stay out of trouble and we'll be there at the end."

Fourth fastest qualifier Jay Drake is happy about his chances here and his busy week. "We have a race here tomorrow afternoon, then shoot over to the Indiana State Fairgrounds," he said. "We have a couple of more after that to finish off the weekend.. So it's a big, busy weekend, but it's what I love to do. I'd race every day if I had the chance, and this week I kind of get to do that.

"We keep getting better every time we go on the track. Every time we are on the track it's better than before, and that's promising. Honestly, we wanted to be on the pole and win every race so anything less than that is a little disappointing. But being here at the Speedway and having a great starting spot can make for a great race."

Third generation drivers Al Unser and Marco Andretti will compete in tomorrow's race, renewing memories of past battles between their fathers and grandfathers. They qualified mid-field, seventh and tenth, respectively.

"Well, it's in the show," Unser said. "We'll get them in the race. That's all I have to say about qualifying. We made some adjustments after practice in between qualifying, and I actually found more grip, so I think I'll have something up my sleeve for the race."

"Definitely unhappy," Andretti said. "I went out with no dash - no data or anything - so I had no idea where I was at. As a driver, that's no fun. On the other hand, you're flat and we're doing all we can do anyway. I was doing the best I can, and I just don't think it was there. The track was fine, a lot better than when we tested here."

The past few years have had considerable buzz about female drivers in Indy cars, with Sarah Fisher running several Indy Racing seasons and now Danica Patrick in this year's 500. The Infiniti Pro series includes a talented female driver, Mishael Abbott. Despite qualifying only 14th, she was pleased with the day. "It was great," she said. "We struggled getting the car going the first two sessions in the morning, but I was flat all the way around, and I drove what I got. Now we have to go back and see if we can pick up a little more speed."

Running on the bricks was clearly a big factor in Mishael's mood.  "This
is incredible," she said.  "Just being here - I've been here all month
long.  It's a dream come true."

That was the sentiment of most of the drivers. Even though the race length is more or less the same as the other Infiniti Pro races, and the points are the same, the opportunity to drive at the Speedway makes this one special.

The 40 lap, 100 mile Futuba Freedom 100 is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:30 pm EDT tomorrow, May 27. It will be telecast on a same-day tape delay, on ESPN2, beginning at 2:30 pm EDT.

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Sam Schmidt , Mishael Abbott , Marco Andretti , Jay Drake , Travis Gregg , Cole Carter , Jaime Camara , Al Unser