WEST ALLIS, Wis., Friday, July 21, 2006 -- Defending series champion Wade Cunningham captured the pole position for Indy Pro Series'^Ã™ Milwaukee 100 with a lap of 24.754 seconds, 147.783 mph. This is Cunningham's second consecutive pole and third...
WEST ALLIS, Wis., Friday, July 21, 2006 -- Defending series champion Wade Cunningham captured the pole position for Indy Pro Series'^Ù Milwaukee 100 with a lap of 24.754 seconds, 147.783 mph. This is Cunningham's second consecutive pole and third pole of the season. Series point leader Jay Howard completes the front row with a lap of 25.013, 146.094 mph.
Thiago Medeiros, a seven-time race winner and the 2004 series champion, will return to the Indy Pro Series in a one-off race with AFS Racing at the Milwaukee Mile on July 22.
Medeiros will drive the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., entry in place of Alex Lloyd, who also missed the race at Nashville on July 15 due to flu-like symptoms.
"I am very flattered to receive the invitation to drive for AFS Racing," said Medeiros, who dominated the Indy Pro Series with six victories, including a league-record four in a row, in 2004. "After all, for a racing driver it is the same thing as for a plane's pilot; the more you do it the better you can be."
Medeiros, who finished 31st in this year's Indianapolis 500, expects to be competitive at Milwaukee, where he led the first 76 laps in 2004 before a wheel-bearing failure ended his race.
"AFS Racing has been competitive all season," said Medeiros, whose championship came with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "If we can do enough work in the two practice sessions on Friday and put together a good qualifying run, I think we'll be competitive.
"I'm really pleased to be back in the series and close to the IndyCar Series."
The Milwaukee 100 won't just be a homecoming for Mequon, Wis., native Michael Crawford. It will also be his debut race as a driver in the Indy Pro Series.
The 38-year-old, who has spent the past 16 seasons working in motorsports, formed Michael Crawford Motorsports in January. The team has fielded two cars in the Indy Pro Series, ranking ninth and 14th in the entrant point standings.
"This is the location of my first-ever race as a fan," said Crawford, who earned a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin. "My father took me down here, and I saw Rick Mears driving the Gould Racing Charge. That poster hung on my wall in my bedroom for about 10 years. It's really neat. I'm excited."
Crawford has raced various types of cars in the past, but has limited seat time in the 420-horsepower Indy Pro Series car.
"It's a surprise to several of us," Crawford said. "We had a last-minute change in our driver lineup. This is why I got my rookie test out of the way back in January. Things just fall into place. I'd like to see how things go today. I don't have any unrealistic expectations. I'd like it to be very conservative. I'd like to go out and run some laps, become comfortable on the track and have my competitors be comfortable with me being out there. I intend on being very conscientious, running a very consistent line and earning their respect. Come race day, we'll have to see how things go at the start. I'm here for points for the overall season championship, but I'm here for a personal accomplishment as well."
Chris Festa, driver of the No. 51 Cheever Racing Formtek entry in the Indy Pro Series, did not drive on Friday. Festa is being treated for an infection. He is expected to compete in the Milwaukee 100.
Alex Lloyd, who won the Liberty Challenge and ranks seventh in the Indy Pro Series, will miss his second consecutive race this weekend. Lloyd is being treated for an inner-ear infection and is expected to return to competition later this season.
MILWAUKEE 100 POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:
* This is Wade Cunningham's third pole position of the season and the fourth of his Indy Pro Series career.
* Cunningham is the fifth driver to win back-to-back poles in series history. The other drivers are Thiago Medieros, A.J. Foyt IV, Travis Gregg and Jaime Camara.
* Cunningham has won the pole at the last three oval events. He also won the pole Nashville (July 15) and at Indianapolis (May 26).
* This is Brian Stewart Racing's third pole position of the season and the fourth in the Indy Pro Series. The team's last pole position came with Cunningham at Nashville.
* Rookie Jay Howard will start second. He has started on the front row for each of his oval starts in the Indy Pro Series.
MILWAUKEE 100 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing): "We were quick here at the test a couple of weeks ago. We were gutted with the result last week, so we've come here with that out of our mind now. We've got another race, so we just want to qualify on the pole, lead every lap and win. It's never that simple. Last week proved that. We've got a good car. We pushed really hard on qualifying, almost too hard. We've got the pole again. It's a testament to the team. Doug (Hoy), the engineer, really nailed it this time. I'm pleased to be on the pole again and look forward to tomorrow." (About Milwaukee being a tough track to drive) "It definitely is with the wind in Turn 4. It's a problem for everyone, even the IndyCars. In the race setup, you just try to take what you've got and race that, but in qualifying you bolt on what you think is going to work, and you keep your foot on it as hard as you can as long as you can. We stuck this time."
JAY HOWARD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "The car was better in qualifying. It's the best it's been since I got here. Unfortunately, we weren't fast enough. But, we qualified second last week, and we won the race. Hopefully we can repeat that."
JONATHAN KLEIN (No. 27 Klein Tools/Turn-Key Forging): "The IndyCar practice a couple of weeks ago certainly helped. I don't think we could have got third without it."
BOBBY WILSON (No. 24 Kenn Hardley Racing): "It's the best the car has handled all weekend, so I'm pretty happy about that. I think we have a better race car than qualifying setup. The car is really consistent, and I know I'm going to be there at the end of the day."
THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers): "The car was not good in the first session, not set up the way I wanted it. We made some dramatic changes and really improved in the second session. In qualifying, the car was much faster in Turns 1 and 2. I just overdrove it into Turn 4, brushed the wall, no real damage. We should be in good shape for the race tomorrow."
MICHAEL CRAWFORD (No. 9 Michael Crawford Motorsports): "I'm really pleased. I had a really good time out there. I don't know exactly where the limit of the car is, and I think some of these other drivers have a better grasp of that, and they're looking for that. I feel comfortable out there, and yet I'm not in a position to challenge for a high-placing finish in my first race. I'm trying to be realistic. So far, today was perfect."