IPS: Milwaukee: Round eight preview

WHAT: Milwaukee 100, eighth race in 14-race 2005 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season. WHERE: The Milwaukee Mile, 1-mile asphalt oval WHEN: 1 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, July 24 DISTANCE: 100 laps/100 miles CARS: Dallara chassis; Infiniti V8 ...

Milwaukee 100, eighth race in 14-race 2005 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season.

The Milwaukee Mile, 1-mile asphalt oval

1 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, July 24

100 laps/100 miles

Dallara chassis; Infiniti V8 engines; Firestone tires

2004 -- Paul Dana

ESPN2, 3 p.m. (EDT), July 28

SCHEDULE: (all times local; subject to change)

Friday, July 22
10:15-10:45 a.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice
3-3:30 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice

Saturday, July 23
9:30-10 a.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice
11:30 a.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series qualifying
3-3:15 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series warm-up

Sunday, July 25
Noon -- Milwaukee 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race (100 laps/100 miles)


Menards, Inc. to play host to local race: Menards, Inc., a chain of home improvement stores based in Eau Claire, Wis., is the co-title sponsor of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. The company has more than 200 stores in 10 states and has been the co-title sponsor of the series since September 2003.

Tightest points battle in series history: This is the most competitive season in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history, with four race winners in seven races. Wade Cunningham leads Travis Gregg by 22 points, with three other drivers within 59 points of the lead. Jaime Camara, who won last weekend at Nashville, is three points behind Gregg for second. After seven races in 2004, 86 points separated first and second place. In 2003, the top two drivers were separated by 113 points after seven races, while that gap was 54 points in 2002.

Cunningham leads points race despite lack of a win: Wade Cunningham, a former world karting champion, holds the series points lead despite being winless in his rookie season in the series. Cunningham recorded an IRL record four consecutive second-place finishes earlier this season. He is the only driver to finish in the top five in every event this season, tying the Menards Infiniti Pro Series record with seven consecutive top-five finishes. He shares the record with past series champions Thiago Medeiros and Mark Taylor, and three-time race winner P.J. Chesson. Cunningham also is the only driver to complete every lap so far this season.

Drake competing in 11 races in 11 days, including three races at The Milwaukee Mile: The Milwaukee 100 will be the 11th race in 11 days for Menards Infiniti Pro Series rookie Jay Drake. Drake also competes in USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Silver Crown events and is the reigning National Sprint Car champion. Drake, who finished third at Nashville last weekend, will compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, Silver Crown and Midget races at Milwaukee this weekend. Here's a breakdown of Drake's schedule since July 14:

Sam Schmidt drivers rank second, third and fourth in points: Sam Schmidt Motorsports established itself as the team to beat in 2004 when driver Thiago Medeiros dominated the Menards Infiniti Pro Series with six victories in 12 races. This year, the Schmidt camp boasts three drivers fighting for the series championship. Travis Gregg ranks second. Jaime Camara, winner of the Futaba Freedom 100 at Indianapolis, is third, and Chris Festa, an Atlanta native who recently completed his freshman year at Florida State University, ranks fourth.

Sam Schmidt serves as inspiration: Team owner Sam Schmidt continues to serve as an inspiration to many people inside and outside of racing. A former IndyCar Series driver, Schmidt was paralyzed in a practice crash in 2000. He came back one year later as a team owner. Last year, his team dominated the Menards Infiniti Pro Series winning the championship with driver Thiago Medeiros. Medeiros led all 77 laps at Nashville in 2004.


NICK BUSSELL (No. 9 Vision Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I've seen the Milwaukee Mile. I was up there (July 13) with the guys, learning a new team. I wanted to see how Jon (Herb) and Jay (Drake) worked with Larry (Curry), the engineer. It'll be a new thing for me. I wasn't very comfortable at Phoenix, and I haven't got to drive on a short track since, and that place can bite you in a hurry."

JAIME CAMARA (No. 1 CELG-Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "There will be a lot of different rubber on the track when we return to race. We tested after the NASCAR Busch Series, and the track had lots of their tire rubber on it, so I know the grip will change when we get back. We'll have IndyCar Series, Silver Crown and USAC all running with us. It will be interesting to see how the track changes. I think we were the quickest in the test. It was good because it is a driver's track. You have to be cool and be aggressive at the same time. It's very hard because you want to drive too hard there, but you can't or you'll end up crashing."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Motorsport New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We were the quickest when we tested up there with the other guys. That gives us some more laps and a little more development on the gear. We'll be even faster. No reason why we won't be up at the front."

(About the points battle) "Unless people start DNFing, which they haven't, the points will stay pretty tight. The points pay all the way down, so it could come down to the last couple of races."

JAY DRAKE (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About 11 races in 11 days) "It's exciting for sure. It's a lot of long days, but it's what we do. I've always said that I would race every day if I could get the chance, so you have to be careful what you wish for. These next couple of weeks I do have to race every day. It's a lot harder than you think, but it's still a lot of fun. The hardest part is the time schedules and just trying to logistically make it all happen."

(About any adjustment period in going between different types of cars) "I'd like to think you can just jump in and go. With a Sprint Car, I've been doing it long enough where I can just jump in with limited or no practice and be right up to speed. I'd like to have a little more practice with the Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars. For the most part, it's just another day and a whole different scenario, so you just take what you've got and go with it."

(About Milwaukee) "The test went really well. We were happy with the results there. It's a tricky little racetrack. It's going to be interesting."

(About running both USAC events and MIPS at Milwaukee) "That's our game plan right now. We'll see how it works out. Friday is going to be a real busy day."

CHRIS FESTA (No. 19 SpacePak/CareCentric/SSM Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "The track is a highly technical track. It's very flat and it has very little banking, which makes it different from anywhere else that we race. We had a very good test, very solid, and we think we have some good things for the car for race weekend. I'll have to be much more patient at Milwaukee. The cars don't have the grip that they would normally have with a high-banked oval, which is going to make the drivers exercise a lot of patience with the throttle. It's pretty impressive that the track is as old at it is. That race track has seen a ton of racing heritage in so many series over the years."

TRAVIS GREGG (No. 7 Lucas Oil Products Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'd always kind of thought about Milwaukee as a track that IndyCar and Champ cars ran on, but I didn't really think about the age of the track until we went up there to test. It's amazing the track's older than Indianapolis and it's had such a part of racing history. Milwaukee is a tricky track. It's a flat oval, so you can't carry too much speed in through the corners. It should be a close race since it's really a 'driver's track.' At the test, we learned what we needed, and I really took it easy. I didn't push really hard because two of the top drivers crashed during the test, and I didn't want that to be me. I remember racing the Milwaukee Mile on an old video game, and I remember I was pretty familiar with the track's outside retaining wall."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Team ISI Kenn Hardley Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I ran there in 2000 (with Indy Lights). It's a relatively flat track. It's going to be interesting, especially for us since we didn't get any testing time there and we don't really run on any other tracks that are really at all similar to that. It's going to be tough for us to try to pick a good setup to start with there and get close right away and then be able to chip away in the practice sessions."


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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Sam Schmidt , Paul Dana , Jay Drake , Chris Festa , P.J. Chesson , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Thiago Medeiros