Gregg Surprises All, Snaggs Pole at Pikes Peak Sam Schmidt Motorsports Starts 1, 3, 6 on Sunday FOUNTAIN, Col. -- Earning his sixth career Menards Infiniti Pro Series and his fifth of the 2005 season, Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Travis Gregg...
Gregg Surprises All, Snaggs Pole at Pikes Peak
Sam Schmidt Motorsports Starts 1, 3, 6 on Sunday
FOUNTAIN, Col. -- Earning his sixth career Menards Infiniti Pro Series and his fifth of the 2005 season, Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Travis Gregg qualified late and took the top starting spot at Pikes Peak International Raceway on a blustery afternoon.
Gregg ranked third in the combined results from the day's practice session and surprised his team owner and fellow competitors with his late pole-winning run. With a lap time of 23.3418 seconds (154.230 miles per hour), Gregg put the #7 Lucas Oil Special Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry first on the qualifying grid. Jaime Camara, a 24-year-old Brazilian native living in Miami, qualified third with a time of 23.4025 (153.830 MPH). Atlanta, Ga., native Chris Festa qualified the #19 SpacePak/CareCentric Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry sixth with a lap time of 23.7347 (151.677 MPH).
"It was awesome. Starting on the pole - you can't get any better than that," smiled Gregg. "I just ran it really hard in qualifying. I knew if I had a chance I had to pretty much run it flat all the way around the track, so that was the difference from practice to qualifying, I just let it all hang out on the first lap and backed off a little on the second. The winds from the storm front didn't make the car impossible to drive, but they affected the car enough so that something could happen if I wasn't smart. Tomorrow is going to be tough. Jeff Simmons is on the outside pole, and he's going to want to race really hard for the lead, probably on the first or second lap. I just won't let it get to me if I drop back to second early in the race because I think in 100 laps of racing there will be plenty of opportunities to pass."
Jaime Camara was in a familiar position, qualifying early in the session and waiting to see what his teammate Gregg would do late in the time trials. This time, however, Camara was waiting to see if he'd start outside the front row, or in third.
"I thought my qualifying run was OK but the wind really affected my car. I had a moment in turn four - I even told my crew on the radio 'I just had a big moment' - it was coming to the green and I had to make some adjustments to the car. I did my best lap on my second lap, that's how long it took to recover from the moment before the green flag. I think my lap was alright, but then Travis and Simmons were faster. It's OK, tomorrow we look for a tough race, and I know that I will have to have patience. It's going to be a long race, the tires are going to wear out and I just have to be constant on the lap times and be patient," said Camara.
Festa, the 19-year-old driver who'll enter his second year at Florida State University this fall, picked up a lot of speed between practice and qualifying.
"Other than the wind making the car a little unsteady, the car handled a lot better than it did in practice. I'm sure my engineer and I will still come up with changes to make the car better for the race. We adjusted the car going into last week's race and the car was really strong. I'm looking for a lot of tight competition tomorrow. It will be hard to make passes here, so the challenge will be in setting up the guy in front of you and making a clean pass," explained Festa.
Owner Sam Schmidt admitted he was at totally surprised with today's results.
"That's a total surprise," smiled Schmidt. "Travis really knows how to hang it out there for qualifying. Jaime ran a great lap, and for him and for Chris the game tomorrow will be about patience in working their way forward. Passes take some time to set up here, but we've got 100 laps. Travis may have some heavy challenges in the beginning with Simmons, but he's had some practice driving under pressure this season, if he can keep his cool, we'll be able to give the Lucas Oil car a good run tomorrow."