IPS: Schmidt drivers vie for pole in Texas

For the second time in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history one team swept the top three qualifying spots. The trio of drivers competing for Sam Schmidt Motorsports earned the top three qualifying spots at Phoenix earlier this year with Travis...

For the second time in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history one team swept the top three qualifying spots. The trio of drivers competing for Sam Schmidt Motorsports earned the top three qualifying spots at Phoenix earlier this year with Travis Gregg on the pole and Jaime Camara and Chris Festa starting second and third, respectively. Gregg earned his fourth career pole at Texas but his teammates swapped second and third.

"My time was nearly identical to Jaime's," said second place starter Festa. Although Gregg surpassed his teammates by a full tenth of a second, Festa and Camara were separated by 0.0112 seconds.

Gregg set the fast time on Friday's first practice session and during the final practice before qualifying, Gregg's time held up as the best in both sessions. Both Festa and Camara struggled through practice.

"We didn't have the best practice today, but I sat down with my engineer and we decided to try something different with the downforce we were running, and it paid off for the most part," Festa said. After two practice sessions Festa best lap was timed at 28.2531 seconds but when it came time to qualify Festa was over a half second faster.

Camara tried something different too, shaving nearly a tenth of a second from his best practice lap. "I used a different line for qualifying, It was a good lap," he said nervously as he waited for his teammates to complete their runs.

Wade Cunningham will start fourth. Cunningham's qualifying time was a tick slower than his best lap in practice but he was still happy with his lap.

"I think it's the quickest we've run by ourselves today," said Cunningham after stopping the clocks at 28.1327 (186.189 mph). "I'm disappointed we're not on the pole because we were strong in practice. But the race is long and it doesn't matter where you start on a track like this. The car has been good in a lot of different conditions so I'm reasonably happy and confident for tomorrow."

Jay Drake was a favorite for the pole after setting the fastest lap (187.085 mph) in the second practice session but will start fifth after qualifying at 185.506 mph. "That's all we've got I guess," said a dejected Drake. "We went the same speed we went in practice. Those guys went a little faster. Every time we run we qualify at the same speed we practice. Other guys seem to know how to pick it up a little bit. We haven't figured it out yet."

Nick Bussell will start sixth after qualifying at 28.4124 seconds (184.356 mph). "My run was really good," said Bussell. "That's pretty much what I ran in practice. I thought I might be a little quicker in qualifying trim but it didn't seem to make a lot of difference.

"The car felt good so I don't know what I could have done different. We were flat, I ran a short line, it didn't push, it didn't scrub, we were in the best gear we could pick and the lowest downforce we could run so if I had to go back and change something I wouldn't know what to change." continued Bussell. "The car was perfect."

Arie Luyendyk Jr. will start seventh followed by Marty Roth and Jeff Simmons in ninth.

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Marty Roth , Jay Drake , Nick Bussell , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Arie Luyendyk Jr.