CUNNINGHAM SEEKS ROAD-COURSE ADVANTAGE INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005 -- With his karting and road-racing background, Wade Cunningham sees the Sonoma 100 at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 28 as a golden opportunity to extend his Menards...
CUNNINGHAM SEEKS ROAD-COURSE ADVANTAGE
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005 -- With his karting and road-racing background, Wade Cunningham sees the Sonoma 100 at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 28 as a golden opportunity to extend his Menards Infiniti Pro Series points lead.
Cunningham has a 21-point lead over Travis Gregg in the most competitive season in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history (five winners in 10 races). Four other drivers are within 74 points of the lead. Gregg has recorded three victories, while Cunningham set a series record by finishing in the top five in 10 consecutive races.
After 10 races in 2004, 95 points separated first and second place. In 2003, the top two drivers were separated by 71 points after 10 races.
"We've got to go to Infineon and Watkins Glen International (Sept. 25) to maximize our potential, because it is quite high," said Cunningham, driver of the No. 33 Motorsport New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for Brian Stewart Racing. "We definitely are going to be expecting to run right at the front. We've got to make sure we keep it on the island and finish both of those races to keep the points high."
Races at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway and 2-mile California Speedway sandwich the race at the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International course.
"You can't really tell what's going to happen at Chicago and California, which are big drafting tracks," he said. "I think we need to go there with a lot of points in hand and then play it so we don't have to take all the risks that other people might need to at the last race of the year."
Gregg, who has three victories from the pole position and finished third Aug. 21 at the 1-mile Pikes Peak International Raceway, earlier this month participated in a three-day course at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School at the facility with Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Jaime Camara to hone his road-racing skills.
"Infineon Raceway is a very challenging track," the driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil Products/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car said. "It has elevation changes, off-camber turns and blind corners. The track looks like it should be a lot of fun in our Menards Infiniti Pro Series race cars. I'm hoping it's what I need to really step up my road course performances so I can stay in the points chase.
"It's awesome that we'll be racing in California's wine country, but it's going to be kind of bittersweet. We'll get to enjoy the scenery but no fruits of labor from any of the vineyards since drinking and racing probably aren't the best combination -- though I have to admit, champagne in Victory Lane is incredible. I'll have to save the rest of the sampling for another trip."
Practice for the Sonoma 100 beings Aug. 26 with qualifying set for Aug. 27.
The Menards Infiniti Pro Series season continues Aug. 28 with the Sonoma 100 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 on Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. EDT.