ANDRETTI BECOMES YOUNGEST PRO SERIES POLE WINNER ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Saturday, April 2, 2005 -- In qualifying for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Marco Andretti became the youngest pole winner in series history...
ANDRETTI BECOMES YOUNGEST PRO SERIES POLE WINNER
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Saturday, April 2, 2005 -- In qualifying for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Marco Andretti became the youngest pole winner in series history with a lap of 1:09.3253, 93.472 mph, in the No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Andretti, the son of Michael Andretti and grandson of Mario Andretti, was moved to the rear of the field after an aerodynamic violation was found during a post-qualifying inspection, but was restored to the pole after it was determined by Menards Infiniti Pro Series Executive Director Roger Bailey that the spec variation did not improve performance and was unintentional.
Andretti became youngest pole winner in series history at 18 years and 20 days. A.J. Foyt IV was the previous youngest at 18 years, 44 days.
Jeff Simmons will start second with a time of 69.3862 seconds, 93.390 mph. Rookie Wade Cunningham will start third in the No. 33 Visit New Zealand entry after turning a qualifying lap in 69.9854 seconds, 92.591 mph.
MENARDS INFINITI PRO SERIES POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I thought I was going to have a disappointing number, but coming down the front straightaway, I didn't want to settle for second or third. We could have gone even faster, but obviously it was the first lap, so the tires weren't up to temperature, and I had a little problem with Turn 4. I think there was even more in the car."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 1 CELG -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I had little problem with traction and going out of the pits, I almost spun. The tires weren't the right temperature. Tomorrow will be a different day. And we will be ready. I think the racing will be really nice."
AL UNSER (No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was a format that I'm not really used to, but I guess it's the same for everyone else. I got my car for the race, not for qualifying. I got her in the show. We'll go out there and get them tomorrow.
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Visit New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone: "Third's not bad, it's probably better than second here, by the looks of things. I'm disappointed not to be on the pole. We just missed it a little bit." (About the decision to go out last for qualifying) "This morning it was wet, the track was damp, so I figured the track would get better with more cars on it. I'm pretty sure it did. It definitely wasn't a hindrance."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "There was more in the car. It was the first lap on the tires, and I think it was all about finding the limits of the tires. Yeah, I think there was more left in it, but we'll take it. My grandfathers and father's advice helped a little bit. They said, 'If you think about lifting, just do it, cause you could end up in the wall.'" (About the difference in equipment): "We had two test sessions, which helped a lot. I think the speed and the power comes with it. Coming to a race like this, you need to know your limits because if you cross them, you could mess your whole weekend up." (Answering Jeff Simmons question about where he plans to start the race and where he will brake): "No comment."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We had a solid run. I left some on the table there and Marco was able to take advantage of that. We had a car that could come quicker, but I'm sure Marco did too. We're going to be on the front row for tomorrow's race. I'm pretty happy with where we are." (About the package): "They do quite well. Originially, they were designed as road-course cars over in Europe. They don't do anything radical or unexpected. It's a pretty comfortable car." (Were you surprised by Marco's run): "I wouldn't say I was surprised. He comes from a good background and obviously has talent. They're doing the right things over on that team. It doesn't surprise me, I welcome it. In fact, I hope I win tomorrow and I wouldn't mind him finishing second taking some points away from the rest of these guys."