Gregg Back on Pole, Festa Outside Schmidt Gets 1-2-3 But Really Wants It Race Day FORT WORTH, Tex. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports maintained its monopoly of the front row in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, backing up a 1-2 start at Indianapolis...
Gregg Back on Pole, Festa Outside
Schmidt Gets 1-2-3 But Really Wants It Race Day
FORT WORTH, Tex. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports maintained its monopoly of the front row in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, backing up a 1-2 start at Indianapolis with 1-2-3 start at Texas Motor Speedway. That was the result of pole qualifying Friday night at the 1.5-mile speedway.
"This is great! It's just like Phoenix,"exclaimed Sam Schmidt while en route to do the SWE Pole Award photo-shoot with driver Travis Gregg, pole winner for the third time this season. Schmidt is a true competitor, and while grinning wildly about the start of his three full-time cars at the head of the field, he's acutely focused on the big prize. "We're starting 1-2-3, but I really want it tomorrow - you can quote me on that. I want 1-2-3 when that checkered flag waves."
Gregg is getting pretty comfortable with the pole-position ceremonies, following his third pole out of five races this season. Gregg ran 187.517 miles per hour (27.9335 seconds) in his first lap of qualifying in his #7 Lucas Oil Special Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry. Chris Festa starts his #19 Western Union/CareCentric, Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry outside his teammate on the front row with a qualifying time of 28.0366 (186.827 miles per hour). Jaime Camara, pole and race winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway two weeks ago, put the #1 CELG/Goias, Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry third on the starting grid with a fast lap speed of 186.753 miles per hour (28.0478 seconds). P.J. Abbott, in Sam Schmidt Motorsports #11 entry will start 11th after persistent fuel system problems halted his qualifying effort before he took the green flag.
"Qualifying went pretty well," said Festa, a 19-year-old student at Florida State University. "We decided to run an identical setup to what Jaime ran, and it worked because Jaime and I ran pretty identical qualifying times. Today we had some trouble trying to get the car to pick up RPM down the back straightaway, we were kind of scratching our heads on it but we got it figured out. We're happy to start second, we'll be putting the race setup back up in the car and go out to race looking to win but not get carried away too soon in the race."
"The car was very good," said Camara, a 24-year-old Brazilian native living in Miami, of his race car for this afternoon's qualifying. "It's no different to qualify here than in practice, the car feels the same. Our car was very good."
Gregg, 27, of Camden, Ohio, was excited about the pole and obviously focused on one-upping his previous finish at Texas Motor Speedway -- second-place last fall to Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Thiago Medeiros.
"It's great to win the SWE Pole Award," said Gregg after winning his third pole of the season. "I ran this race last year and I started second and ran second to Thiago all race. This time, it's my turn to be on the pole and I'm looking forward to the race. It's kind of hard to believe that I'm here at Texas Motor Speedway, running with such a great team like Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Sam is an inspiration, for sure. His [race team's] success is from dedication. He travels over 140 days a year, it's incredible. He's always around at the track to talk to for advice and when you see what he does, it definitely makes you want to work harder and it makes you want to win even more."
Driving the fourth car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports this weekend, P.J. Abbott, the Texan making his second start with SSM in the MIPS.
"This is the highlight of the season for me coming back. The fans here are great, it's the local track, we're just glad to be here," said Abbott, a local from Grand Prairie. "We've got qq local businesses helping sponsor us this weekend and we're filling up the grandstands with friends, family and sponsors. [About our troubles today with the car]--the good thing about this is--it is my home track and being an instructor here for the NASCAR and Panoz driving schools, I have a lot of laps on this track. I ran this track last year [in MIPS]. We know there's a good car here, Sam [Schmidt] always gives us the best opportunity and equipment. Are we disappointed with the day, yes, but is it going to stop us from making a good run tomorrow, absolutely not - it'll give the cameras some good shots."
Saturday's Firestone 100 from the Texas Motor Speedway begins at 6:10 p.m. (EDT), and will be televised June 21st at 5 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2.