Milwaukee: Series qualifying notes

WEST ALLIS, WIS. (Saturday, May 30, 2009) - Mario Romancini won his first career Firestone Indy Lights pole for the Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 presented by Charter. Romancini recorded a two-lap qualifying average of 49.4453 seconds,...

WEST ALLIS, WIS. (Saturday, May 30, 2009) - Mario Romancini won his first career Firestone Indy Lights pole for the Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 presented by Charter. Romancini recorded a two-lap qualifying average of 49.4453 seconds, 147.800 mph. Series points leader J.R. Hildebrand qualified second (146.927).

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Middleton, Wis., resident, and member of the Wisconsin National Guard's 1-147th Aviation Battalion, SSG Troy Kleinheinz has been named Panther Racing's "Hometown Hero" for the Milwaukee event this weekend. SSG Kleinheinz entered his military service at age 25 following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly after entering the aviation battalion, he was called to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait and later by a tour of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

Kleinheinz was later selected for a full-time position in the training office of the 1-147th Aviation Battalion and is now responsible for managing the flight operations section and provides full-time support scheduling and tracking battalion training. Most recently, SSG Kleinheinz deployed to Egypt in 2006 in support of Operation Bright Star and is again preparing for mobilization in 2010.

SSG Kleinheinz is supported by his wife Melanie, a four-year-old son Thomas, and a two-year old daughter Samantha.

During the weekend, SSG Kleinheinz will sign a specialty-made "Hero Card" with his photo and biography during the IndyCar Series autograph session on Saturday evening. Kleinheinz will sit next to Panther driver Dan Wheldon and sign alongside the 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner. The team will also honor his service during a ceremony in the National Guard's infield training unit on Sunday morning.

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Firestone Indy Lights officials have penalized the No. 36 Genoa entry 20 entrant points and fined the team an undisclosed amount for a technical violation found during the recent event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

During inspection, the team was found to be in violation of Rule 13.11(J) (Oil Supply).

Genoa may appeal the penalty as prescribed in the Firestone Indy Lights Rule Book. An appeal may result in an increase, decrease or no change to the penalty.

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

* Mario Romancini wins his first career Firestone Indy Lights pole. His previous best start was sixth at Kansas.

* Romancini set an event qualifying record, bettering Pablo Donoso's two-lap time from last year by .7129 of a second.

* This is the first pole for RLR/Andersen Racing. The team is in its third season in Firestone Indy Lights.

* J.R. Hildebrand qualified second, his third front row start of the season. He won poles at St. Petersburg 1 and Long Beach. This is his best career start on an oval. His previous best was third at Indianapolis earlier this month.

* Rookie Jonathan Summerton qualified third, his career-best starting position. His previous best start was fifth at Long Beach.

* Rookie Sebastian Saavedra qualified fourth, his fifth top-four start of the season.

* Wade Cunningham qualified fifth, his third consecutive top-five start. He won poles at Kansas and Indianapolis.

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 5 Revita/Win Brazil/Allied/RLR Andersen, qualified first): "This is my first time at this track and since I got here this morning, I've been comfortable. The car has been really good, and I was able to make two good laps. I felt really good grip on the car, and more importantly, I feel like we have a pretty good car for tomorrow's race. Like J.R. (Hildebrand) said, it will be a long race and we'll have to manage our tires for the first 50 laps because I think the last 25 laps will be tough. I'm happy to be starting on pole, but we have a long race tomorrow."

J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 26 ARPRO, second): "It was pretty good. Going into it, we thought the wind was going to be a little bit more of a factor, and so we sort of picked our gears based on that, and we ended up getting geared a bit too short for what the conditions were like. I think we have a little more speed left in it. I'm happy with starting on the front row. It's a bummer for the guys that we couldn't stick it on the pole, but I think we have a good race car. We worked on race setup all morning while these guys were working on their qualifying stuff, so I think maybe there was a little bit left in qualifying, but I feel like we're pretty well set for the race."

JONATHAN SUMMERTON (No. 9 Andersen/Allied Interior Products/Lafarge, third): "On my out lap, I had a little too much understeer, and I was hesitant because of the understeer on the first lap. I could have done more with it and been on the pole if I hadn't been hesitant because of the understeer. My line was normal, and the car was good. I just didn't make the full edge on that first lap. It was probably the easiest qualifying I've ever done even though I've never driven here before this morning, because the car was good. We have a strong car for tomorrow, and all-and-all it was good."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., fourth): "We didn't start off today where we expected. We had a small crash this morning in practice. The AFS/Andretti Green guys did a really good job putting the car back together in time for qualifying. I'm really happy with the run we had today, and I think we have a good race car for tomorrow."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, fifth): "It was a good run for what we had. This morning, in the nine laps we had, we were third-quickest when Charlie Kimball had spun out at the exit of Turn 2 right in front of us. I was setting up to pass him, and I really didn't have anywhere to go and clipped him with the right front and tore that corner off, and, unfortunately, we damaged the undertray. We were lucky for the split sessions. We actually got back out for the second one since we were in the second group because of the qualifying order. So I did get some practice in. But, unfortunately, because we missed 50 or 60 crucial laps from that first session we were just behind the eight-ball. So really, considering, it could have been a lot worse. I'm not overly disappointed. The guy that's on pole did a massive lap. I think, even with the first session, we wouldn't have had anything for him. He obviously did a fantastic job and deserves the pole. So, I'm happy for the Lucas Oil guys. We're the strongest Schmidt car in the lineup. Fifth isn't really good enough, but it's the 100 laps tomorrow that counts."

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SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
11 a.m. Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 pre-race
11:30 a.m. Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 (100 laps/100 miles)

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues May 31 with the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 on May 31 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. on June 1 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Charlie Kimball , Pablo Donoso , Wade Cunningham , Sebastian Saavedra , Jonathan Summerton , J.R. Hildebrand , Mario Romancini
Teams Panther Racing