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Infiniti Pro Series: Firestone 100

Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Firestone 100

Infiniti Pro Series: Firestone 100

Wade Cunningham
Chris Festa
Travis Gregg
June 11, 2005


THE MODERATOR: We have the second and third place finishers in the Firestone 100, Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series race with us. Runner-up Wade Cunningham. For Wade, this was his third straight second place finish. And in third place, Chris Festa. Wade, talk about the finish right at the end. It was as close as close could be, but unfortunately just that much short for you.

WADE CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, trying to go around the outside here, you have to drive uphill. Going around the outside at this track, it's quite banked. So trying to go around the outside of Travis right there at the end, you're driving uphill, so unless you have a lot more momentum, it's going to be pretty difficult to get past. I was that nose (indiscernible) short at the end of it.

THE MODERATOR: Chris, talk about your race. Once again, as so many times with IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series here, just some great, great action. Talk about you tried for a couple laps to go, couldn't get by Travis, just fell a little bit short, ended up in third.

CHRIS FESTA: Yeah, basically our plan was at the beginning of the race to fall in behind Travis and draft him and I together for the whole race, if we could, build out a little bit of a gap. Unfortunately, Wade and Jay had good cars as well, so they were able to keep with us and really dice with us. So that didn't really work out for us the way we planned. We got to the end of the race, about two laps to go is when the crew came on the radio and said, "All right, we go two to go, got to make a move, now is the time." That's when I started trying to get around Travis. I just didn't time it quite right. Wade was able to get underneath me and take second place away from us. But it was a good race. We gave the crowd a very good race today. At least we can feel good about that.

THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by the winner of the Firestone 100, driver of the Lucas Oil Sam Schmidt Motorsports machine, Travis Gregg. The box score of this race isn't going to tell the story. Sat on the pole, was a point leader coming in, led every lap. Not quite that easy, was it?

TRAVIS GREGG: No. I had pressure from behind the whole race, seeing the two guys behind me in the mirrors. It wasn't easy being out front. Just happy to be here today.

THE MODERATOR: What was your strategy right towards the end? First Chris gave you a strong challenge, then that last lap Wade was right there. What was your goal besides getting across the line first?

TRAVIS GREGG: Started to pick up a small push out of two. I had my in-car adjustment, my weight jacker and my sway bar, so I knew I had to keep it low coming down the back straightaway because I knew one of these two guys would get a good run, so that was my strategy, to stay slow, try to make them go around the outside, use more track. I knew it would be hard to pass. That's the way it worked out.

THE MODERATOR: Last fall you came here, ran your first Menards Infiniti Pro Series race. Finished second. What were you able to glean today from the race? Was having the experience of laps at the Speedway beneficial?

TRAVIS GREGG: I think so. Any time you're in the race car, you gain experience one way or another. I was in the passenger seat last year following Thiago. I just wanted to be in his shoes this year. That's the way it turned out.

THE MODERATOR: One year ago on a Saturday night, you were probably loading up your dirt track Sprint car ready to go off to a Sprint race. Do you kind of pinch yourself now you've had this success in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series?

TRAVIS GREGG: Yeah, I value the team that I'm with. It's one of the reasons why I'm able to do so well, you know, and great teammates. It's kind of hard to believe, but it's really exciting.

THE MODERATOR: If we have some questions.

Q. Wade, how upset or frustrated were you that you couldn't get by your teammate?

WADE CUNNINGHAM: I don't really think frustrated is the right word. They were 1, 2, 3 after qualifying. So to have Jamie pull back at the start of the race for whatever reason was a bit of a relief. If it had been three of them, quite easily the could have kept Travis daggered, and no one would have made a pass. It was definitely difficult. You know, like Chris ran the first 50 laps, 55, 60 laps right behind Travis, (indiscernible) came out just to get the air under the front of his car, so it made it pretty much impossible to get by either of those two. So, you know, I'm not really the kind of driver that wants to sit behind. I didn't want to drive around in third all day. I kept giving it the go around the outside. Jay would get past me. He's the same kind of guy. He would try to push around the outside and I would take third back. Kind of a bit of a yo-yo with that. Then the only opportunity came when Chris started trying to battle for the lead right at the end.

Q. You have had quite a successful year. Can you talk about the successful year you have had?

TRAVIS GREGG: Well, started off in Miami. Won the pole, won the race. Went to Phoenix, won the pole. Didn't finish quite as well, finished sixth. Two races after that, I came in sixth place in St. Pete, and in sixth place at the Freedom 100 in Indianapolis. Coming here, I knew I needed to step it up a little bit. We were able to win the pole. We led all the laps today. You know, like Wade was saying, it's just hard trying to pass around this track with the high banking, once you get outside, when you kind of have a run, you kind of hit a wall. Just happy to be here.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.

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