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Cunningham Joins Dixon On Fourth Row For Indycar Debut

Wade Cunningham
2011 IZOD Indycar Series
Firestone Twin 275s meeting
Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth
June 10-11

Cunningham Joins Dixon On Fourth Row For Indycar Debut

Kiwi Rookie Wade Cunningham will join compatriot Scott Dixon on the fourth row of the grid for his IZOD IndyCar Seies in Texas this evening (US time).

In a strong start for the 26-year-old former World Karting and Firestone Indy Lights series champion's IndyCar series career, Cunningham set the eighth fastest time in qualifying this morning (US time) with a two-lap average of 48.9504 seconds at an average speed of 342km/h (214 mph).

An indication of just how good a time that is for a rookie is that it is just 00.2670 of a second slower than the pole-winning time set by Sam Schmidt Motorsport teammate Alex Tagliani and just 00.0020 of a second slower than the time set by seventh quickest qualifier Dixon.

In coming up with a time good enough for a place on the outside of the fourth row of the grid Cunningham also qualified ahead of such IndyCar Series luminaries as Australian Ryan Briscoe, top US female driver Danica Patrick and Brazilian Helio Castroneves.

He also soundly beat drivers he used to battle with in the Firestone Indy Lights class, namely Briton Alex Lloyd (25th), Colombian Sebastian Saavedra (26th) and Briton Jay Howard (28th).

Despite his competitive showing in qualifying in the #99 Creatherm/Mobile Drill International/Zephyr Technologies' car Cunningham reiterated after the session that this was his first IndyCar series meeting and that he was taking it one step at a time.

"For us, it's just about sticking to the basics. An hour of practice before qualifying isn't a lot. I hadn't been to this track since 2005 in (Firestone Indy) Lights, and this is my first weekend in an Indy car. So we were just keeping it simple by doing the basics. We bolted new tyres on and tried to adjust the balance a little bit. Time is quite tight in the session, so we didn't have time to do everything we wanted. So really for us going into qualifying was like a bit of the unknown. We have a teammate who is on pole, and we knew what they were doing. But again, we didn't want to make any hiccups that would penalize ourselves by making mistakes. We didn't go as far as Alex did in qualifying set-up. So there's a little bit of speed there and, also, I made a little mistake on my gearing entering the green flag which cost us a bit of time as well."

There will be two separate 440km (275 mile) races at the Texas Motor Speedway tonight (Saturday US time) with the first starting at 7.45pm using a grid based on qualifying times, and the second starting at 9.45pm with starting positions determiend by a blind draw conducted approximately 15 minutes after the checkered flag for Race 1.
1. Alex Tagliani 00:48.6834 215.186
2. Dario Franchitti 00:48.7708 214.801
3. Will Power 00:48.7901 214.716
4. Takuma Sato 00:48.8461 214.470
5. Ed Carpenter 00:48.8681 214.373
6. Tony Kanaan 00:48.8957 214.252
7. Scott Dixon 00:48.9484 214.021
8. Wade Cunningham 00:48.9504 214.013
9. Ryan Briscoe 00:48.9782 213.891
10. Danica Patrick 00:48.9877 213.850
11. JR Hildebrand 00:49.0776 213.458
12. Vitor Meira 00:49.0843 213.429
13. Helio Castroneves 00:49.1296 213.232
14. Oriel Servia 00:49.1777 213.023
15. James Hinchcliffe 00:49.1901 212.970
16. Ryan Hunter-Reay 00:49.1974 212.938
17. Charlie Kimball 00:49.2301 212.797
18. Davey Hamilton 00:49.2860 212.555
19. EJ Viso 00:49.3002 212.494
20. Graham Rahal 00:49.3211 212.404
21. Paul Tracy 00:49.3441 212.305
22. Mike Conway 00:49.3546 212.260
23. Marco Andretti 00:49.3631 212.223
24. Ana Beatriz 00:49.3637 212.221
25. Alex Lloyd 00:49.3940 212.091
26. Sebastian Saavedra 00:49.4075 212.033
27. Justin Wilson 00:49.4707 211.762
28. Jay Howard 00:49.4872 211.691
29. Simona de Silvestro 00:49.6835 210.855

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