Cunningham Leads Final Honda Indy 500 Qualifiers

Cunningham Leads Final Honda Indy 500 Qualifiers

Wade Cunningham led the final three Honda-powered drivers Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as qualifying concluded for next weekend’s 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.  Cunningham posted a four-lap average of 223.258 miles per hour in his A.J. Foyt Honda-Dallara to qualify 26th, the second-fastest run in Sunday’s final qualifying.

Cunningham’s teammate, Mike Conway, completed his own four-lap run of 222.319 mph to qualify 29th. Rookie Bryan Clauson, who crashed during his first qualifying attempt on Saturday, climbed aboard his repaired Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda Dallara today to qualify 31st, with a four-lap average of 214.455 mph.

Four Chevrolet-powered entries and two Lotus Dallaras made successful qualifying runs on Sunday to complete the 33-car starting field. The 2012 Indianapolis 500, the first with engine manufacturer competition since 2005, includes 15 Honda-powered drivers, 16 from Chevrolet and the remaining two using Lotus engines.

Activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway resume on Friday with the traditional final practice session, known as “Carb Day”. The 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 starts at 11 a.m. EDT Sunday, May 27, with live television coverage on ABC.

Wade Cunningham (#41 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda) qualified 26th for his first Indianapolis 500: “It’s been a long road for me to Indianapolis. I got to the States in 2004, so eight years of hard work and commitment, but this is a very proud day for me. I know my parents are proud, as are all my sponsors and supporters who have helped me through the years. We ran quicker [in qualifying] than we did this morning in practice, so we found a little bit of speed. If we had run that speed yesterday, we would have been comfortably in the first-day qualifiers. I guess we underestimated Indianapolis a little bit and we got ourselves caught out with circumstances [during Saturday’s qualifying]. But we did it in the end, which is the most important thing. Qualifying is not a reflection of our performance, we’ve been strong in the draft at times and strong by ourselves. So, as long as we make good decisions, now through race day, there’s no reason we can’t be fighting for a top-10 in the race.

Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development): “Congratulations to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, who have ‘punched above their weight’ throughout this month. The team demonstrated excellent speed in practice and backed it up with Joseph Newgarden delivering our best qualifying performance on Saturday. The team also demonstrated its determination with its rapid recovery after Bryan Clauson’s accident yesterday, to qualify their second car today. While overall, our qualifying results were disappointing, our focus is now directed 100 per cent towards winning next Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.