Race Report MAVTV 500 Fontana

Report – MAVTV 500

FONTANA, Calif. Sept. 15, 2012—In the shadows of Hollywood, the IZOD IndyCar Series season finale at Auto Club Speedway packed enough drama for a blockbuster movie—with all of the subplots.

When the checkered flag flew for race winner Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay finished fourth to edge out Will Power for the 2012 series championship, despite entering the race 17 points behind the Team Penske driver. Hunter-Reay’s impressive drive also netted him the AJ Foyt trophy for winning the Oval Track championship. It was the first title for team owner Michael Andretti since 2007 when Dario Franchitti won it.

Wade Cunningham drove the ABC Supply Honda to a 14th place finish which was a triumph of sorts for Cunningham who was tapped to drive when regular season driver Mike Conway stepped out. On Wednesday during testing at the 2-mile superspeedway, Conway announced that he no longer wished to compete on oval tracks.

Cunningham flew in Thursday and did a shakedown run in the No. 14 car. In the Friday morning practice session he ran a total of 28 laps. He qualified 23rd that afternoon, but in the final practice that evening, Cunningham spun and hit the wall in Turn 2. He was “exploring different lines on the track” when he misjudged the seams on the track which caused his car to spin.

The ABC Supply crew repaired the car overnight which included having to switch out the engine, replace the undertray, right side suspension and uprights, and repair some of the bodywork.

Qualifying Report:  MAVTV 500

Wade Cunningham stepped back into an Indy car for the first time Thursday since the May 26th Indianapolis 500 for a quick shakedown run. Friday, he qualified the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda in 23rd spot for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. However, because of an unapproved engine change, Cunningham will start 24th on the 26-car grid.

Cunningham’s two-lap average was 209.526 mph.

Cunningham had less than 40 laps in the car at speed -- in part due to an issue with the Honda engines in the morning practice which Honda wanted to rectify before the teams ran any more laps.  He ran his fastest laps during his qualifying run. The first lap – a warmup lap—was 210.5 mph and his first qualifying lap was 210.4 mph. However, the second lap was slower – 208.6 mph and the average came to 209.5 mph.

“It’s not too bad-not great on the timesheets but it’s not too uncomfortable,” Cunningham said afterwards. “Obviously we’re just trying to make small gains for tomorrow and work on race setup. That was the first time we’d given it full welly with new tires. The winds had shifted a bit from this morning so the ends changed a little bit; I struggled with being loose in [Turn] 3 and a push at the other end, so it was a bit of a battle out there in qualifying. We missed the gearing as well so we lost a bit of momentum on that second lap and it killed us.”