Cunningham Participates in Indy 500 Rookie Orientation Program
INDIANAPOLIS May 10, 2012—Wade Cunningham participated in the Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today in preparation for his bid to compete in the Indianapolis 500 later this month.
Driving the car Mike Conway piloted in the first four races of the year (although with a different Honda engine), Cunningham completed two phases of his rookie test. He will complete the final phase after the track opens for practice for all competitors on Saturday.
Tomorrow the ABC Supply team will finish up preparing two brand new Dallaras (which arrived Thursday) for Conway and Cunningham to drive starting Saturday. Per the rules, the team will have to switch the engine used today into Cunningham’s new car, the No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply car.
“It’s a proud day to be in an Indy car here with the history of IMS,” Cunningham said. “In terms of getting through rookie orientation, we didn’t finish it but we’re able to do that on the regular days of running, so we can just slide it in with the regular guys and get those laps knocked out and get signed off. We’re going to get out of the backup car now and change the motor over to our primary car and get it prepared and roll out on Saturday.”
Cunningham, the Firestone Indy Lights only three-time winner of this track’s Freedom 100, compared the Lights car to the Indy Car, saying, “The speeds are a bit higher, you’re in the corners for a bit less time than I was used to in the past in the Lights car. The Indy car’s definitely more wind sensitive and maybe a little bit more line dependent than the Lights car just because of the high speed but it’s a race car and it gives similar feedback so you just have to trust your instincts, trust your gut and your hands.”
Cunningham ran 57 laps and reached a top speed of 210.3 mph which was seventh fastest of the eight rookies in attendance for the program. Although there is a 90-minute session for the rookies tomorrow afternoon, the team will be busy prepping Cunningham’s primary car during that time. The track opens for all competitors to practice on Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m. Teams will be able to practice seven straight days in that time slot. Cunningham must complete the third phase before qualifying begins on May 19th.