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Last lap contact sees Cunningham lucky to finish 3rd

 

New Zealand driver Wade Cunningham was lucky to hang on to third place on the final lap of this morning's Indy Pro Series race at the Kentucky Speedway after contact between his car and that of eventual winner Jay Howard.

Untitled Document New Zealand driver Wade Cunningham was lucky to hang on to third place on the final lap of this morning's Indy Pro Series race at the Kentucky Speedway after contact between his car and that of eventual winner Jay Howard.

Cunningham, 21, led 44 of the 67 laps and had just re-passed early race leader Howard when the front right wing endplate of Howard's car cut and punctured the front left tyre of Cunningham's, leaving the young New Zealand driver fighting for control at over 250 km/h.

"It was a battle just to keep the car on the track after that," confirmed Cunningham after the race."I was lucky to finish."

With Cunningham out of the way, Howard crossed the finish line 0.0190 of a second in front of rookie pole sitter Jonathan Klein for the second closest win in Indy Pro Series history.

Cunningham limped home in third with a fast closing Travis Gregg and Sean Guthrie on his tail.

Describing his race, in which he again led most of the laps, Cunningham said;

" I started from P2 on the front row of the grid and went round Jonathan on the high side, but Howard went down the low side and was in front when the first yellow (flag) came out.

"It then took me six or seven laps to get around him because he (Howard) kept pushing me high. We were like that for maybe seven laps, side by side with me on the outside until I finally got him then I led for the next 40 laps until he did the same to me (used the high groove to draft past) and the yellow flag came out with maybe five laps to go."

"We were on caution for another three laps then the green came out the lap before the white (flag). I got back past Howard on the restart at Turn 1 but he kept pushing me high then in Turn 2 he just drove into me and the endplate of his front wing cut my tyre."

Cunningham said he was not interested in a war of words with the English driver but pointed out that when he (Cunningham) and Jeff Simmons came together on the last lap of the last race of the 2005 season he was fined $US5,000 and had 15 points deducted from his points total...

Despite the last minute drama in the race Cunningham has moved up one place in the overall series points standings and now lies fifth equal with Jaime Camara.

Howard continues to lead the standings with 319 points from Klein (279), Bobby Wilson (265), Nick Bussell (243) and Camara and Cunningham (242).

There is now a break of a fortnight before the second 'double-header' meeting of the season at Northern California's Infineon Raceway over the August 26/27 weekend.

Wade Cunningham is proud to be one of New Zealand motor racing's Black Bullets. To find out more about our Black Bullets go to www.blackbullets.com

2006 Indy Pro Series Rnd 9 Kentucky 100 Kentucky Speedway Sparta Kentucky Sunday August 13 2006

Race 67 laps
1. Jay Howard 37.57.3271
2. Jonathan Klein +0.0190
3. Wade Cunningham 0.1996
4. Travis Gregg 0.2136
5. Sean Guthrie +0.3138
6. Nick Bussell 0.7339
7. Bobby Wilson +0.87512
8. Chris Festa +1.8562
9. Ben Petter +2.1369
10. Mike Potekhen +1.2556

Points after Rnd 9 of 12
1. Jay Howard 319
2. Jonathan Klein 279
3. Bobby Wilson 265
4. Nick Bussell 243
5=. Jaime Camara 242
5=. Wade Cunningham 205
7. Brett Van Blankers 179
8. Chris Festa 175
9. Alex Lloyd 156
10. Raphael Matos 154

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