Romancini claims Milwaukee Indy Lights pole
Mario Romancini received some timely advice from RLR Andersen Racing teammate Jonathan Summerton during Firestone Indy Lights qualifications.
"You can go through (Turns) 3 and 4 flat," said Summerton, who recorded a two-lap average of 146.739 mph (49.8028 seconds).
With similar setups on the Nos. 5 and 9 cars, Romancini did just that -- with track-record results. Romancini, who charged from 18th on the grid to finish third in the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will have a more advantageous starting position May 31 at The Milwaukee Mile.
Romancini, driving the No. 5 Revita/Win Brazil/Allied/RLR Andersen Racing car, earned his first Firestone Indy Lights pole with a series track-record two-lap average of 147.800 mph (49.445 seconds) for the Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 Presented by Charter. It's the first pole for the Brazilian and RLR Andersen Racing.
Summerton posted his qualifying run four spots ahead of Romancini -- the penultimate qualifier -- who had laps of 147.321 mph and 148.282 mph to bump series points leader J.R. Hildebrand off the provisional pole.
"This is my first time at this track and since I got here this morning I've been comfortable," Romancini said. "The car has been really good and I was able to make two good laps. I felt really good grip on the car and, more importantly, I feel like we have a pretty good car for tomorrow's race. I'm happy to be starting on pole, but we have a long race tomorrow."
Hildebrand, seeking his third pole start of the season in the No. 27 ARPRO car, had a two-lap average of 146.927 mph (49.7309). He's qualified no worse than fourth in the six races this season.
"Going into it, we thought the wind was going to be a little bit more of a factor and so we sort of picked our gears based on that and we ended up getting geared a bit too short for what the conditions were like," said Hildebrand, who topped the speed chart for the combined practice sessions. "I think we have a little more speed left in it. I'm happy with starting on the front row. It's a bummer for the guys that we couldn't stick it on the pole, but I think we have a good racecar.
"We worked on race setup all morning while these guys were working on their qualifying stuff, so I think maybe there was a little bit left in qualifying but I feel like we're pretty well set for the race."
Summerton (146.739), driving the No. 9 Andersen/Allied Interior Products/Lafarge entry, produced a season-high starting position and will share Row 2 with Sebastian Saavedra (146.552) in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. car for AFS Racing.
"We didn't start off today where we expected," said Saavedra, who's started on the first or second row in five of six events. "We had a small crash this morning in practice. The AFS/Andretti Green guys did a really good job putting the car back together in time for qualifying. I'm really happy with the run we had today and I think we have a good race car for tomorrow."
Wade Cunningham, the Firestone Freedom 100 winner in the No. 11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car (146.387), will be on Row 3 with Gustavo Yacaman (146.283), who is driving the No. 44 Crepes & Waffles/Tuvacol/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.
James Davison (146.166), driving the No. 21 People's Liberation/Vision Racing car, and Andrew Prendeville in the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car (145.845) will be on Row 4. Pippa Mann in the No. 16 Panther Racing entry will be on Row 5 with James Hinchcliffe.
"Being a new team, it was crucial for us to test here two weeks ago to get the car in the ballpark of where we need to compete with the leaders," Davison said. "We planned the work and now we are working the plan and getting the car ready for a good result in Sunday's Milwaukee race."