Cunningham to race for AFS in Indy Pro Series
Wade Cunningham, the 2005 Indy Pro Series champion who finished third in 2006 as the first champion to return to defend his title, will return to the series with AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing, contesting the 16-race schedule in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. entry.
"I'm excited to be coming back," said Cunningham, who missed repeating as champion in 2006 by 11 points after missing two races due to appendicitis. "This is a great opportunity. We'll be pushing hard at every race just like last year. We proved last year that you can fight to lead a lot of laps, win races and challenge for the championship without taking risks. That is our goal for the year."
Cunningham won the Indy Pro Series championship as a rookie with Brian Stewart Racing on the strength of 13 top-five finishes, including one victory and seven seconds. Last year, he led the series in victories, taking the checkered flag at Indianapolis (oval), Infineon and Chicagoland, and he paced the series with four pole positions and 310 laps led.
"Wade is consistently fast, a well-proven championship driver having won the Indy Pro Series in 2005," AFS Racing team owner Gary Peterson said. "If not for his bout of appendicitis last year causing him to miss two races, I believe he would have won the 2006 championship."
Peterson's AFS Racing team is partnering with Andretti Green Racing in 2007 to field cars for Cunningham and three-time Indy Pro Series race winner Jaime Camara. AFS Racing has made 56 starts in the Indy Pro Series dating back to the series' inception in 2002 and recorded its first two victories last year with driver Alex Lloyd. Andretti Green Racing, winners of back-to-back IndyCar Series championships in 2004 and 2005, has recorded four victories in two seasons in the Indy Pro Series.
"After last year's transitional season with four podium finishes and two wins, we had two major goals going into the 2007 season," Peterson said. "The first goal was to keep the momentum from last season and run a very competitive team this year. We want to make a real run for the Indy Pro Series championship, and with Wade and Jaime Camara we feel we can achieve that.
"The second goal for 2007 was to align AFS with a winning IndyCar Series team. We have successfully aligned ourselves with Andretti Green Racing, a fantastic team. I'm proud of the team. We couldn't have accomplished our goals more to my satisfaction. I'm looking forward to a productive and mutually beneficial season with Wade, Jaime and the entire Andretti Green Racing team."
While the partnership should strengthen both parties, it could also create an opportunity for Cunningham to test an IndyCar Series car.
"I'm hopeful this program will lead to some testing in an IndyCar Series program," said Cunningham, the 2003 CIK-FIA World Karting champion. "The testing rules only allow for AGR to earn five bonus test days, so there are no guarantees, but I'm hopeful that I'll have an opportunity." IRL PR