Wade Cunningham has had success at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Firestone Indy Lights. Now the 27-year-old New Zealander is aiming for success in the Indianapolis 500 with A.J. Foyt Racing.
Cunningham will attempt to make his first Indy 500 start, driving the Honda-powered No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply car. Alfe Heat Treating will be an associate sponsor on the No. 41 car for the second year in a row.
“Driving for A.J.? He’s a legend,” Cunningham answered when asked about driving for Indy’s first four-time winner. “A.J.’s from a different era but he’s raced front engine roadsters at the Speedway and ended with the turbo-charged CART Indy cars, so he’s had an amazing career, and his is a very storied team, so it’s quite an honor to drive for him.
“Indy means more to me than anything else. Winning at Indy in the Firestone Indy Lights Series is the only thing that kept my career on track so it’s important to me to go there and do well in IndyCar and prove that the results can translate.”
Foyt certainly hopes those results will translate. In five of Cunningham’s six starts in the Firestone Freedom 100, he won three times, and placed second and third. Incidentally, Foyt fielded the winning car for Ed Carpenter in the inaugural running of the race in 2003.
Foyt was aware of Cunningham’s success at the Speedway in Firestone Indy Lights but pointed to Cunningham’s foray into the IZOD IndyCar Series in three races last year when speaking of him.
“I knew Wade was good in the little cars (Indy Lights), but what opened my eyes was his race at Kentucky in the IndyCars,” Foyt said.
In that race, Cunningham started 15th, dropped back to 23rd and was running in the top five with less than 10 laps to go. When attempted to pass Scott Dixon for third, Cunningham got boxed in and had to lift, causing him to lose momentum. He ended up seventh.
Cunningham will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on May 10. Three days earlier, he will join full-season driver Mike Conway in testing the No. 14 ABC Supply car at Texas Motor Speedway in the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test.
Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins at noon (ET) May 12. Pole Day Qualifying is May 19. The 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast live on ABC May 27 starting at 11 a.m. (ET).
ECat is an Indianapolis-based high-performance electric bike company whose target market is the law enforcement community.