While much of the focus is on the championship battle heading into final race of the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season, Integra Motorsports has already set a keen eye on 2009 by signing Wade Cunningham for this weekend's SunRichGourmet.com
100 at Chicagoland Speedway.
The weekend will see Cunningham, who took the 2005 Indy Pro Series crown in his rookie season, reunited with former engineer Doug Zister, who himself joined Integra earlier this season to head up the team's technical programme. Integra has since established a partnership with IndyCar outfit Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and has continued to develop its infrastructure in preparation for an extensive testing schedule, as well as a fully-committed assault, in the 2009 championship.
“Having a driver like Wade running with us is a great way for the team evaluate what we already have, and what we need to work on in terms of talent and resources,” said team principal David Hunt, “We want to close this season out on a high note, and set things in motion for next year. We've made a tremendous amount of progress this season, and we're looking forward to putting everything in place for 2009 and getting our test programme underway.”
Integra moved to the front of the grid in 2008 as Cunningham's fellow Kiwi Jonny Reid found his feet in the Lights category, However, a potential maiden win went begging during the Mid-Ohio round as the A1GP frontrunner led the white flag lap but mistakenly pitted instead of taking the chequered flag.
Cunningham, meanwhile, has a long history of success in the IndyCar feeder category including five wins, but has only competed on select events this season, scoring a runners-up finish at Mid-Ohio. The Kiwi, however, won the Chicagoland event in 2006 and is looking at a repeat as he formulates his own plans for next season.
“I've known David for quite some time and I'm happy he's giving me this chance to compete again at Chicagoland,” Cunningham said, “It's great to get the opportunity to work with Doug again, and I'm really looking forward to this weekend.
"Everyone is working on what we will be doing next season, and it is important for me to keep my name in the mix with new opportunities in the IndyCar Series. Hopefully, I can post a good result for the team and help them carry momentum into their off-season preparation for next year.”