Seven rookies will take the track at Kentucky Speedway on August 14 for the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Kentucky 100. While six of those rookies have competed in previous events this season, Travis Gregg will make his series debut in the #5 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Gregg, 26, hails from Camden, Ohio, which is less than two hours from the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

"Travis tested with us twice," said Michael Crawford, team manager for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "He tested with us in the fall of 2003 in Las Vegas, and he was fantastic. We were really, really pleased with his comfort and skills in the car. He was outstanding. He tested with us again on May 1. We really had fun with him. He's a really likeable fellow. We think he'll do well in Kentucky, and we have high hopes for him in the future."

Gregg began racing go-karts when he was 7 years old and moved into SCCA Formula Atlantics for two seasons in the late 1990s. He's spent the past several years racing sprint cars on dirt tracks primarily in Indiana. He recorded two feature wins at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway.

"I'm going to try and make it a learning weekend," Gregg said of his plans for his first race weekend in a Menards Infiniti Pro Series car. "We still want to try and be fast, but we don't want to jump ahead of ourselves and get into trouble. You can see that worked well with P.J. Chesson who was able to win in his fourth race."

Chesson, a 25-year-old World of Outlaws veteran, debuted in the series at Kansas Speedway on July 4 with an eighth-place finish for Mo Nunn Racing. Two races later, he recorded his first podium finish with a second-place effort at Milwaukee. Chesson comes to Kentucky following his first victory at Michigan on August 1.

"We're still riding the high from the victory in Michigan and hope to keep the momentum going this weekend," Chesson said. "Kentucky represents another new track for me, so we'll need to take it slow initially and build up our confidence. As a team, we've come an incredibly long way in such a short period of time. I'm looking forward to getting on track this week."

Another newcomer eyeing Victory Circle is Al Unser, son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. Like Chesson, Unser entered Menards Infiniti Pro Series competition at Kansas. The third generation racer has recorded three third-place finishes in his first four races, and is coming off his first pole position at Michigan.

"This basically says we can do it," said Unser of his Western Union Speed Team entry. "We can get out there. I'm having lots of fun racing here and everywhere we go with the IRL series."

All of the rookies will have to contend with series points leader Thiago Medeiros who is looking to build on his 86-point lead in the points standings.

"Kentucky is another speedway where there will be some very close racing," Medeiros said. "We know going in that we'll have a good setup for the weekend. We're still fighting for the championship, which is one reason we didn't push too hard in Michigan. We're looking to get the maximum number of points every time out."

Medeiros established an IRL record earlier this season when he won four consecutive races. The 22-year-old Brazilian finished second in two other races, including the race at Michigan, in the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.

Gregg moves into the #5 car vacated by Arie Luyendyk Jr. Luyendyk, fourth in the points standings, will drive the #27 AFS Racing entry for the remainder of the season.

 

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