JUNE 11, 2005


Festa Takes Third in Firestone 100 at Texas Motor Speedway


FORT WORTH, Tex. - Things are big in Texas but nothing was bigger than the way Sam Schmidt Motorsports dominated the Firestone 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday.


Travis Gregg, the 27-year-old from Camden , Ohio , led all but one lap from the pole and captured his second race victory of the season. In the meantime, he retook the lead in the Infiniti Pro Series standings. That led to standing backflips in victory lane, a Gregg trademark the series first saw with his win in the season-opening event at Miami in the #7 Lucas Oil Special.


Chris Festa of Atlanta , Ga. , Gregg's 19-year-old teammate and outside pole winner, brought home a strong third-place finish in his #19 Western Union/CareCentric entry and maintained fifth in the series standings, though moving well within shot of third. Jaime Camara, the 24-year-old Brazilian native living in Miami , drove his #1 CELG/Goias entry to a ninth-place finish and is in third in the IPS standings. P.J. Abbott, who drove Schmidt's fourth entry, finished 11th, retiring after 50 laps.


"It was totally awesome to qualify 1-2-3 ," exclaimed Schmidt.  "The crew works extremely hard on these superspeedway setups and qualifying 1-2-3 is a testament to that.  It's great that Travis could collect all the points available, 53 - it'll really help us in the points chase.  It was disappointing that Chris couldn't come in at least second, but that's what this is all about.  Last year, Travis ran behind Thiago (Medeiros, 2004 MIPS Champion) all 67 laps and finished about a foot behind him and I think Chris learned a lot hear today and I think it won't be long before Chris wins a race.


"Obviously I'm disappointed with Jaime's day.  We must have just missed the setup there, he was not happy in traffic.  That happens sometimes.  Hopefully it happens a lot less than more.  I'm not really sure what happened with P.J. (Abbott), it looks like he might have gotten down on the transition and lost the back end of the car.  I've been there at this place and it's not a pleasant place to be.  All in all, it was a good day for us, and we'll pack up three complete race cars and head back to Indy."


Gregg was obviously excited with his new points lead and his second race victory of the year.


"I knew starting from the pole that I had a good shot at the win.  I kept clean and smooth, and I knew it would be hard for guys to get around me on the high side if I stayed down low, that's just the way this track is at this track," smiled Gregg.  "We had a good race and got Lucas Oil a lot of air time watching the storm of cars behind us.  I'm sure Chris wanted to get around me, he actually led a lap just before the last caution - he'll get his win soon!"


With race winner Gregg doing back-flips in victory lane behind him, teenager Chris Festa, a student at Florida State University , talked to the media about his third place finish.


"I'm pretty happy with today, it worked out well.  I was calm and collected while the guys behind me were trying to pull around me on the high side, I just stayed in my line and knew they couldn't get around me if I didn't make a mistake," Festa said.  "We got some very good, valuable points which we needed.  I'm really excited to take this performance to Indy's road course - a place where I feel like I can really run well.

 "Basically, our plan was at the beginning of the race to fall in behind Travis and draft him and I together for the whole race and build out a little bit of a gap," Festa said. "Unfortunately, Wade (Cunningham, who finished second) and Jay (Drake, whom Festa beat out for third) had good cars as well, so they were able to keep with us and really dice with us. So that didn't really work out for us the way we planned. 

"We got to the end of the race, about two laps to go is when the crew came on the radio and said, 'All right, we go two to go, got to make a move, now is the time.' That's when I started trying to get around Travis. I just didn't time it quite right. Wade was able to get underneath me and take second place away from us. But it was a good race. We gave the crowd a very good race today. At least we can feel good about that."

Camara's dominance last race in his #1 CELG - Goias - Sam Schmidt Motorsports race car at Indianapolis made this weekend's ninth-place finish harder to take.


"I didn't find the best line on the track today and my car wasn't very good in the draft.  I did what I could do with what I had.  The car was a good car, it was kind of neutral when I was by myself - I could run very fast, but when I was in traffic, it just wouldn't work.  I learned a lot for the next oval-track race," said Camara, obviously disappointed with the finish coming off such a dominating performance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway just two weeks ago.


The #11 Tan Rio - Millenium Aire entry driven by Texan Abbott retired from the race after completing 50 laps.  Abbott was making his second start for Sam Schmidt Motorsports and had many local fans, business and family members trackside to watch the Firestone 100.


ESPN-2's television broadcast of the Firestone 100 is scheduled for 3 p.m. (Eastern) June 16. The next race for the Infiniti Pro Series is Saturday, June 18, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. That will be televised Thursday, June 21, on ESPN2 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.



FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:  Williams Company of America, Inc. (704) 660-0796