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Quintanilla Much More Qualified


FONTANA — Last October, Rolando Quintanilla of Calabasas made his Indy Lights debut at California Speedway.

Quintanilla, a sophomore at Pepperdine with a double-major of international business and political science who hopes to graduate in April, started 17th and worked his way to third place before crashing on lap 32 of the 50-lap race, finishing 18th.

Saturday, Quintanilla qualified a career-best sixth for today's Dayton Indy Lights 100 by averaging 183.486 mph around the two-mile oval.

Quintanilla's teammate, Felipe Giaffone of Brazil, captured the pole at 185.025, and Chris Menninga of Pella, Iowa, qualified owner Eric Bachelart's third car ninth at 183.251.

"[Having] Felipe up front [is] real good, because I can stay with him and draft with him [during the race]," Quintanilla said.

Quintanilla's previous best start was ninth at the Target Grand Prix of Chicago on July 30 at Chicago Motor Speedway.

He has two eighth-place finishes, Oct. 1 in the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston on a street course and July 22 in the Detroit News 100 at Michigan Speedway--which has the same configuration as California Speedway.

"I've learned patience since [last year]," Quintanilla said. "After running Michigan and finishing Michigan, I learned that a race can change from lap to lap, and that you have to be patient and trust that you have a good car under you."

Quintanilla was 12th fastest in practice Friday at 187.331, and 10th fastest in Saturday morning's practice at 189.267. He said the track was slippery during qualifying, which was held after the Motorola 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck series race.

"I thought people were going to go quicker," he said. "The track was a lot slower than it was [Saturday] morning, because there was a lot of rubber and oil on the track from the trucks."


Ronnie Hornaday III, formerly of Palmdale, was looking at the Motorola 200 as a learning opportunity, and his first lesson came on the the second lap in the form of a refresher course about driving aggressively before the tires have reached operating temperature.

Hornaday spun coming out of turn two while attempting to pass Lance Norick, bringing out the first of three caution flags.

"I got on the gas and there she went," Hornaday said. "I got over-anxious."

The spin left flat spots on both rear tires, and Hornaday's crew only had time to change right side tires. The flat spot caused vibration at speed, and Hornaday fell two laps behind before he finally made a green-flag pit stop, which cost him a third lap.

Hornaday did not lose any more ground and finished 23rd. He followed NASCAR Winston Cup regular Ken Schrader--who finished 17th--for the final five laps.

"I wanted to see what I could learn from him," Hornaday said. "At the start of the race, I'd give myself an F, but I learned quite a bit this weekend and for that, I'd give myself between a B and an A+."

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