Wade Cunningham is in pole position to secure a regular ride in the coveted IndyCar series in the United States next year.
The Aucklander, 28, raced in the last round of the IndyCar championship in Fontana, California, last weekend; a last-minute replacement for A J Foyt Enterprises team driver Mike Conway, who pulled out due to "not being comfortable" with driving on oval tracks.
The Englishman suffered leg and back injuries in a 2010 crash at the famed Indy 500 in Indianapolis.
Cunningham started in Conway's absence at only three days' notice, finishing 14th in only his second IndyCar appearance of 2012. The race was only his sixth overall in an IndyCar.
Speaking to Sunday News from the United States, Cunningham, who was last year involved in the Indy Car crash in Las Vegas that claimed the life of star driver Dan Wheldon, said he felt the race would put him in the discussion for a regular ride next season.
"I think A J Foyt have been looking at drivers for next year, because I don't believe they'll stick with Mike," the Indianapolis-based Kiwi said. "It definitely can't hurt. Anyone who stepped into my position last weekend would have been in a really tough spot.
"The fact that I didn't make a complete dick out of myself must help. I worked with the team in May, during the Indy 500, and I did a pretty good job. Because they called me to replace Mike would confirm that. I would like to think that I would be at least part of the conversation they have about who they are looking at to drive next year."
A former karting world champion, Cunningham made his name in the US in the Indy Light series. After winning the competition in 2005 with Brian Stewart Racing, he went on achieve three more top four championship finishes between 2006 and 2009.
But his dream has always been the IndyCars, and his performance in Fontana will do plenty to help secure a regular ride in 2013.
If offered a position on the A J Foyt Enterprises team, it would be a one-year contract with options for further commitments.
"I knew going in that it might be one of my only shots of getting back into the IndyCars," Cunningham said. "Even though I knew it was going to be difficult, it was something I had to do." Ben Stanley
- Sunday News