IPS: IRL: Nashville: Medeiros could set new Indy Racing League record

Medeiros Eyes IRL Record Fourth Consecutive Win INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 14, 2004 -- Thiago Medeiros would establish an Indy Racing League record if he wins his fourth consecutive race July 17 in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù...

Medeiros Eyes IRL Record Fourth Consecutive Win

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 14, 2004 -- Thiago Medeiros would establish an Indy Racing League record if he wins his fourth consecutive race July 17 in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù Cleanevent 100 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Medeiros, who will turn 22 on July 24, won the Phoenix 100 on March 20, the Futaba Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 22 and the Aventis Racing for Kids 100 at Kansas Speedway on July 3. The back-to-back-to-back wins match the record IRL streaks of Mark Taylor, who accomplished the feat in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2003, and Kenny Brack, who won three in a row in the IndyCar Series® in 1998.

"You have to have a very reliable car with a good setup every weekend," Taylor said about putting together such a long winning streak. "And you have to have a bit of good fortune to go with it."

Brack echoed those sentiments of preparation and luck.

"It's very difficult in a series like this where all of the equipment is so equal so you just have to make sure the things you can control, like car preparation, car setup, are perfect," Brack said. "Then you have to have some luck having the strategy fall your way, and make sure you stay out of trouble in the races."

Brack, whose victories came at Charlotte, Pikes Peak and Atlanta, was fortunate to have built a big lead when he ran out of fuel at Pikes Peak.

"When the others stopped for fuel with only seven laps to go, we thought we could make it," Brack recalled. "We ran out of fuel coming out of Turn 4 and coasted to the finish line and won by seven seconds. That's the kind of timing and luck you need to pull off three in a row."

Taylor parlayed his winning streak and seven overall victories in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2003 into an IndyCar Series ride for 2004.

"What Thiago has done this year is similar to how we went about winning the championship last year," Taylor said. "He's dominated from the early stages and shown he's the guy to beat. He's turned a fast lap when he's needed to, and he's shown common sense when he's needed to.

"He could very easily win the championship. The first races are the most important, the toughest to win. He's put this string together early in the year. We'll see who can challenge him from here on out."

Medeiros, who hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil, holds a 75-point lead in the standings over Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Arie Luyendyk Jr. Like Taylor, he wants to use his victories to secure the championship and an IndyCar Series ride.

"I want to keep winning," Medeiros said. "That keeps me motivated and will help me move up to the next level. Winning is the only way to prove how good we are and to move up to the next level."

Medeiros has led 239 of 272 laps this season. At Phoenix, he became the first driver in IRL history to lap the field as he led wire-to-wire en route to his first victory of the season.

Medeiros captured the pole position and led all but five laps in Indianapolis before another flag-to-flag victory at Kansas.

"The Sam Schmidt Motorsports team has done a great job all season," Medeiros said. "I'm really looking forward to Nashville. I feel very confident after being the quickest in a test at Nashville, and also having run well at Kansas."

Several drivers will be looking to put an end to Medeiros' streak, including Luyendyk, Al Unser, Paul Dana, Leonardo Maia and Jesse Mason.

Luyendyk, 22, finished seventh at Kansas after top-three finishes in the previous two races.

Unser, 21, made his debut in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series with a third-place finish at Kansas.

"I'm excited I'm going to Nashville," Unser said. "We tested there earlier this year. Now that I have one race under my belt, I'm learning how some of the others race and drive. It's nice to know what they're going to do when you're along side of them. Hopefully, we'll have a good setup on the car, do well in the race and put up another podium finish."

Dana, who recorded a career-best second-place finish in Kansas, tested at Nashville's 1.33-mile concrete oval earlier this summer.

"I expect to win it," Dana said. "We were quickest at the test, quickest on full tanks, quickest with cold tires, quickest all around. The Sam Schmidt guys aren't going to lay down, but we're not going to lay down either. We had about a one-tenth of a second advantage. Hopefully, we can maintain that gap."

Mason and Maia, fourth and eighth, respectively, in the standings, each have finished in the top three this season. Maia started second at Kansas, but an accident on Lap 18 ended the third race of his career with a 10th-place finish. Mason started eighth and finished sixth.

The Cleanevent 100 is the fifth race of the 12-race season and the only race run on a concrete surface.

***

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series Cleanevent 100 will take place at 4:30 p.m (EDT) July 17 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be broadcast at Noon (EDT) July 18 by ESPN2. The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the Firestone Indy 200 at 7 p.m. (EDT) July 17 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Leonardo Maia , Paul Dana , Jesse Mason , Al Unser , Thiago Medeiros , Arie Luyendyk Jr.