IPS: Chicagoland: Top three press conference

Chicagoland 100 Press Conference Aaron Fike, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Tom Wood. Ron Hemelgarn, Roger Johnson Sept. 8, 2002 MODERATOR: We have our top three finishers in our Infiniti Pro Series event decided .0075 a second. Heck of a day of racing....

Chicagoland 100 Press Conference Aaron Fike, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Tom Wood. Ron Hemelgarn, Roger Johnson
Sept. 8, 2002

MODERATOR: We have our top three finishers in our Infiniti Pro Series event decided .0075 a second. Heck of a day of racing. First off, our top three finishers, Aaron Fike, he becomes the fourth different driver to win Infiniti Pro Series competition in season. He started all six events with the Hemelgarn Johnson team. He's 19 years old, from Illinois. Stand?out in USAC Midgets Silver Crown ?? USAC has already captured the 2002 Badger Midget Series Championship with six feature wins in that series this year, and is also the national points leader and the National Midget Driver of the Year points standing. His previous best finish was a third at Nashville and considering the luck, Aaron, that you had had at both Kentucky and a couple of weeks ago at Gateway, I know this one is very, very sweet. If you could talk about bouncing back from that situation because you got caught up in an incident that was not your making, and you came back here to win today. So that has to be pretty sweet.

AARON FIKE: I've been running a lot of different series this year, so but I have been keeping busy. I just wanted to finish every race that we went out there and ran, but it didn't happen. We got caught up in a couple wrecks and just had a few problems. So, this victory is definitely sweet.

MODERATOR: Arie Luyendyk Jr. has started all six races this season, obviously with Luyendyk Motorsports, from Scottsdale, Arizona, 20 years old. You'll be 21 December 18. This is your fourth second place finish in the last five events. He was also second at Nashville, Michigan and Gateway. What's it going to take to win?

ARIE LUYENDYK JR.: I don't know. I've tried everything. No, this is probably the first second place where I've ever been disappointed after a race. I led so many laps today and thought I had it after that restart, but Aaron's car was definitely working good on the high side, and he surprised me a little bit. So congratulations to you and your team for doing a great job. Hopefully at Texas we can get a win. I think I've led three races and finished second four out of the five times I've finished. It's a little frustrating, but it's good for the championship and closing in on Foyt, and hopefully we can win this thing.

MODERATOR: You still have a shot at the championship. A.J. could have wrapped this thing up today, but instead he goes to Texas with a 28?point lead on you, 238 points for Foyt, 210 points for Arie and 196 for Ed. You still have a shot.

LUYENDYK: Definitely. We have points for leading the most laps today, and that helped. All it takes is a little misfortune on his behalf and his team and a good result for us, and it could ?? fortune could swing my way, I guess.

MODERATOR: Tom is 45 years old from Calgary, Alberta. This was his second start. Let's talk about this race, just tight corners, start to finish and there at the end it was a little bit hairy. Talk us through those last few laps.

TOM WOOD: We were hoping for a little closer race. It was a lot of fun. I stuck with Arie the whole time. We kind of worked together the whole way, it's too bad. Congratulations to them, they did a great job. He came on like gangbusters at the end. You know, we got Texas next. I think we should have a lot of fun there, too.

MODERATOR: Ron, interesting because you guys have now won with both of your drivers. Cory had a dominant race at Nashville and now Aaron wins here today. Off to a great start in this series.

RON HEMELGARN: It really is. It's exciting, obviously, to win. We've had a lot of hard times this year. We had crashes we had not prepared for, mechanical problems we had not prepared for. But to pull off a win, that's great. The racing, I've never seen anything like it. In the 25 years I've been around these type of cars, I've never seen racing like we've had today here, Indy cars and also the Pro Series, everybody is leading. There's 15 cars running for the win for this race, and then it was 11 for the Indy-car race. And I've got to say, it's got to be the tires, the Firestone tires, they are just unbelievable to grip. What can you say? It's very, very tight racing. When you go three abreast in the corner, you'd better hope those tires stay under you. So hats off to Firestone.

MODERATOR: Roger, you had fielded cars in the Silver Crown Series and went into this venture with Ron, it was announced at Phoenix early year in the year, is this what you anticipated? It's been quite a start for this series.

ROGER JOHNSON: No, actually this is much more than I anticipated. Because when something like this starts up, there's a lot of start?up anticipation problems, generally speaking, the racing is a little bit ragged. Anybody that watched this race today cannot be more enthused about what took place. Drivers from all spots are able to come for the win. I'm really thrilled to have a USAC driver up there winning, and we participate and promote in that series ourselves and every one of these guys are racing hard and looking good. It's real early in this program, but this kind of racing is great.

FIKE: I think you'll see that next week, too, in Texas. This racing it's a spec car ?? the Indy-car race was phenomenal, and this race was phenomenal. Any of the top six guys could have won the race. Me and Arie were lucky enough to be up front there. I was definitely worried about him. I was looking in my mirror the whole time, my dad wasn't saying anything to me, and he's my spotter, so I didn't ?? I mean it was just phenomenal, the week we've had here. I've had such bad luck ?? not just bad luck, just things go wrong and not my way, and this victory is just really sweet.

MODERATOR: Arie, your dad is your spotter, as well. What was he saying the last couple of laps?

LUYENDYK: I think there was like eight to go when I was behind Aaron, maybe 10 to go, or so. But he was telling me, you know, just stay in line and stay behind him because A.J. tried to pass me on the outside before that last ?? or after the yellow, I'm not sure, and had moved him all the way back on the field. And it was just important to stay in line and time your pass correctly because if you didn't make it, then you were being shuffled back. He told me just to stay behind Aaron and wait until lap four ?? lap four to go, he said, OK, try to think where you can pass him, and Aaron was just coming off, too, and so fast. And by the time ?? I could barely get to the box going through the turn, but (Turns) 3 and 4 I was definitely a lot quicker, but a disadvantage of the d?shape where it was hard to get above the person. So I had would to be beside him into 3. It was just a very difficult call. But I had Tom behind me, pushing me, trying to pass Aaron, but it just wasn't enough.

MODERATOR: Thanks very much and congratulations on a great race today.

-irl/ips-

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