IPS: Homestead: Friday practice notes

Rookies reign in first day of Infiniti Pro Series practice at Homestead. HOMESTEAD, Fla., Friday, Feb. 28, 2003 -- The new guys on the IRL Infiniti Pro Series block staked their claim Feb. 28, taking four of the top five spots in the opening day...

Rookies reign in first day of Infiniti Pro Series practice at Homestead.

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Friday, Feb. 28, 2003 -- The new guys on the IRL Infiniti Pro Series block staked their claim Feb. 28, taking four of the top five spots in the opening day of practice for the Western Union 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Rookie Thiago Medeiros was fastest overall in two sessions of practice at 32.6014 seconds, 165.637 mph in the No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Tom Wood was second at 32.7319, 164.977 in the No. 9 Super 8 Motels/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry on the 1.5-mile oval. Both laps came in the morning session.

Medeiros, from Brazil, is making a quick transition from South American road racing to American oval racing.

"I'm still learning," Medeiros said. "Everything here is new to me. We did a test here two weeks ago, and the communication between (engineer) Thomas (Knapp) and me is very good.

"I came from road circuits, and the driving style is completely different on ovals. But I came from South American Formula 3, and the balance of the car is very similar to the Infiniti Pro Series car. Thomas has helped me to adapt. I know I can win some races, but I'm still learning. I'm a rookie. I'm very happy."

The season opener is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. (EST) Sunday on the 1.5-mile oval. Pole qualifying is set for noon Saturday, preceded by a practice at 8:15 a.m.

Wood showed consistency during the two sessions of practice today, recording the second-fastest lap in both. Medeiros slipped to seventh in the afternoon session. Wood competed in three Infiniti Pro Series events last season but still is classified as a rookie this year.

"There were a lot of good drivers last year, but there are a lot more good drivers this year," Wood said. "I think you're really going to have to step it up to compete in this series. It is a stepping-stone to the IndyCarÔ Series cars. It's the pathway to the IndyCar Series."

Arie Luyendyk Jr., who finished second in the series standings last season, was third overall at 32.7722, 164.774 in the No. 5 entry fielded by Sinden Racing Service.

"Our first session was good, but then we changed some things, and we've been getting slower all day," Luyendyk said. "The track changed a lot, and my car was a bit evil.

"This track is unique. There is not much downforce, and the banking is minimal. With the wind, it can be quite hair-raising when the car isn't correct. You have to have the car dialed in."

Rookie Paul Dana was fourth overall at 32.8124, 164.572 in the No. 24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. But Dana led the afternoon session at 33.0590, 163.344.

Rookie Mark Taylor rounded out the top five overall at 33.0097, 163.588 in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther entry fielded by two-time IndyCar Series champion Panther Racing.

For ticket information for the season-opening Western Union 100 and Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami, call (305) 230-RACE, visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or any Ticketmaster outlet.

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Sam Schmidt , Tom Wood , Paul Dana , Thiago Medeiros , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing