IPS: Homestead: Pre-race notes, quotes, schedule

WHAT: Homestead-Miami 100, 1st race in 14-race 2005 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season. WHERE: Homestead-Miami Speedway, 1.5-mile asphalt oval WHEN: Noon (EST), Sunday, March 6 DISTANCE: 67 laps/100 miles CARS: Dallara chassis;...

WHAT: Homestead-Miami 100, 1st race in 14-race 2005 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season.

WHERE: Homestead-Miami Speedway, 1.5-mile asphalt oval
WHEN: Noon (EST), Sunday, March 6

DISTANCE: 67 laps/100 miles

CARS: Dallara chassis; Infiniti V8 engines; Firestone tires

PREVIOUS RACE WINNERS:
2004 -- Phil Giebler
2003 -- Mark Taylor

2004 SERIES CHAMPION:
Thiago Medeiros

TV: ESPN2, 4 p.m. (EDT), March 17

SCHEDULE: (all times local; subject to change)

Friday, March 4
12:15-12:45 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice
3:15-4 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice

Saturday, March 5
9-9:10 a.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series warm-up
10:30 a.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series qualifying
1:30-1:45 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice

Sunday, March 6
Noon -- Homestead-Miami 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race (67 laps/100 miles)

PRE-RACE QUOTES:

MISHAEL ABBOTT (No. 91 Hemelgarn Johnson Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Being the first woman to compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series means the world to me. I've always been proud of my accomplishments, being the first female to win a professional shifter kart race in the United States, being the first to test the Infiniti Pro Series car at Las Vegas two years ago, and now the first woman to actually compete in the series fulfills one of my life long goals."

(About Homestead-Miami) "I've driven the Homestead-Miami road course more times than I can remember and now to compete on the oval fulfills a lifetime dream, especially in my own back yard. I can't wait for the race to start."

(About Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports) "When we found the resources to compete in the 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series season, we spoke with and met with several teams. We're only committed to five races so far. The Hemelgarn Johnson team welcomed us with open arms for the partial season.

Lee Kunzman and Ron Hemelgarn were so helpful and encouraging when we approached them about the limited schedule and never once said, 'No' when we asked, 'Can we do this?' or asked, 'What if?' These two guys and their entire team are true 'racers,' and with their support, advice, experience, and encouragement we will succeed."

P.J. CHESSON (No. 36 Genoa Racing Special Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm excited about working with the guys at Genoa Racing. My brother James tested with them at Homestead in January so I know they're fast. I've never been to Homestead-Miami Speedway before, but I think I'll be able to adapt pretty quickly. We had good results last year in our first visits to a lot of tracks. The big question for me will be the road courses and Phoenix, but other than that, it should be clear sailing.

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Team New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm glad to be racing. It is what I wanted to do. Obviously, you've got to be doing ovals if you want to race in America for a career, and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm happy with the team. Everyone works really well. I need a little bit more time in the car, get to know the team a little better, and get comfortable, and then I'll be alright."

CHRIS FESTA (No. 19 SpacePak/CareCentric/SSM Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I think the series is going to be really tough this year. You've got a third-year veteran with Jeff Simmons, and the other two guys on this team (Jaime Camara and Travis Gregg) are both really good as well, and you've got some other drivers coming into the series that are pretty talented, so it's going to be a tough year for us. But these guys have won the championship, and fortunately I'm in one of their cars, so that makes things a little easier, but I'm going to have to work hard. It's definitely a realistic view for us. If not me, then the other two guys as well."

TRAVIS GREGG (No. 7 Lucas Oil Products/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Things are great. We did testing at Homestead and Phoenix, so we got a good basis for the season, and hopefully work toward the championship. I think anytime you're around a race car you can learn something. How the car handles in traffic is one of the biggest things to learn and win races and contend for a championship."

JON HERB (No. 6 AERCON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We hope to be really competitive right out of the box. The three races we did last year was testing the waters and getting ready for this year. That's behind us now. We're ready to go forward this year and be competitive and run at the front. That's what we're committed to and that's what this program is about."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "This is certainly the best chance I've had so far to try to get multiple wins and try to run for the championship. Even the first year (2003), I ran the whole season, but I didn't do any pre-season testing at all. We signed with the team five days before the first race, so this time we get a little bit of a chance to gel before the season starts. We expect to be competitive right off the bat, and obviously we're looking for a championship. We're not here to run second. We want to win races and win a championship."

-irl-

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