Rookie Medeiros wins Infiniti Pro Series pole for Western Union 100
HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, March 1, 2003 -- Rookie Thiago Medeiros will make his first IRL Infiniti Pro Series start from the pole March 2 after capturing the top spot for the Western Union 100 in qualifying March 1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Medeiros, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, turned a lap of 32.1756 seconds, 167.829 mph in the No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone to claim the pole. Fellow rookie Mark Taylor will start on the outside of the front row after qualifying second at 32.4509, 166.405 in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther entry.
Capturing the pole continued a weekend of dominance for Medeiros, a veteran of South American road racing who stands above the rest of the Infiniti Pro Series field at 6-foot-5. He turned the fastest speed of practice Friday and led practice this morning on the 1.5-mile oval.
"I'm very happy," Medeiros said. "This is my first experience with the oval circuits. It's my first race here. This is the best way to start the season. I'm pretty happy, but the most important is the race.
"We have a very good car, good balance. The draft of the car is very different because you lose a lot of downforce. We're still working."
The Western Union 100, the first race of the Infiniti Pro Series season, is scheduled to start at 10:10 a.m. (EST) March 2. Highlights will be televised on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) March 7.
Series veteran Arie Luyendyk Jr. will start third after a lap of 32.7755, 164.757 in the No. 5 entry fielded by Sinden Racing Service. USAC short-track star Aaron Fike will start his second Infiniti Pro Series season from the fourth spot after a lap of 32.7765, 164.752 in the No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Rookie Jeff Simmons rounded out the top five at 32.8507, 164.380 in the No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg entry.
Tricky conditions created by gusty winds caught three drivers during qualifying Rookies Tom Wood and Paul Dana crashed during their runs. Neither driver was hurt, and both will join Ed Carpenter -- who was unhurt during a crash in morning practice -- at the rear of the field. Matt Beardsley also will start from the rear after spinning in qualifying. He made no contact with the wall.
For ticket information for the season-opening Western Union 100, call (305) 230-RACE, visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or any Ticketmaster outlet.