IPS: Homestead: Season opener race notes

Taylor wins Western Union 100 to extend Panther streak. HOMESTEAD, Fla., Sunday, March 2, 2003 -- Mark Taylor won the Western Union 100 in his first IRL Infiniti Pro Series start on March 2, continuing Panther Racing's mastery of Homestead-Miami...

Taylor wins Western Union 100 to extend Panther streak.

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Sunday, March 2, 2003 -- Mark Taylor won the Western Union 100 in his first IRL Infiniti Pro Series start on March 2, continuing Panther Racing's mastery of Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Taylor, from London, beat rookie pole sitter Thiago Medeiros to the finish by 1.2860 seconds. He averaged 134.257 mph for the victory in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Brandon Erwin finished third in the No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.

The victory continued Panther Racing's perfect mastery of Indy Racing League events at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami track. Sam Hornish Jr. won the IRL IndyCarTM Series events at the track for Panther in 2001 and 2002, while Taylor opened Panther's first Infiniti Pro Series season with a victory.

"I can't believe I've won the first race," Taylor said. "It's my first race on an oval, first win on an oval. I can't say much more than that. The Panther guys did a great job. The car was so good. I was just happy to finish the 67 laps, and most of them in the lead.

"It's just a great feeling to win the first race this year. Hopefully we'll be able to continue on as far as the rest of the year is concerned."

Taylor, who started second, took the lead for good on Lap 35 of the 67-lap race. Jeff Simmons led Taylor by approximately a second when Simmons' No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone spun into the grassy apron adjacent to Turn 2 while racing in traffic, eliminating him from the race.

"The lap before going into (Turns) 1 and 2, I picked up a little bit of understeer behind, I believe, the No. 24 (Paul Dana)," Simmons said. "I was hoping he was going to make way because we were about to lap him. He didn't in (Turn) 3 and 4. Then I picked up a big understeer again.

"My car was better in (Turns) 1 and 2, so the next time through there I tried to time a pass so I could get him through there. For some reason that time, I picked up an oversteer. I thought I was about to save it."

Taylor then fended off Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Medeiros over the final 32 laps for victory. He led 56 of the 67 laps overall.

Luyendyk ended up fourth in the No. 5 Sinden Racing Service entry, with rookie Jonathan Urlin rounding out the top five in the No. 33 Budget Rent A Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Medeiros started from the pole in the No. 36 Genoa Racing entry, but Taylor wasted no time taking the lead, passing Medeiros in the first turn of the race.

"It was a great start to the race," Taylor said. "I was able to get out front. The car felt really good at the beginning. I was able to hold it. Through the race I picked up a bit of an understeer. I think the wind might have picked up. I just tried to settle down and keep the car in good shape."

Simmons passed Taylor for the lead between Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 24 and stayed out front until his spin.

Rookie Lloyd Mack, the first African-American driver in the series, didn't start the race after hitting the wall in Turn 4 during morning practice. Mack was unhurt, but there wasn't enough time to make repairs on his No. 6 On-Line Financial/Barstow Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

The next Infiniti Pro Series race is Saturday, March 22 at Phoenix International Raceway.

-irl-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Brandon Erwin , Sam Schmidt , Jeff Simmons , Paul Dana , Jonathan Urlin , Sam Hornish Jr. , Thiago Medeiros , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing