INDIANAPOLIS (May 18, 2003) -- Ed Carpenter won the inaugural Freedom 100 for Infiniti Pro Series cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter was able to pull away from the field, winning the first support race in the history of the Indianapolis 500 by a margin of 13.9522 seconds.
Although the official results will show Carpenter leading all but one of the 40 laps, Mark Taylor's pass into turn one on a lap 20 restart was quickly overturned when Carpenter returned the favor in turn three. By the time Carpenter arrived at the yard of bricks, he led Taylor by over half a second. Carpenter never looked back and Taylor finished third after an intense race- long battle with Cory Witherhill and Jeff Simmons.
"We made a change last night after the rain delay, and A.J. (Foyt) hit it right on the head," said Carpenter. "I have to credit that for the win today. A.J. knows this place. The car was perfect."
At one point, Taylor, Simmons and Witherhill drove three wide into turn one. Simmons, on the outside, brushed the wall and managed to retain control of the car to continue in second place.
"It was awesome. Once we got the green, it was just a matter of getting up front as fast as we could," said Witherhill, who restarted fifth today.
With less than ten laps to go, Witherhill moved into second place and successfully defended the runner-up spot despite repeated attempts by Taylor to regain the position.
"Carpenter was just gone," said Witherhill, "but it was good race for second on back."
Taylor said he had problems with the draft, which is important in a series where the cars are evenly matched. "It was a very tough race. I just wasn't able to tow past and stay in front of people. It is something I knew I had to learn when I came into the series. It feels strange to be third, but it is a good result."
Jeff Simmons and Jonathan Urlin rounded out the top-five.
Taylor widened his lead in the point standings over Thiago Medeiros 139-91 after Medeiros crashed on Saturday's opening lap.
Brandon Erwin is now third in the championship standings, tied with Jonathan Urlin at 86 points. Erwin started 19th and moved to seventh when his engine cut out. He dropped to 12th before he could refire the car. Erwin passed Scott Harrington to finish 11th.