Inaugural Freedom 100 Top-Three Finishers Press Conference May 18, 2003, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ed Carpenter, Cory Witherill, Mark Taylor Part 1 of 2 MODERATOR: We're ready to get started with our post-race press conference for the...
Inaugural Freedom 100 Top-Three Finishers Press Conference May 18, 2003, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ed Carpenter, Cory Witherill, Mark Taylor
Part 1 of 2
MODERATOR: We're ready to get started with our post-race press conference for the Freedom 100. We have the winner of the inaugural Freedom 100, Ed Carpenter. We do have the top three joining us. We'll start off with brief comments from each of the top three, then open it up for questions to the media. Your winner today is Ed Carpenter. We'll start off with you. First of all, just sum up what this race meant to you by winning it.
ED CARPENTER: It means a lot. Ever since I went in that car, it's just been perfect. We hardly had to make any changes. Seemed like we were chasing the gearbox like everyone else here. We hit it dead on today. And I think that's what got us in the victory circle today.
MODERATOR: When you looked in your rearview mirror, saw the close racing behind, were you glad to see that?
CARPENTER: Yes. I mean, Mark definitely had me worried on that restart. I bobbled a little bit, and he got a real good run and got by me. I think the gear change we made just let me accelerate the short chute and get a good run on him off (Turn) 2, able to get by him off the backstretch. That opened up Mark for some more racing. I think that's what allowed me to get away. Once I was out of drafting range for them, I think it was going to be hard for him to catch me. I mean, the car was real strong. It's been strong since we got here.
MODERATOR: This is the fifth win for A.J. Foyt Racing in the Infiniti Pro Series, but Ed's inaugural win. His best finish going into today was second at Kentucky Speedway last year. Cory, great racing with Mark today. Talk about your race.
CORY WITHERILL: It was close. I mean, we just started the race, you know, continuing from yesterday. Throughout the whole night, I just kind of mentally prepared myself, how to get to the front, if I was in certain positions, what would I do. I got to those situations, I already had it planned out what to do, just moved my way up to the front. Once I got there, just tried to maintain my position and stay in the same spot. If I lost it, which I did a couple times, just how to get back up there again.
MODERATOR: Talk about the delay overnight. What goes through a driver's mind, how difficult it is to start a race, then have it stopped, restart the next day?
WITHERILL: For myself, considering I started from the seventh position, to move forward, it was nothing but moving forward because that's all I had to gain. And someone like Ed, it's probably a little bit more stressful because he's on top, and all he has to do is go backwards. It was a lot easier for me now. I went out to dinner with Bob Earl, my girlfriend, a few other people. Kind of had a relaxing night, just kind of thought things through. That was it.
MODERATOR: Cory is a previous winner in the series, winning at Nashville in 2002. Third place is Mark Taylor, who won the first two races of this year's season. Mark, you mentioned on the PA about gearing. Talk about the gearing selection.
MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, we had a long top gear, and it just meant that we weren't able to stay up front for very long, weren't able to drag it through the corners as much as we wanted to. Although I got passed Ed at the beginning, he was able to get a good run on me coming through. Once he got past, I lost too much momentum to be able to stay behind him. Unfortunately, he got away and ended up fighting for second place. I was trying on the last lap, because I knew if I got past with a couple laps to go, it would be quite easy to repass me. I was trying to do it so he didn't have enough time to get back past me. Unfortunately, for me, Cory did a great job of keeping me behind. I just mistimed it on the last lap, and he was able to keep it out front.
MODERATOR: Ed, about the delay overnight, how difficult on you was it?
CARPENTER: It was frustrating. I just kind of took the mentality, once yesterday was over, I just kind of erased it from my mind, went through my whole mental process, just acted like today was a new day, and we were starting at Lap 1, just won the pole or anything else. But it's hard. I mean, we were fast, had the pole. So, I mean, it gave a lot of other guys time to improve their cars. We made some changes, too. I just hope we made the right changes, and we did. So I was really happy for my whole A.J. Foyt team. Jack (Starne) did a great job. The car was perfect today.
Q: This was the fastest track you three have ever raced on. Was there any difficulty for you in getting used to the great speeds here that you'd not seen before?
CARPENTER: I think Rick Mears said it really well in the drivers' meeting we had yesterday. He was saying this place is so smooth, perfect, the straightaways are so long, you don't really feel the speed until something bad happens. It's definitely fast, but I know last year when we raced at Michigan, the speeds were about the same, and we were just right on top of each other, racing side by side, nose to tail the whole time. It feels a lot faster when you're in heavy traffic like that than it did today here when you're more strung out.
Q: You turned several laps yesterday faster than when you qualified. How did that come about?
CARPENTER: I think the changes we made on the car last night just improved it further than where we were when we qualified. I mean, the car was perfect. I mean, we just couldn't have had it any better. The chassis was perfect. The gearing was perfect. It was a nice day for racing.
Q: Ed, with the frustration yesterday, not being able to complete a green-flag lap, to have the very first lap restart get stopped with yellow, how frustrating was that starting to be?
CARPENTER: Yeah, it was kind of like deja vu. I was wondering if we were ever going to get the race started. Finally after the next restart, we got going good. I was a little mad for a second when Mark went by my. I was like, "Man, all these restarts are killing me." Just hung in there, got a good run, got it back. I'm just happy to get the race. All that other stuff is behind. I hope everyone is OK that was involved in the crashes.
Q: Cory, I noticed when you were Mark were dueling, you were low, even going through the corners, you very seldom got up to the wall. How were you able to stay so low all the way around?
WITHERILL: We just got the car set up to do it. It's just a matter of having a car that can handle and be able to put it everywhere you can on the track. Each corner, they're almost identical, but there's certain characteristics about it. Just a matter of knowing the corners. Obviously, I have 500 miles of race experience around this place. I had a great car. The team gave me an excellent car that handled well and was pretty fast. It's not a big deal.
Q: Ed, how good an advertisement is doing well here for your IndyCarTM (Series) aspirations? Is it more important to do well here maybe than win the championship?
CARPENTER: I don't know. Any time you win a championship, it can do a lot for career. This is definitely a big stage right here in Indianapolis. All the IndyCar (Series) owners are right here, they're out on the track right now. It's pretty huge. I want to move up in the IndyCar Series. I think this win has put me one step closer.