Kentucky 100 at Kentucky Speedway August 16, 2003 Jeff Simmons (winner) Cory Witherill (second) Thiago Medeiros (third) JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Those guys were able to get some pretty good...
Kentucky 100 at Kentucky Speedway
August 16, 2003
Jeff Simmons (winner)
Cory Witherill (second)
Thiago Medeiros (third)
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"Those guys were able to get some pretty good runs on me. I was very close to losing the lead at one point on the backstraight, and I knew that if the guy didn't get completely in front of me, I could get back by him. As soon as he noses ahead, you can actually get close enough to him to get a pretty good draft off him. I was trying to help certain guys out by where I positioned my car. When guys were running side by side, I tried to help the guy on the high side for part of the lap and help the guy on the low side for part of the lap, so that neither one of them would be able to get ahead of one another. I would be able to keep a bit of distance in the front of the pack and give us a better chance there at the end."
"The day was actually a bit of a long one. The first time that I came on the radio and asked how many laps were left, they said 25. I was like, 'Wow, we are going pretty quick.' Meanwhile they had said, like, 45. It was a great day for the Western Union Speed Team. We got that second win in a row and made up basically all the points that we could this weekend. (Mark) Taylor, with him not being able to start, it is unfortunate, obviously, for him, and I hope that he feels better. Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going, and there are a few more bad races for him. Maybe a couple mistakes or a little bit of misfortune, and we could get right back in there in the points chase."
Do you think you have found the right formula?:
"I think we have had it pretty much all year long. The mistake I made at Homestead looms much larger now. We could have won that race, or at the very least finished second there, and we would be right in the points chase right now. We just had to get over that hump. We were close to winning some races, and we just needed to get a little good fortune on our side instead of having misfortune. We finally got that last weekend in a big way, and it carried through to this weekend."
Have you reconsidered your choice of suit colors with all of this heat?:
"Yeah, actually, when we were in Kansas, it was real hot there. The guys took the little infrared gun, and when I pulled into the pits, they shot it off my chest, and it read about 120 degrees."
About his rookie season:
"We have been up front all year long. We have qualified in the top five every single race. We could have won other races, and we have just had little things happen here and there. Homestead was my fault. At Kansas, we had a wire fall off the alternator, and we were up in the top three with a great chance to win. In Michigan, we had an engine problem on the restart or we would have won there. There are other races, too. At Pikes Peak, we finished second. We have been waiting for that, to get over that hump. I was surprised it took that long to get the first win. We knew that once we finally got it, it was going to carry forward. The whole team had more confidence, and we knew that we could win. This is my first year with Keith Duesenberg Racing. Most of the guys have been together for several years now, so I was hoping that once they realized that I could get the job done for them, the whole team would step up."
CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"It was awesome. In this morning's warm-up, we were the fastest. I just knew that I'd just have to hang in there. It's a long race. It's tough conditions in Turns 1 and 2 with the bumps down there, and with the heat, it makes these cars push out a little more. For the most part, the Hemelgarn/Johnson Delta Faucet/Life Fitness/WSA car was awesome the whole race. We had just a little bit of a push, but for the most part, we just hung in there and helped me finish up at the top which we did. Hopefully our luck is turning around for us because that's two second places in a row."
About the contact between Wood and Erwin:
"Those guys were pretty much driving erratic the whole race. It was just a matter of time before they were going to take each other out. Down the back straightaway going into (Turn) 3, the two of them touched, and I believe it was Brandon Erwin's wing that went flying over me. They straightened out and then they went into (Turn) 3. I guess Brandon hit Tom Wood, just broke him loose, and then he went right into the wall. He either hit him or it looked like his (Wood's) car just snapped on him real quick, so I don't know. Maybe the wing cut his tire, and it went flat on him because the thing just spun around real quick on him. The next thing I knew they went into the wall and I was dodging parts and cars."
About 2003 season:
"This year, we kind of started off very slow. We struggled at Homestead, and then at Phoenix, we were running well,but we spun out on some oil and had a not so great a finish there. Indy was great, but we just really haven't had that luck. Racing is probably 60 percent team and driver and 40 percent luck. Last year, we had probably 50 percent luck, but this year probably none just until these last two races. It's kind of turned around for us. It's been a struggle. Last year, we had a good luck, and it might have been because I'm with an awesome team. The Hemelgarn/Johnson team, they're obviously an IRL team, and they put an excellent effort in it last year. So, I think we were far ahead of the game, but this year, there are a lot more teams, as well as there are a lot more better drivers. You've got Thiago (Medeiros) here from Brazil, Mark Taylor from England so the series is getting more competitive, and obviously, the competition with the teams is getting a lot more competitive. Everyone has to step up their program right now. They can't just look at it as a spec series because every little thing that we find now in the cars is going to be the difference between winning or running in the back. You fall asleep on that, and you're just going to be driving around in circles and not able to catch up. It's an excellent series for someone to get into this type of racing and eventually move onto the (Indy) 500."
THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"Everybody was running so close. I did the best that I could. You have to be patient and keep your pace. I tried everything on the last lap, but the car was starting to push a little bit. I'm happy with the third place. I had a very good car this weekend, but the car didn't have a very good balance during the race. It had a little bit of push. It was a safe car, especially in the draft. I tried to make a lot of movements, tried to overtake someone to keep my pace, but I'd lose a lot of time with the movement that I tried. After that, I was a little bit more patient, kept my pace and tried to make some moves on the last lap. Fortunately, we got a third place. It was good for the championship. We had a terrible weekend last week in Gateway. We never had tested there before, and here, we had a great week. Everything is working good, and I'm happy with the results."
About contact between Wood and Erwin:
"I think (Brandon) Erwin came a little bit down on (Tom) Wood, Wood's car pushed a little, and they touched the wheels. Unfortunately, Wood was on the high side, and he went to the wall. Erwin kept his place but broke the front wing.