Thiago Medeiros went flag-to-flag today, winning his second Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at the fast one-mile Phoenix International Raceway. Driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Medeiros converted pole position in his ...
Thiago Medeiros went flag-to-flag today, winning his second Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at the fast one-mile Phoenix International Raceway.
Driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Medeiros converted pole position in his #11 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone racer into victory, leading teammate Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s #5 machine to the checkered flags by a full lap. Rookie Leonardo Maia finished third in his first IPS start at this very difficult oval.
Medeiros nearly won the season opener at Homestead three weeks ago. The young Brazilian was lucky to salvage second place when a tire problem arose in the final laps. "After Homestead, I said that I wanted to win at Phoenix and lap the field. It was a joke between me and my manager and fortunately, it came true. The car was awesome for the whole race."
Medeiros, who pulled away as soon as the green flag was shown, enjoyed a 20 second lead by the mid point of the race. With an insurmountable lead, Medeiros was able to bide his time, lapping each competitor with surgical precision. "I just tried to get a good start and have some distance to negotiate good passes on the other guys."
For second time in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history, the race was caution free allowing Medeiros to lap the entire field, a series first.
Teammates finishing first and second marked another series first.
With his teammate directly behind him as he approached the checkered flag, Medeiros lifted to allow Luyendyk back on the lead lap. Luyendyk pulled alongside but was unable to nose ahead and was officially scored one lap down.
"I knew right from the very start that my car wasn't as good as Thiago's," said Luyendyk. While Medeiros easily cleared competitors at the back of the pack, Luyendyk was held up, allowing Medeiros extend his lead. "We were struggling with a car that had an overall grip loss," Luyendyk said. "The back end wasn't any good, and the front end wasn't good, either. Entering the corner we had a lot of push, and coming out, it was really loose when I was on the throttle.
"I knew it was going to be a handful, so I was just trying to conserve my tires and wait for a yellow, but it never came."
Series newcomer Leonardo Maia finished third in his first Pro Series race. Maia comes to the Pro Series after earning the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship with six victories and eight podium finishes. "I'm a little dizzy. I'm not used to these ovals," said Maia, who started seventh. Many cars went to an understeer during the race, "so we started our car off expecting that. I had plenty of adjustments I could make inside the cockpit to counteract that."
Maia's Brian Stewart Racing teammate, Jesse Mason finished fourth. "We just went a little bit the wrong way on the setup, which cost us," said Mason, who currently sits third in the championship standings behind Medeiros and Homestead winner Phil Giebler. "It was a good job by Leo (Maia). First race he did well. It was a good weekend overall. Any time you get a result where you're not in the fence, it's something you can build on."
This is the second time in series history that all starters have been running at the finish.
Paul Dana rounded out the top five followed by Rolando Quintanilla and Homestead winner Phil Giebler in seventh.