Thiago Medeiros earned his second consecutive Menards Infiniti Pro Series race after winning the Futaba Freedom 100 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Medeiros started from the pole position in the Sam Schmidt Motorsports No. 11,...
Thiago Medeiros earned his second consecutive Menards Infiniti Pro Series race after winning the Futaba Freedom 100 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Medeiros started from the pole position in the Sam Schmidt Motorsports No. 11, setting a new track record on Friday after qualifying at a two-lap average of 189.274 mph.
Simmons, driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, edged ahead in turn one but Medeiros held his ground and the pair touched wheels in turn two with Medeiros taking full command of the lead.
"I thought I was going to get him on that first lap," said Simmons. "I got a good run and got down the inside there and he was just able to drive around on the outside and we touched a little bit coming out of turn two."
Once clear of Simmons, Medeiros began to pull away when Jon Herb and Billy Roe made contact on the frontstretch.
On the restart, Simmons made a fantastic start, passing the young Brazilian as they raced onto the backstretch. "First, I want to say think you to A.J. Foyt Racing," said Simmons. "They did a great job on the car, as we came here and hadn't raced since last year. The tires are a little different this year, and we didn't have any testing. We had just a little bit too much understeer down at both ends of the track, really turn one and turn three. I got that on the restart, but I was hoping I could hold on because I knew that he was going to get understeer behind me."
Medeiros stalked Simmons for five laps, watching his car mishandle and looking for the best place to retake the lead. In a smooth move to the inside, Medeiros passed Simmons with ease, gliding to a two second lead in two laps.
"We made some changes before the race," said Medeiros. "We thought the wind would change things. We put more downforce on the car, and that made be able to go flat out all the way around."
With a three second lead, the crew began asking Medeiros to save the car for the final stage of the race. At Phoenix Medeiros lapped the entire field despite pleas from the crew to settle into a steady pace. This time Medeiros listened to his crew, settling into a pace that maintained his three second lead.
Just past the mid point of the race, Jesse Mason and Rolando Quintanilla brought out the yellow flag when they made contact in turn one, erasing Medeiros' lead. Simmons would get another chance to make a bid for the lead, but this time he was separated from the leader by the lapped car of Gary Peterson.
With Simmons behind Peterson, Medeiros got a good jump, restoring a comfortable lead. Simmons tried his best to keep up, brushing the wall between turns one and two but Medeiros obviously had the better handling car. "In touched the wall there at the end, just pushing as hard as I could. It was a light hit. I don't think we did any damage at all. I was just pushing as hard as I could to get back up on him in the draft."
Medeiros' third career victory was sealed one lap shy of the scheduled 40 laps when Quintanilla spun in turn two and made contact with the inside retaining wall.
Medeiros's Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Arie Luyendyk Jr. moved up two spots in the race, finishing third. "Starting fifth, I knew it was going to be hard because my car was really bad in traffic during the warm-up yesterday. I was a bit concerned with the car. But by the time the race came around and we went into the first corner, I was already in fourth, and then a few laps later, I was able to get Paul Dana for third, so right then I knew my car was pretty good."
Veteran USAC driver Jay Drake finished fourth and promptly left the Speedway to compete in a sprint car race at Terre Haute. Drake, who was the highest finishing rookie, qualified fourth in his first Pro Series event. Impressed with his first event at the Speedway, Drake hoped the race would last a little longer. "With every restart, I was learning how to get it up through the gears a little better. It's not the actual shifting, anybody can do that, but it's the timing of it. We've got one gear in the (USAC) cars we race, and we just run it flat out."
Phil Giebler retained second in Infiniti Pro Series standings with his fifth pace finish. "We moved up slowly, and I thought I was going to get third or maybe even second," said Giebler who started seventh. "Thiago was pretty strong today, and he had a strong car. He would have been hard to catch. All in all, in was a good race. We got some points. We just need to get Thiago in the next couple rounds and get the points closer."