IPS: Phoenix: Qualifying notes

Infiniti Pro Series leader Taylor wins Phoenix pole. AVONDALE, Ariz., Friday, March 21, 2003 -- Infiniti Pro Series points leader Mark Taylor must like the view from the top, because he's still there after winning the pole for the Phoenix 100...

Infiniti Pro Series leader Taylor wins Phoenix pole.

AVONDALE, Ariz., Friday, March 21, 2003 -- Infiniti Pro Series points leader Mark Taylor must like the view from the top, because he's still there after winning the pole for the Phoenix 100 on March 21 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Rookie Taylor won the season-opening Western Union 100 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to take the points lead, and he earned his first career pole on the 1-mile desert oval at PIR. His pole lap was 24.0141 seconds, 149.912 mph in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

"The car has felt good all day," Taylor said. "We didn't change anything going into the qualifying run, so I knew the car would feel good. It was just a case of me getting the confidence in the car before I made the time."

Brandon Erwin qualified second at 24.0473, 149.705 in the No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, while Phoenix-area resident Arie Luyendyk Jr. rounded out the top three at 24.2698, 148.332 in the No. 5 Sinden Racing Service entry at his home track.

The 100-mile race, the first Infiniti Pro Series event at PIR, is scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m. (EST) Saturday.

"We were able to turn a good time this time around," Taylor said. "Hopefully it'll continue for the race. If we can win the first two races of the year, that'll be great. These guys have been working really hard. They deserve it."

Tom Wood qualified fourth at 24.3245, 147.999 in the No. 9 Super 8 Motels/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, while rookie Tony Ave rounded out the top five at 24.3504, 147.842 in the No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing entry despite crashing in the first practice. He was unhurt in the crash.

Rookie Jeff Simmons was fastest overall in the two pre-qualifying practice sessions at 153.200 mph but managed a lap of 24.3584, 147.793 in qualifying in the No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg entry, good for the sixth starting spot.

Veteran Ronnie Johncox also crashed, in the second practice. Johncox was unhurt and went on to qualify 15th in the No. 8T REV 1 Racing Special Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

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Tickets: For tickets to the Phoenix 100, call (602) 252-2227 or visit www.phoenixraceway.com.

-irl-

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