IPS: Phoenix: Round two preview

PHOENIX 100 FAST FACTS WHAT: Phoenix 100, 2nd race in 14-race 2005 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season. WHERE: Phoenix International Raceway, 1-mile asphalt oval WHEN: 1 p.m. (EST), Saturday, March 19 DISTANCE: 100 laps/100 ...

PHOENIX 100 FAST FACTS

WHAT:
Phoenix 100, 2nd race in 14-race 2005 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season.

WHERE:
Phoenix International Raceway, 1-mile asphalt oval

WHEN:
1 p.m. (EST), Saturday, March 19

DISTANCE:
100 laps/100 miles

CARS:
Dallara chassis; Infiniti V8 engines; Firestone tires

PREVIOUS RACE WINNERS:
2004 -- Thiago Medeiros
2003 -- Mark Taylor

2004 SERIES CHAMPION:
Thiago Medeiros

TV:
ESPN2, 3 p.m. (EST), March 24

SCHEDULE: (all times local; subject to change)

Friday, March 18
9:15-9:45 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice
2:15 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series qualifying
5-5:15 p.m. -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series practice

Saturday, March 19
11 a.m. -- Phoenix 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race (100 laps/100 miles)

PRE-RACE QUOTES:

MISHAEL ABBOTT (No. 91 Hemelgarn Johnson Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Being the first woman to compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series means the world to me. I've always been proud of my accomplishments, being the first female to win a professional shifter kart race in the United States, being the first to test the Infiniti Pro Series car at Las Vegas two years ago, and now the first woman to actually compete in the series fulfills one of my life long goals."

(About adding Phoenix to original five-race schedule) "After the Homestead-Miami race, I debriefed with team owners Ron Hemelgarn and Roger Johnson. Based on my performance, they want me to change my schedule to include the race at Phoenix. I'm very happy to add Phoenix to my schedule. Their vote of confidence is such a thrill, and I really look forward to the uniqueness of the D-oval configuration."

NICK BUSSELL (No. 21 JL West Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Phoenix should be a true test for us. It is a difficult track, one of the most technical in the series. I have raced the road course there with Formula Renault, so I know Turns 3 and 4, but 1 and 2 will be new to me. We haven't tested there, so I really don't know what to expect, other than it will be tight, wheel-to-wheel racing, different altogether from Homestead. With only two short practice sessions, it will be a challenge for us to adapt quickly. I'm confident the guys will give me a good car with the right setup, so it's up to me to do the rest. I want a podium spot. If we can qualify strong like we did in Miami, then we should be in good shape."

JAMIE CAMARA (No. 1 CELG-Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It will be one of the most difficult races of the year, as it is a tricky course. I have been fastest there on the pre-season official test session, and obviously now I want to win, but it will be very hard. It is a very peculiar oval. We have to lift every lap, unbalancing the car. We must find a setup to be fast the whole race. It is hard to pass, so it is even more important to qualify on the front row."

JAY DRAKE (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Now that we have one race under our belt with Vision Racing, I think we'll have a better understanding of what to expect. Hopefully the many laps I have at Phoenix in the Silver Crown and Sprint cars will be beneficial."

TRAVIS GREGG (No. 7 Lucas Oil Products/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Some of the keys, just be a little patient and make sure you get a good race car setup. That way, it's comfortable. Turns 3 and 4, and 1 and 2, it's a little bit tighter and has a little bit, you know, a tight corner coming off of 2. But I think to just stay focused on being smart and not trying to do anything silly, it's only the second race of the year and just try to do that. At the Phoenix Open Test, Jaime (Camara) was the front runner and (Jeff) Simmons was up there, too. So I think it's going to be a very competitive race."

JON HERB (No. 6 AERCON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We're really looking forward to Phoenix. We tested there a few weeks ago, and it went very well. Our fastest lap came right at the end of the test, so we're looking forward to picking up from where we left off, because we definitely had some more left in the car. We'll come back and optimize the shocks a bit better and work with the setup, and I'm sure we'll be faster. I'll be able to drive the car a bit harder. I really like Phoenix. It's challenging because of the different banking and geometry in the turns. It's a driver's track."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Obviously we did not start the season the way we would have liked to. The Homestead race weekend was a very frustrating one, but you can be sure that everyone at Kenn Hardley Racing will be doing what it takes to ensure that Phoenix will be a different story. We were quick in testing, so expect us to be near the top of the charts right from the start."

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