Post race press conference transcript from the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Phoenix 100 on March 20. Thiago Medeiros, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Leonardo Maia, Sam Schmidt THE MODERATOR: This is the second time in the history of the series that the...
Post race press conference transcript from the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro
Phoenix 100 on March 20.
Thiago Medeiros, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Leonardo Maia, Sam Schmidt
THE MODERATOR: This is the second time in the history of the series that the race has gone caution free. This is also the first time in the series that it's been a 1-2 finish by teammates.
In third place today we have Leonardo Maia. Leonardo is a rookie in the series. Last year he was the Barber Dodge Pro Series champion. This is his first race. Tell us about your run today.
LEONARDO MAIA: I started off really, considering it's my first race here in the Infiniti Pro Series, I just wanted to make sure -- first of all, I wanted to make sure I finished, just really learn as much as I can. I pretty much got this deal put together about a week and a half ago. So we were down in Texas on Monday testing, which is pretty much the exact opposite of Phoenix.
I just wanted to learn as much as I possibly could. In the end, my car just started to go away, but not as bad as some of the other people. I could see that some of the guys in front of me were having problems. Just stuck behind them, tried not to make any mistakes. They were on edge already. They pushed it a little bit, went wide, I was sort of able to duck down underneath. Luckily I finished third.
THE MODERATOR: In second place is Arie Luyendyk Jr. You started second, finished second. Looked like you were pretty much motoring out there by yourself today. Tell us about your race.
ARIE LUYENDYK JR.: Well, right from the very first lap, I knew I didn't have the car to beat Thiago. I just had a very loose car from the get go. And in traffic, it seemed to be even more loose. That was also, I mean, it wasn't just loose, I pushed on entry, push mid corner, then loose coming off. Quite a handful. I'm a little bit more tired than I've ever been in a race before because I really had to work for that one.
Traffic was a big thing for me. Once we settled in, I was running comparable speeds to Thiago. But I got held behind the backmarkers for a lot longer just because the car was not really good in traffic. We seemed to have a front wing that was vibrating a lot. That might have taken a little bit of front downforce off the car.
It was a long day, and I'm happy with second place because that's the worst car I've ever had finishing second. I'm just glad I brought it home in one piece and could complete the 1-2. It's a great accomplishment for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
Q. Talk about how you and Thiago work together.
ARIE LUYENDYK JR.: In our team, Thiago and I drive a very different setup. His setup seemed to work better today. It was definitely his day, his weekend. I felt that our car wasn't as consistent throughout the weekend, and we had to work a little bit harder. Thiago's setup seemed to be doing better. We tried to do Thiago's setup, but it didn't work out for my driving style.
He did spank the field, but it was good to be 1-2. We had a new sponsor come on board. I'm happy they helped out because we're struggling in the budget. Hopefully this will get us through a few more races.
Q. Is it frustrating to keep finishing second?
ARIE LUYENDYK, JR.: It is frustrating. But, you know, last year we struggled the whole year. Finishing second would have been, you know, better than what we went through last year. So if we can just keep this going, our team is extremely strong right now, we have a great staff. We've got a great team owner in Sam Schmidt. I think we'll be seeing a lot of these 1-2 finishes.
ARIE LUYENDYK, JR.: We're saving it for the big race in Indy. Hopefully it will be a 1-2 with me on top there. We'll see.
THE MODERATOR: It was pointed out this was the first time in series history that teammates have finished 1-2. Tell us what it means to Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
SAM SCHMIDT: Well, I feel like a dead dog. I've been in this situation with 15 or 20 laps to go so many times. You know, Nashville, we had far superior cars that ran second and third all day long. St. Louis, once again, we had the first row by half a second and couldn't close the deal there. Hopefully this puts us over the hurdle, and we can win some races throughout the rest of the year.
But it's truly a team effort because there's that old saying, the harder the work, the better you do. We came here, nothing against Arie in this deal, because Thiago was here for two days in December, and one day a month ago. Arie came in one day a month ago. We screwed up on the car all day, so he played catch up here all weekend. For him to come out second, I mean, the thing was loose from the start. For him to come out second, I don't care where it is, it's a fantastic tribute to him to be able to hang onto the car that long.
Thiago obviously did an amazing job. He's clearly done the most miles around here in the last six months of anybody, too.
Frankly, that was my expectation.
Q. Leonardo, can you tell us the similarities or differences between these cars and the (Barber) Dodge (Pro Series) cars?
LEONARDO MAIA: Obviously, I drove the Barber Dodge car mostly on road courses and just one oval. They're pretty similar, I mean, this Infiniti car is just a step up in every respect. A lot more grip, a lot more speed, more physical. It's just a better car all the way around.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us now is the winner of the race, Thiago Medeiros. This is your second win now. It was a pretty impressive win today. Tell us about your run.
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Well, I'm happy with the results. We set up the car very well here in the Open Test. Didn't change a lot during the race. The car was awesome. The track was a little bit -- it was very slippery. I was searching for some rubber to have more grip in the lower level, on the bottom of the track. That's what I did.
The car didn't change a lot. I could keep a very good rhythm and concentrate on the race. And that's what I did. We got the results, and we are looking forward to Indy.
Q. Arie, what was going through your mind when you saw Thiago in your mirrors?
ARIE LUYENDYK JR.: Well, first off, what was going through my mind, I let Billy (Roe) by because he was pressuring me. I felt I should just let him by. He was battling with the car in front of him. He was trying to get past Phil Giebler. They were in a heated battle for the last 10 laps of the race, trying to get by each other. I kind of saw that, you know, it was kind of dangerous to be behind those two guys. I just got stuck.
When I saw Thiago come up close, I just decided to let him go, checked the ego. The main thing is just to bring the car home. I had a handful today, and I knew that third place was far behind. I just took it easy and brought it home.
Q. Thiago, your team wanted you to take it easy, stay behind Arie.
THIAGO MEDEIROS: He said to be behind him, because I didn't need to overtake him. My car was very good. He made a little mistake. He was up high in the exit in Corner 3. I just got off the corner, because then he and I were safe overtaking. It was not a problem.
Q. Arie, any update on your (Indianapolis) 500 plans?
ARIE LUYENDYK JR.: Currently we're trying to work out details, trying to do ROP (Rookie Orientation Program), then kind of go from there. We don't really have a large budget for it. We don't really have a budget at all. I want to get ROP out of the way, just in case. You know, you never want to wish anything bad upon anybody else. If someone gets injured or if someone needs a seat filled, I'll be there. That's what we're trying to do right now. It's looking pretty promising that I'll get to ROP.
Q. Any business relationships, sponsors, that your father had?
ARIE LUYENDYK JR.: Yeah, there's lots of companies out there, if I definitely have a chance of getting to the 500, they'll chip in. But they're not companies that will give me money to go look for a ride. If I have a ride, they'll support me and give me money and support to get to Indy.
Right now it's a slim chance, but there still is a chance.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.