HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY, Homestead, FL, March 1, 2003 - Thiago Medeiros had things his own way yet again at Homestead-Miami Speedway, taking his #36 Genoa Racing Infiniti Pro Series Dallara/Infiniti to the top spot in single car qualifying for tomorrow's Western Union 100.
Medeiros had few worries setting the quickest speed of 32.1756 seconds (167.829mph), as many of his practice competitors managed to hit the Turn 4 wall, negating their time trials. "This was a very tough session," he said. "I have to find the right line on this track, which is difficult because I am a road racer."
One by one they tried to knock the Brazilian rookie off the top slot; one by one they failed. Tom Wood, who had been quick in all three practices was the first to test the turn 4 barrier, emerging with little damage to himself or the car but unable to take the green flag for his two-lap run in the #9 Super 8 Motels Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.
Paul Dana, quickest in Friday afternoon practice performed the same feat during his run in the #24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti and had to abort. Ed Carpenter never took a qualifying lap as he crashed in practice earlier in the day, disabling his #14 Futaba/Delphi A.J. Foyt Racing racer. Matt Beardsley, too, was unable to record a flying lap.
The only driver to come close to Medeiros' time was rookie Mark Taylor, the Briton racing a Fulmar/Panther yellow entry. Taylor, who had a minor hit at the track he likes best of the three he's driven (Phoenix), said he "came here to learn how a car feels on the ovals." His best was 32.4509 seconds (166.405mph)
Last season's Infiniti Pro Series runner-up, Arie Luyendyk Jr., driving the #5 Sinden Racing machine will start third after touring at 32.7755 seconds (164.757mph). Luyendyk's car was "awesome in turns one and two but I had a big wiggle in turns three and four. We're starting to gain consistency and I think we're good in traffic," he said.
Only 12 of the 16 entrants recorded laps in qualifying today, but all are expected to start tomorrow's 100-mile dash. Aaron Fike starts 4th in the #91 RFMS car fielded by Hemelgarn Racing. The midget ace said, "the wind didn't affect us as much as others, but we were on the rev limiter with that tail wind." Fike is pleased the race takes place in the morning, "when the track is faster."
Jeff Simmons, out of racing for the past few years after winning the 1998-9 Barber Dodge titles, starts 5th in the #20 Western Union Speed Team car fielded by Duesenberg Racing. "The wind is playing with the cars today and we had to be very careful."
Only the top seven qualifiers turned laps within one second, as Jonathan Urlin, first out for time trials was 6th and Ronnie Johncox was 7th. Brandon Erwin took 8th, Cory Witherill was 9th, first-timer Lloyd Mack nabbed 10th, Gary Peterson starts 11th and Marty Roth, who suffered 2nd degree burns on his seat in testing here last week when a hose worked loose, was 12th.
The Western Union 100 is set to take the green flags at 10:10am Sunday morning.