Mark Taylor won the Chicagoland 100 at the Chicagoland Speedway after an intense race-long duel with pole sitter Ed Carpenter. Taylor started on the outside front row and swapped the lead with Carpenter 17 times before pulling ahead at the line,...
Mark Taylor won the Chicagoland 100 at the Chicagoland Speedway after an intense race-long duel with pole sitter Ed Carpenter. Taylor started on the outside front row and swapped the lead with Carpenter 17 times before pulling ahead at the line, winning by a margin of 0.017 of second, the closet finish in Infiniti Pro Series history.
While Taylor and Carpenter battled at the front, Jeff Simmons drove through the field from his 13th starting position. Simmons moved into the third position with 22 laps to go but Taylor and Carpenter running side by side thwarted any effort to challenge for the lead.
"Well, it was a tough race really just to get up to the front there," said Simmons. "Then I got into third place, and Mark and Ed were really working together somewhat, just staying together. It made it really impossible for me to get by them."
The last of three caution periods occurred with five laps remaining when Marco Cioci spun in a single car incident in turn two. Debris from the accident was quickly removed, setting up a one-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Carpenter led into turn one but Taylor nosed ahead as the pair raced through the final turn. Simmons made his final bid to the outside exiting turn four, forcing a three-wide photo finish. Carpenter, on the inside, finished second while Simmons had to settle for his eighth top-five finish of 2003.
Taylor's victory marks his sixth this season, a series record. "It was all just a waiting game until the last lap shootout," said Taylor, who now leads the championship 414-343 over Simmons. "Once that yellow came out, it had been a shoot out for five laps or so. But that yellow probably gave me the advantage over Ed. I was able to get a slight tow going through (turns) one and two and carry it through three and four."
"That last yellow kind of hurt me," Carpenter said. "I got a good restart, but he was able to lag back and get a big draft through turns one and two and the backstretch before I had all of my momentum built up. He just beat me to the line."
Arie Luyendyk finish just behind the trio, earning fourth place. "Started fourth, finished fourth. I can't complain. Mark Moore, my new engineer for the race, gave me a great car this weekend. It was glued to the track, and it was a close race out there. Side by side, three rows side by side, you couldn't ask for closer racing."
Aaron Fike finished fifth followed by Cory Witherhill and G.J. Mennen in seventh place.
Infiniti Pro Series Notes:
Panther Racing has now won a record setting six Infiniti Pro Series races. The previous record was five set by A.J. Foyt Racing.
Menards announced today that it has become the co-title sponsor of the IRL Infiniti Pro Series. The series new name is the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series. Also announced today was a 12 race schedule for 2004 starting February 29 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.