Indy Racing League Thiago Medeiros Ken Johnson: Good morning. I'd like to welcome everyone to the Indy Racing teleconference for this week of Tuesday, October 14. Today we'll visit with Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Thiago Medeiros as well...
Indy Racing League
Ken Johnson: Good morning. I'd like to welcome everyone to the Indy Racing teleconference for this week of Tuesday, October 14. Today we'll visit with Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Thiago Medeiros as well as IRL IndyCarTM Champion, Scott Dixon. Our first guest is Thiago Medeiros. He is the driver of the No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for Genoa Racing. He led the final four laps of the 67-lap dreamerscandles.com 100 at Texas Motor Speedway to record the first oval-track win of his career this past Saturday. Thiago, good morning, and thanks for joining us today.
Thiago Medeiros: Thank you very much for the opportunity with the teleconference.
Ken Johnson: First, congratulations on your win this past Saturday. Did you feel that you might have a chance to win when you were trailing Aaron Fike and Jeff Simmons with just a handful of laps remaining?
T. Medeiros: Yes. I had a very good car that I could run high, low, everywhere, but I was trying to find a partner to take a little bit of drag of my car off and try to go to the front of the pack. I was waiting for the right moment to do that the last couple of laps.
Ken Johnson: When you crossed the finish line, you reached down in your cockpit, you pulled out a Brazilian flag. Did you know that you were going to win or did you carry that flag with you all year?
T. Medeiros: Throughout the year, I thought that I had so many chances to win during the season, but we had little problems, and sometimes I missed the opportunity to get my victories. I always carry my Brazilian flag with me and was just waiting for the opportunity to get my first win of the series and show them where I came from, my country. It is a big pleasure to represent my country here.
Ken Johnson: So you really felt it was just a matter of time until you took the checkered?
T. Medeiros: It is very hard to say that, because everybody was doing a good job. Everybody was very close, and it was almost nothing between the first 10 cars. They were all within one second only. I thought that I had a chance, but it was very close. I was just trying to keep working hard and waiting for the right moment to do a big shot.
Ken Johnson: You finished fourth in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series standings. You had seven top fives and only two DNFs over the 12 events. How would you rate your run this year?
T. Medeiros: Well, it was my first year here in ovals. I am very proud to be It's completely different from where I come from. I come from road courses. The series is wonderful, a lot different of kind of racing, but I like it. Everybody runs very close. I have a lot of competition with the other drivers, and my year was wonderful here. My first year with Genoa Racing, my first engineer here, he taught me a lot of things about ovals. I learned so many things, and it is very important for my future.
Ken Johnson: Thiago, at this time, I'd like to open up our forum to the media. Just a reminder we'll do a complete transcript of this call. Let us open the forum for questions.
Q: Good morning, Thiago, congratulations.
T. Medeiros: Thank you.
Q: I find it a little ironic that the first race you win comes after the first time that you led laps and also it's in a race that part of the name is dream, so it all just kind of worked out for you, didn't it?
T. Medeiros: Yes. I was trying -- everybody was trying to pull the inside line and nobody gave us the inside line because it's the better line to be on. After I got the first place past Aaron Fike, I just kept low. It's a long way around, trying to do something. Jeff Simmons was trying to do something -- trying to pass me on the last lap, but he couldn't. I had a very good car that I could have run high, low, whatever way that I would be. Aaron Fike, who was leading the race, and after I got it, I just kept low and tried to be there in the end of the race.
Q: Tell us about the heritage of Brazilian drivers, and, of course, Gil de Ferran running his last race this past weekend. As a Brazilian, what does all of that mean?
T. Medeiros: Oh, Gil is a hero for me and I think also for all the other Brazilian drivers who want to come to the U.S. and join the American racing. He did a very good job in the three years that he did in CART and in IRL, and he won the Champ Cars two times and now he almost won the (IndyCar Series) Championship. He finished second, and he won the Indy 500. I am very proud for him because he did everything. It's a dream for everyone to win the 500 like he did this year and have the two titles like he has.
Q: The heritage of the Brazilian drivers - and it goes back a long way - and the support that the Brazilian fans give to you guys, as a young driver, talk about how that helps you and what that does for you.
T. Medeiros: Well, I had a dream when I was a little child. I started to race go-karts when I was eight years old, and I had a very good school when I was racing go-karts in Brazil. We have a very difficult life to be a driver because the sponsors are just looking for soccer, the most popular sport in our country. We have a very difficult lifestyle, the language is different. Everything is hard, and I am living here in Indianapolis, my first year, without my family and my friends and everything, but I am very proud to be here, learn here. I am sorry about my English - I am still learning. It's my first year here, and I am realizing my dreams and maybe join the IRL (IndyCar Series) next year or the year after next year.
Q: Good luck.
T. Medeiros: Thank you.
Ken Johnson: This was your first season of American oval-track racing. Looking back on your 12 races, your test sessions, everything, tell us a little bit about, as a driver, what you have learned this year over the past season in the Pro Series.
T. Medeiros: The year was wonderful for me, but the beginning of this year was a little bit hard because we didn't have a lot of tests. I just made one test at Homestead before our first race. I was very happy after I made my first pole and finished second in my first Menards Infiniti Pro Series event (at Homestead). After that we didn't have so many tests because our budget was very restricted, and we were trying to get some deals and found some groups in Brazil who want to export some products here to sell in the U.S. In the motor racing, racing cars, it's hard to develop the car without testing. A lot of drivers made so many tests, and it's hard to develop the car, my performance, without testing. So I am very happy with the result, finishing fourth in my first year here. I know that I had a wonderful year. Just my family knows how difficult it was this year for me. And next year, it's probably going to be easier for me because I know where I have been before, and hopefully, it will be better for us to get some better results.
Ken Johnson: As a driver, with the road-course background, were there certain skills that maybe you possessed that you needed to fine-tune or certain skills that you had to develop that are just applicable to only driving in the ovals?
T. Medeiros: When I was driving the road courses, I learned so many things about the setup of the car. It was a very good school for me because here oval racing, first of all, you have walls on both sides. If you make a little mistake, you become a passenger very quickly. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do when you are going to hit the wall. I learned one thing in my life: to drive on the limit of the car and not to overdrive my limit. I am very proud to learn so many things about the cars and come here ready to be in a wonderful series and make a wonderful job. I didn't have any accidents this year. Well, I had one accident, but it was not my fault. I learned so many things to set up the car. It's completely different here in ovals, but those things that I learned before helped give me a lot of help, and I had a very nice engineer, Thomas Knapp. And I am very proud to work with him and with Genoa Racing this year because they teach me so many things, which are very important for my future and my life.
Q: Now that the season is over here, do you have plans for next year, something to do in what we call the off-season, or how are you lined up for next year?
T. Medeiros: Yeah, I do. I have plans to be in this series again for next year. And I am 21 years old. I think that I have more things to learn in ovals in the Infiniti Pro Series and (IndyCar Series) in 2005.
Q: Will you be racing any place, other types of cars?
T. Medeiros: Yeah, I have a dream to be in the IRL, winning the 500, it's a dream for me. All those Brazilian drivers could do that, like Emerson Fittipaldi opened the gates for us, and Gil this year, it's wonderful for us, and I think that I can do that. And just keep working hard and learning so many -- the most things that you can learn and working hard. I have a dream to be in the championship in the IRL (IndyCar Series).
Q: Now that the season is over, I understand you will probably be going to Brazil very soon, but what are your off-season plans?
T. Medeiros: I'm going back to Brazil to contact some sponsors and trying to get some support to start testing early in the preseason next year. Maybe I'm going to be back in November, or very early in January, and start testing very early to develop the car and the performance, also.
Q: Thomas (Knapp) has a reputation of being a pretty tough guy to work with. How did you find working with him?
T. Medeiros: Well, I learned so many things this year. Sometimes you can't be aggressive. I think you have to learn, whatever the situation that you have in your whole life. Sometimes he has his own way to do the things, but I always give him my ideas about what we should do on the car setup. I am sorry, sometimes it's hard for me to express myself in English. Thomas is a very nice engineer. He knows so many things about ovals. He really knows how to work and set up the car for the ovals. I never did some work with him in the road course, but he's a very nice engineer in ovals. I have nothing to say about him, he gave me a lot of help and taught me many things this year, and he's going to be very important for me next year and my future.
Q: He's going to come back next year, right?
T. Medeiros: Probably.
Q: Don't worry about your English, it's probably better than all of our Spanish.
T. Medeiros: We speak Portuguese in Brazil.
Ken Johnson: Thiago, we thank you for joining us today. Congratulations on an outstanding performance this past Saturday. We look forward to being with you in the Indy Racing League next year.
T. Medeiros: Thank you very much for the opportunity, Kent Johnson. Hopefully, we'll be back here very soon, and we'll keep in touch.
K. Johnson: Looking forward to it, Thiago, thanks again.