IPS: IRL: Chicagoland: Saturday notebook 2003-09-06

Hearn earns IndyCar Series MBNA Pole; Taylor wins a thriller JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 6, 2003 -- Richie Hearn won the MBNA Pole for the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway with a lap of 24.5206 seconds, 223.159 mph. MBNA POLE...

Hearn earns IndyCar Series MBNA Pole; Taylor wins a thriller

JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 6, 2003 -- Richie Hearn won the MBNA Pole for the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway with a lap of 24.5206 seconds, 223.159 mph.

MBNA POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

This is Richie Hearn's second career IndyCara Series MBNA Pole. His last MBNA Pole was at New Hampshire in 1996.

Team Menard has won 24 MBNA Poles, more than any other team.

Team Menard has won at least one pole in every IRL IndyCar Series season, something no other team has done.

Jaques Lazier won the MBNA Pole and the race with Team Menard at Chicagoland in 2001. Sam Hornish Jr. won the pole and race in 2002 with Panther Racing.

MBNA POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

ED CARPENTER (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"It's been a good day. The whole weekend has been great. We qualified on the pole for the Infiniti Pro Series (race), and I'm just thrilled to qualify for my first IndyCar Series race. I was hoping to get over 220 (mph), but what we qualified with is the same thing we're going to race with. We've got a great race car with Metabolife Ultra and PDM Racing. I'm just looking forward to tomorrow."

ALEX BARRON (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"When we got by ourselves in practice that is about where we were. Some of the other guys ran in the draft and increased their speed by quite a bit. A lot of guys have qualifying setups. We have been working a lot on race setups. We wanted to make sure we could pass all the way around the track. There will be a lot of passing going on tomorrow. The line is a little bit narrow, and you have to have a good car when you are behind people."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"Last year was exciting. There was a lot of competitiveness around this place." (About the points chase with teammate Gil de Ferran): "We're still in fantastic shape. It's going to be fun, but we can't think about only each other; we've got four more guys around there, too."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"Obviously, we want to do well everyday and win, but the way we unloaded the car this weekend, we really didn't have a car that could shoot for the pole. But, we've been close every weekend, and I think we have a very good car for the race, and that's the important thing." (About using the back-up car): "We were struggling for speed, I did a test here in Tomas' (Scheckter) car, and it was very fast. When I jumped into mine, it felt like it had a lot of drag, and we think it might have been the one car. But Tomas' just felt like it had a lot less drag."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"It was very good. I knew I had a good car, but I didn't think it was that strong and would be able to go that fast. I was surprised with both (Tomas) Sheckter's and my lap times. Everything was great in the car, we had a great qualifying setup, and we also have a great setup for the race. The car has to be working very good in the race. If you are only fast, it doesn't mean that you are going to be great in the race. Yesterday, we worked on race setup, and I think we will do fine. Someone told me that when you crash, you come back better, so that is what I am expecting. I think only a few people know what I have been through in the last few months. For me, it feels great to be back and to be doing well. It was a hard eight weeks. I think at this track it is more important to see how your car will behave in traffic than work by yourself. I am really happy with my car, so it should be good."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"It, obviously, wasn't as fast as we'd like it to be, but we're starting in the top 10, and you can win this race from anywhere. We started eighth here in 2001 and got second in the race and grabbed the points championship, so I guess that's not too bad of a place to start from. We'll see what we can do; it's going be a tough race tomorrow. This track really lends itself to running close, and also for the past two years there's been a couple big wrecks, too, so you've got to stay out of that. People are getting more aggressive as the year goes on, and I've got to stay out of trouble and try to gain as many points as we can."

RICHIE HEARN (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"It's been a long road, but I'm very appreciative of what Menard's has given me and Chevy, as well. Tomas (Scheckter) and I have been going back and forth on this deal. Yesterday he beat me twice, and today I was ahead of him twice when it counted. We'll have a good race tomorrow. We had a good test last week. I wasn't sure what everybody else had, so I wasn't really paying attention. Five laps into the first practice session the car was spot on, and that was really just our race setup. Today we showed up, and we didn't do a lot. We just took the fuel out and did a couple of things and picked up a few more miles per hour and went for it. I knew Tomas, he put up a pretty big number there. It wasn't as fast as I went this morning so I was pretty confident, but it's a long wait. It's a long wait sitting in that car. I'm just glad it's over, and we ended up on top. It proves to myself that I shouldn't give up. It's real easy sometimes to just say, 'Forget it.' Because it's hard to get a ride. I still believe that I can do it, and I'm glad that these guys gave me a chance to prove that to them. I think I could've gone a little quicker, but we didn't want to push it. No reason to go any farther. It was real close on my dash. My dash said 223.07 (mph), and they weren't saying anything. So, I wasn't sure if I had to go around again, but then they confirmed it. I'm glad we only needed one lap. The test last week really helped us out because we were able to unload yesterday and the car was fast right out of the box. It kind of let us work on the real small things that give you that extra half-mile an hour or a 10th-of-a mile an hour here and there. Tomorrow will be a good race. It will be a big pack. I know he (Scheckter) has a good car as well, so I'm just going to enjoy this while I can and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow morning."

Do you feel kind of like Cinderella?:

"I try not to look at my life (as) that dismal. It's really easy to get down on yourself when you're sitting at home, watching these races on TV, over and over. It kind of helps me remind myself that I can drive a race car. Hopefully, I'll get some more chances."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"It was good but not good enough. I thought it was going to be close. We new Richie (Hearn) was pretty quick, maybe a little bit of the temperature played into his hands, but we were so close anyway. I think the main thing is tomorrow we've got a good race car. We worked on it yesterday, and I think we have a good chance for the race win, which is what I'm aiming for. When you're quick on the race setup you're normally pretty good with new tires and low fuel for a qualifying setup. I have to thank Target and Toyota for giving me such good packages this weekend, and, hopefully, we keep it together for tomorrow."

About importance of drafting here:

"I think it's very important. I think you'll see a lot of these guys that maybe didn't look that competitive today, right up there. And also it depends how you take the race, how much risk you want to take with your car because if you want straight-line speed, then you suffer a little bit in traffic. I think today, and what tomorrow's going to be are completely different."

Rookie Mark Taylor defeated Ed Carpenter by 0.0170 of a second to win the Chicagoland 100 Sept. 6 at Chicagoland Speedway in the closest finish in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history. The 67-lap sprint was slowed twice due to accidents. The first occurred when rookie Paul Dana made heavy contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 4. The final caution period occurred when rookie Marco Cioci made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 2. Both drivers were unhurt.

CHICAGOLAND 100 POST-RACE NOTES:

Mark Taylor won his sixth Menards Infiniti Pro Series race of the season and the sixth of his career. Both are records for the Infiniti Pro Series.

Ed Carpenter finished second. He now has 12 top-five finishes in his career and 14 top-10 finishes.

Panther Racing has won six Menards Infiniti Pro Series races, more than any other team. The previous record was five by A.J. Foyt Racing.

CHICAGOLAND 100 POST-RACE QUOTES:

AARON FIKE (No. 91 RFMS Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"Obviously, we didn't end up where we would like to. We went backward, not forward. The whole Hemelgarn/Johnson team did a great job this weekend. It was our best qualifying effort of the year. We just didn't have a good enough car in the draft, and we didn't get enough practice time. Other than that, we'll take fifth, go on to the next race and, hopefully, get a win there."

ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"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 racing, three rows abreast, three rows side by side, you couldn't ask for closer racing. I think fourth is a good result for our team. It is our third top-five finish, so we are looking to improve on that in California. It was a very close race. Everyone's cars seemed to be working good. Congratulations to Mark (Taylor), and hopefully, we will be the next one to win one of these races."

ED CARPENTER (No. 14 Futaba/Delphi Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"Mark (Taylor) and I were fighting it out the whole race. I think the outside was the place to be today. Mark got the lead from me early on, and I got on the outside of him trying to beat him to the line every time. I eventually cleared him. That last yellow kind of hurt me. I got a good restart, but he was able to lag back and get a big draft through Turns 1 and 2 and the backstretch before I had all of my momentum built up. He just beat me to the line. That was a good race. Anytime you can run with somebody within inches for pretty much 67 laps, it is a good day. If I can do what I did today in an IndyCar Series car tomorrow, I'd probably win, but I've got a lot to learn before I can run that close on the outside all day in the IndyCar Series."

MARCO CIOCI (No. 99 Empress Casino/Sam Schmidt Mtrsprts. Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"At the beginning, Paul Dana hit me. I don't know why. I don't know if he wasn't watching. I came back in the pits, and we fixed my suspension, but there was a big vibration in the rear tires. With three laps to go, I was going very slowly just to be there at the end, because we want to get points for the championship for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Unfortunately, with three laps to go, my tires went away, and I lost control of the car and went into the wall. I was driving very slowly, two seconds slower than normally. I just wanted to finish the race. I completely lost the rear of my car, and I'm very mad because the guys worked a lot, and Sam Schmidt gave me this opportunity."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"It was hard work. I was just trying to pick the right place to be and work through all that traffic. It is really hard to pass here if you don't get some help from guys once you get up there. I'm a little disappointed for the guys on the Western Union Speed Team. We really wanted to keep going at the championship and keep making up points on Mark (Taylor). Unfortunately, it wasn't our day. We got the most of out it that we could. I was just trying to find any way that I could get by. I think if Mark didn't have Ed in front of him, I could have gotten by him. He was able to get that draft off of Ed (Carpenter). I think they were working a little bit against me together, being that they both benefited from that. Ed is trying to catch me in the points, and I'm trying to catch Mark. They did it right."

TAYLOR FLETCHER (No. 9 Empress Casino/Olive Crest Foundation Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"We got a yellow after that incident in Turn 1. We were backing up on the throttle a little bit and dropped a couple of gears. I just heard a clunk in the transmission. We had zero gears, so we just coasted into the pits. The car was good. The Sam Schmidt Motorsports team really put the car together well. It was rock solid."

PAUL DANA (No. 33 Ethanol Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"I don't know if it was the ARCA rubber or how we had the car set up. The car was just unbelievably unstable in traffic. At any instance one end or the other wasn't working. I was having a million saves a lap. I eventually got caught out. We actually practiced really quick. With the mechanical failure, we didn't get a chance to qualify, so we started in the back. We had a lot of traffic to deal with, and maybe we weren't quite set up for it."

RACE DAY SCHEDULE:

7 a.m. IndyCar Series garage opens 29-9:30 a.m. Final IndyCar Series practice
1 p.m. Delphi Indy 300 (200 laps/300 miles), ABC-TV & IMS Radio Network (live)

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Gil de Ferran , Jaques Lazier  , Richie Hearn , Sam Schmidt , Paul Dana , Chip Ganassi , Marco Cioci , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter , Mo Nunn
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing