IPS: IRL: Phoenix Friday report

Dixon Sets Pace At Phoenix; Medeiros Shatters Track Record AVONDALE, Ariz, Friday, March 19, 2004 -- Defending IRL IndyCar® Series champion Scott Dixon set the pace as teams prepared March 19 for the Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix...

Dixon Sets Pace At Phoenix; Medeiros Shatters Track Record

AVONDALE, Ariz, Friday, March 19, 2004 -- Defending IRL IndyCar® Series champion Scott Dixon set the pace as teams prepared March 19 for the Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Dixon lapped the 1-mile oval in 20.5208 seconds, 175.432 mph in his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan rounded out the top-three on an incident-free day at Phoenix.

In Menards Infiniti Pro Series qualifying, Thiago Medeiros broke the track record to claim the pole for the Phoenix 100. Medeiros' lap of 22.9539 seconds, 156.836 mph gave the Brazilian his second career pole. Medeiros' teammate, Arie Luyendyk Jr., will start alongside.

INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think everybody is having the same feeling that the track is not up to the speed that we want it to be at. I don't think that anybody is comfortable with their run. When I did my lap time, I felt that it was reasonable, but it still wasn't what I wanted it to be. I can go a lot quicker. It's just the amount of grip that we have on the track right now, plus temperatures. The team did a great job because the temperatures are much different from the test."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The temperature has really heated up since the first practice session this morning, and our car got better with the heat. We're really happy with the setup we had this afternoon because it's going to be very hot in the race on Sunday, so this says good things for the race. I'm a lot more comfortable with the car today than when we tested in the off-season. We've made a lot of progress with my engineering staff, and they're giving me a great car."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We spent the afternoon working on the race setup of the Marlboro Team Penske car. Obviously, we're not as fast as we'd like to be, but we did have the opportunity to work on the handling of the car. That's the most important thing, because we'll need to be able to move in and out of traffic well on Sunday to be competitive. We've got some work to do, but we should be in good shape for race day. Tomorrow, we'll shift our focus to qualifying."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "It's a lot different than when we tested here last month. The combination of the heat and the different rubber from the Silver Crown and the Midgets has made a tricky track. Plus we are still playing catch up. We missed a whole day of the PIR test last month, and we tried to get aggressive with the chassis setup this morning. It felt a little better this afternoon, but the tires are going to take a beating here. Firestone has done a good on building a good tire, but in these conditions, it's tough for any tire. Qualifying will be important, but the race is much more critical. You are going to see some decent cars and then some really slow cars in the race. After 15 to 20 laps, cars are really going to start to go off, and you'll see a lot of positions change. We want to have a consistent car for the race. That's our goal."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We started out pretty good. The car is running very well. We tried this morning to play with the race setup. It seemed to be very difficult, especially in the heat. I think a lot of guys had the same problems. We hit a good spot at the end and I felt pretty comfortable, but no doubt it will be a very difficult race."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a good day. Obviously, we have a lot to catch up on. There are a lot of things to get used to: the car, the engine power, so many things. I was trying to stay away from the other drivers and just focus on what we were doing. We were pretty lost this morning with the setup of the car. We came back a lot this afternoon. We caught up a second. We were more balanced towards the end. The temperatures are pretty high, but it is the same for everybody. We are just learning the car. John (Dick, race engineer for teammate Kosuke Matsuura) and all of us are learning the car and trying to understand what it is doing. We made some changes and caught a second, so hopefully tomorrow, in preparation for qualifying, we can get a better car in that respect. It is too much to expect to have everything perfect for this weekend. My aim for this weekend, as it was today, is just to learn. The guys really did a terrific job in preparing the car over these few days, and we haven't had any mechanicals."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We had some issues this morning and I didn't spend very much time on the track but still put in some fast laps, so we know we're on the right path. The track was a lot slicker this afternoon with the heat, and we went through the tires a little faster than expected. We concentrated our work on the race setup, so it's a little more difficult to compare to the others on track. I expect that the heat will be an issue all weekend long, but as long as we take care of our tires in the race, we should do well."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "I'm pretty pleased with the car already. We ran in the top 10 this morning. This afternoon there was a lot less grip out there than when we tested here last month, so you have to be more careful about conserving your tires. There won't be any side-by-side racing here this weekend, but it'll be important to get a run on guys in order to pass. We ran a race setup this afternoon that varied quite a bit from Scott's (Dixon), and we'll be comparing notes throughout the weekend. I expect us to be in good shape for the race."

MENARDS INFINITI PRO SERIES POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "Thiago (Medeiros) got the pole, but we're happy to be on the front row. I'm happy about that. Tomorrow we'll try and hook up and try to run away from everybody else. That's the plan."

ROLANDO QUINTANILLA (No. 10 Roquin Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "This is good for us. Everybody else tested here, and we didn't. It's the first time I've been here and the first time the team's been here. We haven't run on a 1-mile oval since the 2002 season. We've had some glitches and had some problems because we haven't had the same amount of track time. This is the fastest we've run all weekend. The car is good, and I'm comfortable in the car. It's a good car for tomorrow, so we'll stick to it and see how everything turns out."

BILLY ROE (No. 42 Kenn Hardley Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was the first time we got to run on fresh tires. The race car was good. The racetrack threw us off earlier in the day. We couldn't hold the hammer down. We never made so many changes before qualifying in my life. We were pretty far out of the ballpark, but it seemed to all come back in. I think we're OK. That was the best track conditions all day. The IndyCar Series cars ran between us and the midgets and that cleaned the track up a lot. Earlier we were running on a different type of rubber that's not compatible with our own."

THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I'm very happy with the results that we got. It was the same time that we did here in the Open Test. We were working for it, and we did it, so I'm very happy and excited about the race tomorrow. Hopefully, this year's race will be a lot different than last year's. Last year, I sat on the back and had a lot to do to get up to the front, but I still finished in second. Hopefully, the race will be a lot different tomorrow in trying to go forward and not having trouble with the back guys. It's very good for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Everybody is very happy with the results we got, the first row. It's very important for the team. We are teammates, so I was looking at his (Arie Luyendyk Jr.) data during the passes. I found where he was quicker than me, and I fixed it. That's where we got the results."

JESSE MASON (No. 3 Segway Human Transportation Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I like this track more than Homestead. It suits the road-course racer, as you can see. We were fast this morning, and I think everybody caught on to what we were doing, so we lost our advantage a little. Hopefully, it will be like Homestead where we have a better race car than they do, they eat up their tires, and we'll be quicker at the end. That's all that matters."

LEONARDO MAIA (No. 33 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "There was a lot more grip than I was anticipating. If I would have had one more lap, I think I would have been good. Not on the pole, but good."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Sam Schmidt , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Thiago Medeiros , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing