PHOENIX, March 18 - The PDM Racing crew solved the gearbox problem that Jeret Schroeder's Summit Packaging/Purity Products/Graph to Graphics Dallara Olds ...
PHOENIX, March 18 - The PDM Racing crew solved the gearbox problem that Jeret Schroeder's Summit Packaging/Purity Products/Graph to Graphics Dallara Olds #30 experienced at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday and Saturday, and the Vineland, N.J.-based driver had moved up 10 spots to 12th position in the first quarter of Sunday's Copper World Indy 200 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season opener.
His first pit stop went very well and he was poised for a top-10 finish or better, but unfortunately that all came to an abrupt end on lap 78 when he, leader Gil de Ferran and Mark Dismore were involved in a crash in turn four.
Schroeder ended up 26th in the final rundown.
De Ferran, who had just taken the lead four laps earlier, and Schroeder made contact and spun. Dismore, whose car was not handling well, didn't have anywhere to go and got collected in the crash too. Luckily none required medical treatment.
"I'd been following de Ferran for a few laps," Schroeder said. "He went to the inside and I thought he was just blocking or something. We got into three together, and I backed out of it and got in behind him. I was just trying to bide my time and stay out of trouble.
"Going under the bridge all of a sudden he got on the binders and was headed into the pits. It didn't look to me like he was trying to get into the pits before that. I ran into the back of him. I was drafting him, and when he did that I had nowhere to go but straight into the back of him. I'm sore; my head, neck and shoulders hurt, but I passed medical. It was a harder hit than Kentucky last year.
"I was picking off one car at a time, trying to stay out of trouble and pick my way to the front, but unfortunately things like this happen sometimes."
De Ferran saw the incident the same way. "I was going into the pits, but Jeret probably didn't realize that I was coming in," he said. "I thought I was slowing down enough. It was a misunderstanding."
Paul Diatlovich of PDM Racing was quick to defend his driver.
"Jeret drove a flawless race and had already moved up 10 positions when this unfortunate incident occurred," he said. "We were looking forward to a top-10 finish at least."
Schroeder said that everything was going well before the accident.
"The gearbox worked well for the race; the PDM crew gave me a good car. I had just a little wiggle from the rear, but it was very driveable. I had a little push, but it was no problem and I had advanced quite a bit from the start."
Sam Hornish Jr. went on to win the event over Eliseo Salazar and Buddy Lazier.
The next Indy Racing Northern Light Series race, the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami, is slated for April 8 at the Miami-Homestead Speedway in Homestead, Fla. Schroeder is sure to have many fans on hand there, since Purity Products is based in Miami; Graph to Graphics is headquartered in Pompano Beach, Fla., and his parents live in North Palm Beach, Fla.