P.J. Chesson won the Paramount 100 at Michigan International Speedway after holding off current series points leader Thiago Medeiros for the last 20 laps. The victory was Chesson's first victory in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. "What an...
P.J. Chesson won the Paramount 100 at Michigan International Speedway after holding off current series points leader Thiago Medeiros for the last 20 laps. The victory was Chesson's first victory in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series.
"What an amazing day," exclaimed the race winner who then prompted the media to ask him the following question: "How about, 'Why did I hit the wall on the way into Victory Lane (laughter)?'"
His answer when asked:" Thank you. I'm not that great of a driver." (laughter).
Medeiros, who led them most laps, battled past front row starters Al Unser and Arie Luyendyk Jr in the first two laps and assumed a one second lead. Luyendyk faded on a restart but Unser stayed at the front, mixing it up with Chesson, whose car was working especially well on the high side of the track.
"Well, I did a great start," explained Medeiros of his early charge to the front. "I was just taking my time. I knew that my car was really strong in the draft, and I could get the lead in the early laps. The team gave me a great car. I was taking my time, trying to save the tires. It was really good."
With just over twenty laps to go, Chesson closed the gap to the leader. Unser was unable to join the battle at the front when his car became unmanageable in traffic. For the last twenty laps, Chesson and Medeiros raced side-side and nose to tail swapping the lead several times. Chesson moved ahead at the line, taking the lead for the first time on lap 33. The lead changed six more times with Chesson officially leading to the checkered from lap 44.
"It just shows the steadfastness of the team that I'm with and also," said Chesson on the victory today. "I mean, what kind of team unloads -- runs their first race four races ago and comes out and parks in Victory Lane? Says a lot about the team and the guys there, my owner Kathryn (Nunn), Morris (Nunn), (chief mechanic) Butch (Winkle), (engineer) Brian (Welling), those guys. I mean, what a great operation."
As it turned out, Medeiros was battling more than Chesson as his right rear tire was missing a chunk of rubber along the inside edge, causing the car to mishandle in the closing laps.
"With 20 laps to go," commented Medeiros. "I started to feel the car go really loose. I thought it was wind. But we found a problem in the car right now. I'm happy I could say I did my best today. I'm still leading the championship.:
Leonardo Maia finished fourth with Phil Giebler, who started last, rounding out the top five.
Chesson grew up racing sprint cars in central Pennsylvania, facing some of the toughest weekly competition in the nation, before graduating to World of Outlaws and USAC competition. "My first pavement race was at Kentucky and I spun," said Chesson. "Then I finished second at Milwaukee last week. All of this is new to me, the language, and the cars. The last time I sat like that," said Chesson, referring to the cars, "I was sitting on the beach in a lawn chair drinking a beer."