Top-three finishers: <B>Ryan Hampton</B>, <B>Arie Luyendyk Jr.</B>, <B>Ed Carpenter</B> Moderator: Let's start with Ed Carpenter. The only Infiniti Pro Series driver with all five finishes in the top five. And...
Top-three finishers: <B>Ryan Hampton</B>, <B>Arie Luyendyk Jr.</B>, <B>Ed Carpenter</B>
Moderator: Let's start with Ed Carpenter. The only Infiniti Pro Series driver with all five finishes in the top five. And Arie Luyendyk Jr., runner-up, number -- too many?
<B>Arie Luyendyk Jr.</B>: Three.
Moderator: We'll open it up to you guys, generate your impressions on the race and your performance.
Ed Carpenter: Very similar to St. Louis. I think this is my third or fourth time I've been here, and it's a really unique racetrack. It's always a challenge. You have to get your car working well at one end of the track. Usually if you're working really good in (Turns) 3 and 4, you're going to be really tight in (Turns) 1 and 2; and so, it's a challenge, it's fun. It's difficult in the past, but it's possible, and I'm just happy to be on the podium again. You'd think if you'd run top five in all the races you'd be getting the points, but this is very competitive, and Anthony (Foyt) won a lot of races, so we're just going to keep going.
<B>Luyendyk</B>: Well, I like this track a lot. It's been definitely the best track for me as far as like-ability. I like this track a lot because it demands a lot of the driver. The series is going OK. We had a crash in the first race, so it really set us back, and we finished second three times. So it's getting a little frustrating, but I'm sure I'll be in the winner's circle very shortly.
Moderator: Let's welcome Ryan Hampton, winner of the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series here at Gateway. And if memory serves me correct: The first major race winner from Arizona on the oval. So, congratulations.
<B>Ryan Hampton</B>: Thank you much. Obviously Arie is from Arizona, too. We're trying to get Arizonans up there somewhere. It was a good race, though, I guess.
Moderator: You had to be very happy, all weekend long.
<B>Hampton</B>: Ecstatic. The car just worked perfect. My engineer just pretty much nailed it. We spent about a half-day out here testing, and I think we found exactly that magic little piece of information that we had that kind of just allowed us to continue going faster and faster. When the car rolled off the trailer, it was as fast as it is now, and we only did minor, minor tweaks.
Q: Arie, talk about the pass on one and two.
<B>Luyendyk</B>: Trying to remember it.
Q: You made a couple runs up on the outside of him.
<B>Luyendyk</B>: Yeah, it seemed like the front was strong on (Turns) 3 and 4. And I had an air push because when I was behind someone, which Ed could probably see, when I was behind Ryan, I could not really go flat through 3 and 4, and when I was alone, I could. I was much quicker than A.J. through 1 and 2 but just didn't have enough to get him at 3 and 4. I think he boggled or midshifted or something, which allowed me to get past. It was good because I think I was running a halfsecond quicker when I was behind myself than when I was behind A.J. So when I got free from him, it really opened a lot of ground for me to start hunting down Ryan. But he did a great job today, and hat's off to him and his crew because they have the best car, and Ryan didn't make any mistakes.
<B>Hampton</B>: Yeah, that was the biggest thing. Midrace, my car just started going away. It just stopped handling. I couldn't keep the thing on any given line. The last 10 laps, the car just hooked up, regained its grip.
<B>Luyendyk</B>: I was pushing hard the last seven laps. I think I ran one of them almost like eighttenths quicker than my qualifying lap. Just trying to I was doing that pretty consistently through the race when I was alone. I was trying my hardest but just didn't have enough today.
Q: Ryan, were you worried on the restart, were you concerned then?
<B>Hampton</B>: You're always worried on a restart. That's just the nature of the beast. I missed a shift I think when he was behind
<B>Luyendyk</B>: I thought you missed two.
<B>Hampton</B>: I missed one. I actually did miss a shift out there and it's like, 'Uhoh, we're in trouble, he's definitely going to try to go on the inside.' I just had to take the defensive line. Hope we didn't scare him too much.
<B>Luyendyk</B>: I knew it was going to do that, and I darted outside, and then I thought I was thinking I could drive on the outside probably, and maybe make a pass, but it would be doubtful because he would be on the inside in 3. So I just decided to give him the corner because I knew Ed was right behind me, and he would definitely pounce on the fact if we were going slow through 1 and 2. So I let him by because it was just no way that pass would have happened. It was kind of too hopeful.
<B>Hampton</B>: Fun race, though.
<B>Luyendyk</B>: Yeah, it was a fun race.
<B>Hampton</B>: When you're lead the whole time, it's fun.
Q: Ryan, you had a win in the F2000 series at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
<B>Hampton</B>: Three wins.
Q: So rate this one.
<B>Hampton</B>: This is probably up there with one of the most enjoyable, by far. I mean, it's obviously a bigger event, and the bigger it gets, the more fun it gets. At least it's been that way so far. We'll find out, though. I think it's more glamorous, I would say, and definitely more fun when you lead the entire race.
Q: Ed, talk about the Silver Crown races you had here and the difference in getting with this car you were talking about in testing, just very, very different deal.
Carpenter: Yeah, we had no wings, no downforce. We were heavy on the brakes at both ends of the track. We just had twice the amount of horsepower. We were not a lot faster down the straightaway. But pretty much two drag strips and it's over kind of car, two tight corners for a Silver Crown car, without any downforce. So here we ran almost wide open through 3 and 4 and no brakes on 1 and 2, so it's a big difference.
Q: During the next year, there will be a reward system established, can you do anything about that?
Carpenter: That's the first I've heard of that. It's a great idea, but, I mean, right now some of the teams we have are completely funded, and I think we should work on getting all of the teams funded on getting a full field before we do something like that. It's a great idea. Aaron and I and Ronnie Johncox went through USAC, and we are showing that we can run up front, and we need to bring more into the series.
Q: Ryan, what is your background?
<B>Hampton</B>: Basically I started in gokarts at 14 years old, gokarts until I was 18 and then I moved into SCCA regional competition, won a championship there. And then I moved up to I did a couple Skip Barber races, won there, left. And then went to F2000 and spent three years in F2000, and finished very well, second in the championship, Oval Crown Rookie of the Year. And then the last couple of years, I've actually done sports-car racing, like Daytona, prototype stuff, and that actually helps out a lot in setting these things up, especially in a tight track like this. There's a lot of things in knowledge and experience that you can take with you here. And of course, the guy who funded it definitely makes it even easier, which is (team owner) Garlon Frost, he makes it very easy. So that's basically my background. Just about anything, anything and everything.
Carpenter: On the restart, G.J. Mennen got underneath me, and I wasn't just going to let him go by. I was going to try to wanted to give up the spot, and the car actually worked really well up there. I had been running high on 3 and 4 all day, and the car felt good up there. I didn't need to squeeze it down. I felt like I could keep more momentum up there, and it worked out nicely because everyone else was running in a lower groove, so I could just kind of run my own line and try to make a pass. It got a little tight because like Arie would have a handling problem in the middle and moved on me a little bit coming out, but he gave me plenty of room. I just wanted to make the pass on Arie, but I made it work on A.J.
Q: Arie, your test session got cut a little short, but obviously you picked up some things in that, what are the things you worked on when you got back to the shop?
<B>Luyendyk</B>: We came here to test, and right out of the box, the first session we did a third row in four. So we're thinking we got a lot of speed, but then they mandated the (inaudible) flap for this weekend. So basically everything that our team learned in the testing was thrown away, which I think that experience and a lot of guys who came testing here. Yeah, we came here with cars put together, and we had a lot of fuel-pressure problems, which really didn't give me any track time, and I really needed it because I didn't know what happened when I spun; the car just lost total grip, and I don't know if it was just a threshold or I don't know what it was. When we hit the wall, there was kind of there was questions on why I hit the wall because we could not figure it out by looking at the data or anything. So when we came, I wasn't very confident in the car at first because it wasn't very comfortable to drive, and the handling, we definitely needed to work on. You know, every session, we got better, and then in qualifying just kind of went for it, and that's when we started to improve the car a lot.