For a guy who had never seen an oval track much less driven on one -- before -- the Menards Infiniti Pro Series open test at Phoenix on February 10th, Phil Giebler learned the ropes in a hurry, winning the Homestead-Miami 100 season opener on the...
For a guy who had never seen an oval track much less driven on one -- before -- the Menards Infiniti Pro Series open test at Phoenix on February 10th, Phil Giebler learned the ropes in a hurry, winning the Homestead-Miami 100 season opener on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway today.
Giebler, a Formula 3000 veteran, took the lead from Thiago Medeiros on lap 60 of the 67-lap contest, which was run in fits and starts. His margin of victory over Medeiros was 4.1372 seconds.
"I just pulled it out a couple laps to go," Giebler said about the final laps and his debut victory. "I just made it stick. I wanted to see if he could hang with me. Really, I think he can hold his line when he was behind me. So I think, you know, I made the move at the right time, and that's what probably ended us on the front with the championship, the win."
On lap 23, there was contact in turn 4 between polesitter Paul Dana and second starter Arie Luyendyk Jr., eliminating both from the contest after a fierce battle for the lead. Neither driver was injured in the melee. Green flew once more on lap 35 yet the IRL called for a full-course caution on lap 37 and halted the contest on lap 38 to inspect Firestone Firehawk racing tires, as some of the drivers had reported blistering.
"I was trying to push it hard," Medeiros recalled. "And maybe my car was not set up really well for the end of the race. It was for those reasons that the tires had a blister, maybe."
I did my best. I made a few mistakes," added Mediros on his second year in a row for finishing second in the season opener. "Sometimes you can't get the win, but you can get important points for the championship."
Following the opportunity to change rubber, the race commenced once more and Medeiros led Giebler from lap 41 until the 23-year-old Californian made his move on lap 59. Giebler then pulled ahead and took his first Menards Infiniti Pro Series win for the #2 Western Union Racing Team fielded by Keith Duesenberg.
Medeiros was second in the #11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry, followed by rookie Jesse Mason's #3 Brian Stewart Racing Segway Human Transportation Dallara/Infiniti.
"The car was great," commented rookie driver Mason. "Segway and Brian Stewart gave me a great opportunity to be here, and I'm just happy with how things went. The facility is awesome. Being my first time here, it was great. You can run up high, down low. The car is comfortable everywhere.
"I would say I like the shorter tracks a little bit better, being at Phoenix. Hopefully, next race will be a couple steps up," Mason added.
Another rookie, Tony Turco finished fourth in the #33 BSR Cars entry, followed by Brad Pollard, a lap down in fifth driving the #24 XBOX/Team ISI car. Rolando Quintanilla finished sixth, two laps down in the #10 Roquin Motorsports Dallara, Marty Roth was seventh in the Roth Racing entry and was the final driver still on the circuit.