IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series' Most Popular Driver, Arie Luyendyk, Jr., Kicks off 2004 With a Fast Weekend in Homestead - Arie Jr. Uninjured in Lap 22 Accident - ARIE LUYENDYK, JR. RACE WEEKEND RESULTS: Qualified: 2nd (28.191 mph, 189.629...
IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series' Most Popular Driver, Arie Luyendyk, Jr., Kicks off 2004 With a Fast Weekend in Homestead
- Arie Jr. Uninjured in Lap 22 Accident -
ARIE LUYENDYK, JR. RACE WEEKEND RESULTS:
Qualified: 2nd (28.191 mph, 189.629 mph)
Finished: 9th (running in 3rd spot until accident on lap 22)
NOTE: Arie Jr. was the quickest driver overall in both practices on Friday for the "Homestead-Miami 100," with a time of 28.313 seconds and a speed of 188.818 mph.
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. RACE AND ACCIDENT DETAILS:
Arie Jr. was being patient, running third behind his teammate Thiago Medeiros as they drafted together toward the front and leader Paul Dana during the early part of the race. They were running faster than Dana around lap 20 (of 67), and Thiago passed Dana for the lead. Arie Jr. was attempting to draft and follow Thiago around Dana and they were side-by-side when Dana suddenly turned right into Arie Jr., making contact and spinning him around, with the car's left rear making hard contact with the turn four wall first, and then the entire left side of the car also making heavy contact. The car rebounded down the track to below the racing surface, coming to a rest inside of turn four. Arie Jr. got out of the car without assistance and was transported to the infield care center where he was examined, and then released and cleared to drive with no injuries.
POST-RACE QUOTES FROM ARIE LUYENDYK JR.
About the accident:
"I'm really not sure what happened out there with Paul Dana. It looked like he just drove up into me and stuck me in the wall. This isn't the first time I've been taken out by that same driver. My Active International/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car was awesome in traffic, and I really think I had something for my teammate Thiago (Medeiros) for the end of the race. We were working really well together during the early part of the race, drafting and catching the leader pretty fast. I was trying to conserve tires and run behind Thiago in order for both of us to catch Paul (Dana, race leader). I sucked behind him (Thiago) and tried to not use up the tires. After I crashed, though, I found out my right rear tire was extremely blistered, and that might have caused a blow out in the next few laps anyway, although if we could have made it to that red flag (lap 38) and changed all four tires, we might have been fine for the end and challenge for the win. Thiago's tires were also really blistered, which caused him to fall back at the end. That was a major problem in the race -- the four fastest cars all had major blistering problems. So who knows how the end of the race would have been for me if I had a chance to run all of the laps. We are a small budget team just trying to run a few races early this year, and this really hurt our chances to get to the next race in my hometown of Phoenix."
How are you feeling after your accident?
"I am fine. I hit my knee on the steering column in the crash, and that hurt for a little bit, but I'm feeling OK now, although it was a big hit and I really don't want to have to experience that again."
Overall impression of the weekend, minus the crash?
"The weekend went really well up until the point of the crash. We had a good car, and Thiago and I worked really well together in the practices and the race. It is important to have a teammate to run with to get feedback on the cars by themselves and in traffic. But that's partly why we wanted to run on Sam's team (Sam Schmidt Motorsports). That's the value of a teammate - you can run different setups and try different things, which is better for both of us. I had a good time working with my crew guys and getting to know them a bit, and Sam and his other staff members were also great to work around. I wish I could have given them a better result, or at least a car that was in once piece at the end of the day, but that was out of my control after being taken out of the race. I hope to go to Phoenix and change that luck and be able to bring both Sam and I our first wins."
Arie Jr. made his record 20th start in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway this past weekend, and finished in the top 10 for a record 10th consecutive race.
A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TIMED JUST RIGHT:
Arie Jr. was asked to participate in a promotion with the IRL's new Official Timekeeper and Scorer, TAG Heuer, on Sunday prior to the start of the Toyota Indy 300. The IRL arranged a race between Jean-Christoph Babin, the CEO of TAG Heuer, and Arie Jr., from turn four to the start-finish line at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with Babin piloting a gas-powered Indy Car, and Arie Jr. in a Menards Infiniti Pro Series machine (Arie Jr. had to replace his own #5 entry with the #11 of his teammate Thiago Medeiros after Arie Jr.'s car was too damaged to run because his earlier accident in the Pro Series race). Photo opportunities, media interviews and a question and answer session followed the race, in which Babin narrowly beat Arie Jr. at the line to take the victory! TAG Heuer's director of timing Jean Capeche joined the post-race festivities, as well as other TAG Heuer representatives.
QUOTE FROM ARIE JR. ON THE TAG HEUER PROMOTION:
"I was asked by the IRL to do a demonstration to kick off TAG Heuer's involvement in the IRL, and I was pleased and proud to do that for them. I raced TAG Heuer's CEO, Jean-Christoph Babin, from turn four to the checkers at the start-finish line, and he beat me by a few feet! Do you believe that? It went well and I had a lot of fun. I am always happy to help the IRL out with whatever they need in order to promote the series. It was great - I was honored to meet the TAG Heuer representatives as I've always liked their watches."
This was the first race for Arie Jr. running for the Sam Schmidt Motorsports organization, teaming with 21-year-old Brazilian Thiago Medeiros for 2004. Arie Jr. ran for the Sinden Racing Service team in 2003, and started in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2002 with Luyendyk Racing, an entry fielded by his father, two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk.
See Arie race in the "Homestead-Miami 100" IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series race (tape delayed highlights) on Thursday, March 4, at 4:00 (ET) on ESPN2.
"Phoenix 100" at Arie Jr.'s home track, the Phoenix (AZ) International Raceway, Saturday, March 20th. Highlights from the "Phoenix 100" will be televised on March 25th at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.