Erwin finishes third Sunday in the Western Union 100 at Homestead. MIAMI, FL., March 2 - In only his first race with the No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports team and his second visit to Homestead Miami Speedway ever, Brandon Erwin ...
Erwin finishes third Sunday in the Western Union 100 at Homestead.
MIAMI, FL., March 2 - In only his first race with the No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports team and his second visit to Homestead Miami Speedway ever, Brandon Erwin certainly proved he was a force to be reckoned with. Charging from the back of the pack, passing more cars that any other driver in the race, he finished third before the 67 laps ran out in the Western Union 100 Infinity Pro Series event Sunday at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Brandon Erwin tested at Miami in early February and found it an educational experience in preparing for his first Infinity Pro race. During race weekend the team had 3 practice sessions to prepare for qualifying. He was running in the top 3 during the practice sessions.
"We noticed we still had a slight push in turns 3 and 4, so we made some changes to the car from the morning session to try and make a difference. As I was running out there, I noticed the times weren't really any faster. Then we realized that the track had changed. The wind made a big difference. We were much faster in the afternoon. So, after a few laps to fine tune, we then felt we had the right combination to run well."
However, high winds and a strong "understear" in the car challenged Erwin during qualifying. He qualified in eighth position for Sunday's race.
"The run wasn't as good as we would have liked," said Erwin. "Through turns 3 and 4 the wind seemed to affect the car quite a bit and I just didn't get as clean of a lap as we expected."
Erwin added, "The Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Team has prepared a great race car and I'm happy for that. We've been real good in practice running in traffic, but our qualifying run wasn't what we are capable of. The race is only 67 laps, but I still feel we'll have that combination to work our way back to the front."
Erwin did battle his way up from 8th position to 3rd position taking over one car at a time. Toward the end of the race there was only one driver that challenged him for 3rd position.
"I saw him in my mirror, checking him every lap down the straightaway. I tried not to focus on him. I didn't think he had what it took to pass on the outside. I was running the lower part of the track better than most of the guys. I knew he was behind me and I knew lap traffic was coming. The first lap car kind of messed me up a little bit. He closed me down when he could have given me some room going into the corner. Once I cleared him, he stayed out of Aries' way. We came up on another car, but it just worked out perfect. Coming off of turn 2, I got right around him. He ran back up on me into the final turn, but was high up there and didn't have anything for me off the corner."
Erwin had his hands full dealing with hard "push" in turns three and four, but was encouraged by the fact that the car was at its best at the end of the race. In the last few laps he was running laps as fast as the other podium finishers, Mark Taylor and Thiago Medeiros.
"We started in eighth and began working our way up through the pack. At first, the car had a real bad push, but I just calmed myself down and began to focus on the job we had to do. I felt like I was going slower, but I was actually picking up speed, working with the weight-jacker. The guys in my crew were great! They were telling me, '-- it's working, so keep doing it.'
"My Sponsor, Natural Golf, is the reason I am here today. I am so thankful for their support. We have a third-place finish and a great start to go forward in the point standings. You can expect to see the to see the Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports #99 up front all year long!"