Postrace press conference transcript from the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Homestead-Miami 100 on Feb. 29. Phil Giebler, Thiago Medeiros, Jesse Mason THE MODERATOR: With us we have third-place finisher Jesse Mason, a 19-year- old in the...
Postrace press conference transcript from the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Homestead-Miami 100 on Feb. 29.
Phil Giebler, Thiago Medeiros, Jesse Mason
THE MODERATOR: With us we have third-place finisher Jesse Mason, a 19-year- old in the Segway Human Transportation entry and also second-place finisher Thiago Medeiros in the Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry. Thiago finished second in this race last year as well.
Jesse, let's start with you. Warm day out there. Talk about your run.
JESSE MASON: Well, it was a good run. Right off the bat, I thought we did an OK job. It was a little bit tight out on the start, being my first start. The pack was kind of getting away. I saw (Paul) Dana get way ahead. I was just hanging back there in fourth. They were trying to get away, but I was able to pace myself, and I was really comfortable with my pattern and everything, so it was going good. Then obviously the caution helped us out a ton. I got a good restart, was kind of wanting to push Thiago (Medeiros) away so we could get away from the other guys. But really the fact is, I didn't do it correctly, and Phil (Giebler) and Rolando (Quintanilla) got around me.
But, yeah, the car was good. We had a little bit of a push in the draft and on cold tires, which is the reason they got around me. But the car was great. 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.
THE MODERATOR: Can you talk about being on an oval for the first time?
JESSE MASON: Yeah, definitely. And in a higher-power cars, too, it's all a totally new experience to me.
The difference from road-course racing is you have to be a lot more precise with everything, a lot more precise with the throttle, with the steering, and everything. Every little jerky input, you lose a ton. You know, you're battling for hundredths of a second rather than tenths. So the precision has to be way up there, and the car has to be perfect.
THE MODERATOR: Thiago, can you talk about finishing second for the second year in a row.
THIAGO MEDEIROS: I did my best. I made a few mistakes. Then I was thinking about it, about how I was going to pass (Paul) Dana. So I did my best.
Then the restart, the car was pretty loose because we had a problem with the right-rear tire. And, well, it was pretty good for me. I was trying to push it hard. Phil (Giebler) a better car than I did. I was trying to do my best. Sometimes you can't get the win, but you can get important points for the championship.
THE MODERATOR: Very good. Questions for anyone.
Q: You talk about the tires. Were they blistering during the stop? Did you see any problems with the tires?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Maybe my team couldn't set up the car really well for the end of the race. Phil, he had a better car than I did, so I was trying to push it hard. It was for those reasons that the tires had a blister, maybe.
THE MODERATOR: Jesse.
JESSE MASON: The tires on my car were fine. We were able to run by ourselves all day and run a smoother pattern than the guys that were running side by side. I think that has a little bit to do with it. You can run where you want, you know, maybe save the tires a little bit.
I saw Thiago's tire graining a little bit on the first caution. I was unsure, but I looked in my mirror, and I saw that our tires were fine. I put it down to the fact that we were running by ourselves.
When we came in, I knew the guys wouldn't change the tires. Our tires were fine. There was nothing to worry about. I was happy with the tires the whole race.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us right now is Phil Giebler. It's his first Pro Series win. The third win for the Western Union team. Tell us about your day.
PHIL GIEBLER: It was an amazing weekend. You know, we ran all weekend, and we were trying to improve the car the whole time. We had a really consistent car, that's for sure. We went into qualifying, and we had a few little problems. We changed the engine for the race. You know, everything ran fine in the race. I was really happy to get out there. The team worked all night, so I was really pleased that everything just came together. You know, they wanted to give me the best equipment, and that's what they did.
Just during the race, you know, we didn't get a start on the pre-grid, so we had to start from the back. We had a push-start in the pre-grid. So starting from the back was a bit of a problem for me at first, especially if we went green the whole way. I just tried to make smart moves and run up front as fast as I could. But, obviously, I wanted to make sure I stayed in the race in case a yellow came out.
The yellow came out, bunched us all back up, you know. I just ran behind Thiago. My car was OK behind people with the air in front of me. It wasn't disturbing the car too much. You know, I just analyzed what he was doing and where his weak spots were, and how I could get a better run on him.
I just pulled it out a couple laps to go, 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.
THE MODERATOR: Were you surprised with all the changes made overnight how quickly you got the car up to speed?
PHIL GIEBLER: Not really. I know Infiniti has very equal engines, and they run very good all the way through. We just did it as a security precaution because we had some problems. We ran the fuel low in our last practice, so we thought that might have hurt the engine. But, no, I trust the decisions that the team made. They all made the right decisions and gave me a car for the race.
Q: Thiago, did the two laps that we took off, 67 to 65, do you think that hurt you?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Maybe it helped me, you know, because he (Giebler) had a better car than I did. I had problems my right-rear tire. He had a better setup than my car, especially on long runs, so maybe it was my fault, too. Well, I was trying to push it hard, but then he passed me because I couldn't keep that up. I was driving on my limit, not overdriving the car limit. I just tried to finish the race and get important points for the championship.
Q: Phil, your first oval race.
PHIL GIEBLER: Yes, it's my first oval race, ever (laughter).
Q: Impressions of being on the oval the first time?
PHIL GIEBLER: Running by yourself is completely different, and racing is a different animal. But really, you just have to keep your nose clean the whole way and be smart and be patient really and let the race come to you. And that's what I did.
I just stayed patient. I had a lot of people helping me out, giving me bits of advice, Rick Mears, Memo Gidley, Alex Barron, Bryan Herta, right before I went out. Just little things that help out, just help the transition.
It was fine during the weekend. A race is a race. Turning left all the time is just what you have to deal with.
Q: Can you talk about starting the race with a push, being able to battle through with that push at the start of the race?
PHIL GIEBLER: Yeah. It didn't bother me too much, actually, because I know it's a long race. And with races on the oval, you see people come from the back all the time. You know, it didn't really bother me. I stayed really calm. The team helped me out, too, and told me where everybody was, how I was gaining. I was actually running very quick on my own. So I knew if we got bunched up, I'd be fine in the draft.
It wasn't really an issue.
Q: Phil, talk about the battle you had with Thiago.
PHIL GIEBLER: I felt fine out there. He gave me enough room. We ran each other hard. Your perception when you're on the oval is a little bit different, so it's a little bit adjusting to that. I just made sure I was giving him enough room in case he had some understeer or anything like that, wasn't running into me.
As soon as I figured out he was running fine down on the bottom, I kind of squeezed it down a little bit, just to help my run out a little bit out of the corners.
You know, we talked a little bit before the race. You know, he comes from road racing also. I think we both had the same mindset going into the race. We wanted to finish. We ran good all the way through.
THE MODERATOR: Very good. Thanks, guys. Congratulations, Phil
PHIL GIEBLER: Thank you.