IPS: Indy 100: Inaugural race notes

Carpenter makes history with Freedom 100 victory INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 18, 2003 -- Pole sitter Ed Carpenter joined elite company as a winner of an inaugural race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, capturing the Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro...

Carpenter makes history with Freedom 100 victory

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 18, 2003 -- Pole sitter Ed Carpenter joined elite company as a winner of an inaugural race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, capturing the Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series race May 18.

Carpenter, 22, who grew up a few miles from the Speedway, joined Ray Harroun (Indianapolis 500, 1911), Jeff Gordon (Brickyard 400, 1994), Mark Martin (IROC at Indy, 1998) and Michael Schumacher (United States Grand Prix, 2000) as winners of inaugural races at Indy.

It was the first career Infiniti Pro Series victory for USAC short-track standout Carpenter, driving the No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt.

"A.J. knows this place," Carpenter said of his legendary team owner. "We made a change last night after the rain delay, and A.J. (Foyt) hit it right on the head. I have to credit that for the win today. The car was perfect. It was fun to drive."

The race resumed on Lap 13, as it was halted by rain Saturday at that point, and Carpenter wasted little time moving to the front of the field. Series points leader Mark Taylor passed Carpenter for the lead in Turn 1 on Lap 21, but Carpenter passed Taylor in Turn 3 on that lap and never trailed thereafter. He won by 13.9522 seconds.

"Taylor got a little jump on me on that last restart and got me a little worried," Carpenter said. "I was just giving it everything I had to get in there and get a good run on him off (Turn) 2. Luckily, I got him back by Turn 3, and there was no turning back from there."

Foyt, who scored four wins at Indianapolis as a driver and owned Kenny Brack's car when Brack won the1999 Indianapolis 500, was happy to score his sixth win at the Brickyard.

"He did a great job," Foyt said. "He kept his head clear all day. The car performed perfectly."

Cory Witherill finished second in the No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, .1247 of a second ahead of third-place Taylor in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

"It was awesome," Witherill said. "There were a whole bunch of us out there. The Hemelgarn Johnson WSA team did a great job. Once we got the green, it was just a matter of getting up front as fast as we can. Obviously, everyone wants to win this first race. Carpenter was just gone, but it was a good race for second on back. Mark (Taylor) is a great driver, as is Jeff Simmons."

Witherill, Simmons and Taylor put on an impressive show from Laps 22-40, with all three drivers swapping second through fourth place regularly, driving side by side through the tricky turns of the historic, 2.5-mile oval.

Taylor, driver of the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, saw the end to his unbeaten streak in the Indy Racing League development series. He won the first two races of the season, at Homestead-Miami and Phoenix. But Taylor kept the series points lead, leading Thiago Medeiros, 139-91.

"It was a very tough race," Taylor said. "I just wasn't able to tow past and stay in front of people. It is just one of those things. It is something I knew I had to learn when I came into the series.

"It feels strange to be third, but it is a good result. It would have been nice to win another race, but you can't win them all. I try my best. The car finished the race, and third was the best we could do today."

Simmons, driver of the No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, finished fourth. Jonathan Urlin, driver of the No. 3 Budget Rent A Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, finished fifth.

Gary Peterson, driver of the No. 27 Automatic Fires Sprinklers Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, was involved in the only accident during the restarted race.

On Lap 16, shortly after the field had received the green flag to restart the race, Peterson made contact with the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall in the middle of Turn 4 with the right side of the car. He was uninjured.

The next Infiniti Pro Series event is the Pikes Peak 100 on June 14 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

-ims-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Schumacher , Mark Taylor , Cory Witherill , Gary Peterson , Jeff Simmons , Jonathan Urlin , A.J. Foyt , Mark Martin , Ed Carpenter