IPS: Kansas: Friday practice notes

Carpenter heads up hot field at Kansas KANSAS CITY, Kan., Friday, July 4, 2003 -- Ed Carpenter is the driver to beat for the pole position for the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 Infiniti Pro Series race this weekend at Kansas Speedway after he led...

Carpenter heads up hot field at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan., Friday, July 4, 2003 -- Ed Carpenter is the driver to beat for the pole position for the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 Infiniti Pro Series race this weekend at Kansas Speedway after he led both practice sessions July 4.

Freedom 100 winner Carpenter posted his fastest lap of the day, 29.2975 seconds, 182.842 mph, during the second practice in the No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. He led the first session at 30.1426, 181.537.

This event marks the first anniversary of the Infiniti Pro Series, the official Indy Racing League development series that started in July 2002 on the 1.5-mile Kansas oval. Carpenter is one of six drivers in the field this weekend who also raced in the inaugural event last year at Kansas.

"I've been looking forward to getting to this point in the schedule to tracks we raced on last year because there are not many guys left in the series who have done the whole season," Carpenter said. "I think it's a little bit of an advantage. We've run here and know what to expect when we get on the track.

"The same goes for the race. I've got 100 miles here, so I'm looking forward to Sunday. I'm hoping that the experience of having a season under me starts to help me out because Mark's (Taylor) 52 points ahead of me in the championship. I've got eight races to make it up, so hopefully coming to all these tracks for a second time will help a little bit."

Infiniti Pro Series drivers return to the track at 11:15 a.m. (EDT) Saturday for practice, followed by qualifying at 4:15 p.m. The race starts at 11:10 a.m. (EDT) Sunday and will be televised on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. (EDT) that evening.

Series points leader Mark Taylor, a rookie, was second fastest overall at 30.1398, 181.554 in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Brandon Erwin was third at 30.2879, 180.666 in the No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Rookie Jeff Simmons was fourth at 30.2977, 180.608 in the No. 20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, while fellow rookie Thiago Medeiros rounded out the top five at 30.3119, 180.523 in the No. 36 Genoa Racing entry.

Drivers and teams had to cope with extreme heat, as the air temperature was in the mid-90s with the heat index exceeding 100 degrees due to humidity.

"With the heat like it is, you're learning all the time and making sure that the car is working well in every type of temperature," Taylor said. "Qualifying is going to be extremely important tomorrow. It'll be in the heat, so it's something we have to get used to."

Gary Peterson was unhurt during a crash in the second practice. His No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers entry did a quarter-spin between Turns 3 and 4 and hit the outside retaining wall in Turn 4 with the right rear and right side of the car.

AVENTIS RACING FOR KIDS 100 PRACTICE QUOTES:

ED CARPENTER (No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"Kansas is where we started the Infiniti Pro Series last season. I've been looking forward to getting to this point in the schedule to tracks we raced on last year because there are not many guys left in the series who have done the whole season. I think it's a little bit of an advantage. We've run here and know what to expect when we get on the track. The same goes for the race. I've got 100 miles here, so I'm looking forward to Sunday. I'm hoping that the experience of having a season under me starts to help me out because Mark's (Taylor) 52 points ahead of me in the championship. I've got eight races to make it up, so hopefully coming to all these tracks for a second time will help a little bit."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 4 Panther Fulmar Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"The car is working well. The track is pretty comfortable. It's our first time here, so we're taking the time to learn the track. That's what we did this morning. I was half-surprised that we were second quickest this morning. It was a bit of a shame that we stayed second quickest this afternoon. I would have liked to have gone quicker than I did. With the heat like it is, you're learning all the time and making sure that the car is working well in every type of temperature. Qualifying is going to be extremely important tomorrow. It'll be in the heat, so it's something we have to get used to."

About leading the points:

"We went so well in the first two races, you almost start thinking that it's too easy. We went to Indy, and we had a good car. We were just beaten by two very good cars and two very good drivers. There's nothing to be ashamed of with a third place. It was experience. I felt I could have won the race if we'd just pinpointed it early enough. At Pikes Peak, we'd never been there before, and we didn't realize how much it was going to change through the day. It just caught me off guard, and I didn't get the car sorted out as quickly as I should have."

BRANDON ERWIN (No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"Our team did really well today. We have been in the top five all day and ended up third in the last practice session. We have been working on the race setup and learned a lot today. We have some good things figured out. We believe qualifying will take care of itself tomorrow. I think once we get in the race, we will have a good race car. I could not be happier with the way our team is working together, putting a good race car underneath me and moving forward."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"It wasn't too bad this morning. It was a little more hot this afternoon, and it seems like we have some sort of small engine problem. It didn't feel right out there. The track is pretty smooth, pretty fast. It should make for good racing because I think you can run a lot of lines here. You'll be able to run two, maybe three wide, assuming you can stay out of the gray in the corners. We're trying to work on our qualifying setup a little bit here. We want to try and work on our race setup tomorrow when (the conditions) are more like when we're going to race."

THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"I'm pretty happy. In the first practice, we were just trying to set up the car. We made a big change from the first to the second practice. The draft here makes a lot of difference. I've been to Homestead-Miami Speedway, which is the same distance as here, but it's a completely different track. Miami is flat, and a lot of things are different here, particularly in the setup."

About the extreme heat:

"Remember, I'm a Brazilian. In the north of Brazil, it's very hot, too. I have to drink a lot of water. You've got to keep your body, especially your mind, working good."

CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"It went all right today. I think we were fifth in both sessions, so overall we're consistent. I think we can get a little more out of the car and move up the leaderboard. Obviously, the heat plays a big factor in the performance of the cars and engines. I, myself, don't mind the heat; it doesn't really affect me. Hopefully it will be a bit cooler tomorrow so we'll post better qualifying times."

TOM WOOD (No. 9 Trailblazer Drilling/Savanna Energy Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"The car was a pretty good race car. We were primarily working on racing in traffic and working on the setup. Now, we go to working on the qualifying setup, and we should be good from there."

-irl-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Brandon Erwin , Sam Schmidt , Gary Peterson , Jeff Simmons , A.J. Foyt , Ed Carpenter