IPS: Nashville: Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports race report

Witherill captures first Infiniti Pro Series win, Fike earns a podium. Lebanon, Tenn. -- The Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports team showed strength with a stellar performance at the 1.33-mile, concrete Nashville Superspeedway Saturday afternoon...

Witherill captures first Infiniti Pro Series win, Fike earns a podium.

Lebanon, Tenn. -- The Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports team showed strength with a stellar performance at the 1.33-mile, concrete Nashville Superspeedway Saturday afternoon July 20. Navajo Cory Witherill captured his first Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series in dominating style while teammate Aaron Fike muscled his way from the tail of the field, bringing home a third place finish.

Witherill, a former off-road champion, cruised to victory 8.0502 seconds over second place No. 5 Arie Luyendyk Jr. After leading 68 of 77 laps in a caution-free race, Witherill was presented with a custom-made Gibson guitar as the trophy. During the victory celebration, he credited his team with the victory.

"It was an awesome job that the team did," said Witherill, of Santa Monica, Calif. "They gave me a car that was perfect. I have to hand it to the crew; they really worked hard the last few days and the last few weeks getting the car ready. This one definitely goes to them."

The Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports team did a phenomenal job not only with Witherill's No. 92 WSA/Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone but also with Fike.

Nineteen-year-old Aaron got off to a slow start after losing a gearbox during Friday's first practice session. The team scrambled to repair Fike's No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing/Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone but ran out of time prior to his qualification attempt. Consequently, the 2001 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year started from the 12th spot.

Nevertheless, the feisty youngster took off like a rocket when the green flag dropped, charging his way through the field and posting the fastest lap of the event with a speed of 165.631 mph, 28.2556 seconds. Although a determined Fike was reeling in the race leaders, he simply just ran out of time.

"Everything went really smooth," said Fike of Galesburg, Ill. "I am sure me and Cory had the fastest cars out there. I got more comfortable the longer I ran out there. I got more confident in the car. I kept going faster and faster as the race went on. We had a long way to go, we didn't have any yellows. We needed a longer racer, or a couple of yellows to attack the field up there. I was coming, we just didn't have enough laps."

Fike's performance moved him into sixth in the series point standings with 54. Witherill leads the series with a total 87 points after scoring his second top-three finish.

Incidentally, Witherill's win brought co-owner Ron Hemelgarn his second trip to victory lane at Nashville Superspeedway. His Indy Racing League driver, Buddy Lazier, won the inaugural event last year.

The next event for the new Indy Racing League development series is July 28 at the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway.

-hjm-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Cory Witherill , Aaron Fike , Arie Luyendyk Jr.