IPS: Phoenix: Jon Herb race notes

JON HERB SCORES FIRST IRL MENARDS INFINITI PRO SERIES VICTORY IN "PHOENIX 100"; RACE TELEVISED THIS THURSDAY - Leads points heading into historic first street race in St. Petersburg INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Although there have been few race car...

JON HERB SCORES FIRST IRL MENARDS INFINITI PRO SERIES VICTORY IN "PHOENIX 100"; RACE TELEVISED THIS THURSDAY

- Leads points heading into historic first street race in St. Petersburg

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Although there have been few race car drivers able to successfully pursue their passion while also owning their own team, Orlando, Fla. resident Jon Herb has proven that theory wrong.

On a day that was predicted to be washed away by rain showers, fair weather and a fair amount of great driving prevailed long enough to see Jon Herb win the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series' "Phoenix 100" by .7052 of a second over Chris Festa. Herb has competed in partial Menards Infiniti Pro Series and IndyCar Series seasons the past five years, with a best finish of third in the recent "Homestead-Miami 100" held on March 6th on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Herb leads the Menards Infiniti Pro Series point standings over Travis Gregg heading into the inaugural "Grand Prix of St. Petersburg" event through the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 1-3, 2005.

Herb, starting fourth in the No. 6 AERCON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, passed pole sitter Travis Gregg on a Lap 20 restart after the second of five caution periods and held on for the win after half of the 14 cars that started the race crashed before the checkers (no injuries), but thankfully behind Herb's race-leading efforts. Those mishaps eventually caused the race to be shortened by 10 laps due to time constraints. Herb's pass of Gregg on the restart marked the first laps led this season by a driver other than Gregg.

Herb, 34, who owns the Racing Professionals team, recorded top-10 finishes in two of his three Menards Infiniti Pro Series races last year. In a handful of IndyCar Series events, he has a best finish of ninth at Texas Motor Speedway in 2001.

"I got a good start initially and got up to second before the caution," said Herb, who plans to compete in the full 14-race Menards Infiniti Pro Series season. "Then I got a good restart on Travis (Gregg), and we seemed to have a better car than those guys on the longer runs. Towards the end, lap traffic was an issue, but Chris Festa did a good job keeping behind me and making me stay on my game.

"It wasn't as easy as I'd like to have it," an excited Herb said after exiting his winning machine, "but I'll take it anyway I can get it."

Jon Herb and his Racing Professionals #6 AERCON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone will have their next chance at extending their point lead in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series on Sunday, April 3rd, as the series heads to the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. for the inaugural road circuit on the IRL calendar.

Television Coverage: The "Phoenix 100" IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Race will be televised on Thursday, March 24, 3:00 pm (EST) on ESPN2.

JON HERB QUOTES:

(Jon Herb on what this win means to his program looking toward the next few races and the remainder of the season): "It (winning) is just proof that our program is working. I've always been able to work well with Larry Curry (Team Manager/Engineer). He knows what I like in the car, and I understand his program. I have confidence in his ability, and it leads to success on the track. Joe (Barlam, crew chief) and the guys on the team also do a great job giving me a good, reliable car that I can drive one-hundred percent. We'll just keep doing what we're doing with the program and focus on the rest of the season."

(Jon Herb on being a successful car owner as well as driver): "I have regular business responsibilities with AERCON Industries, our concrete block and panel manufacturer (based in Florida), so the racing business - to me - is second nature. The business end of racing is just more responsibility in addition to what I do at AERCON. The racing product stands alone. Our ability to execute the racing program effectively and pull together good people to get the results we want are part of our daily goals...just like any other successful business."

(On testing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course on Thursday, March 24): "I am really looking forward to the upcoming test on Indy's road course. It should be a lot of fun. Obviously, the preparation and testing on these road courses will be very important to a successful year in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, and certainly, will mean a lot when we return to race in conjunction with the upcoming Formula One race there in June."

(On upcoming "Grand Prix of St. Petersburg" street circuit April 1-3): St. Pete will be tricky, as none of us have gotten to test there. But I started out as a road course racer, so I'm not concerned about my ability to perform on a road or street course. Obviously, we'll take the momentum we gained from winning in Phoenix into St. Pete and hope to run well there and continue to lead the point standings in our chase for the Championship. I think we're in a good position to do that."

(From IRL press conference): "We did as you mentioned led practice. We had the fastest car in the second session and overall and second quickest in the morning session. That really gave me a lot of confidence coming in here with the car, basically exactly the same car that we ran there. Just added a little downforce that we'd taken away for qualifying. I had a lot of confidence that we'd be fast, although I was a little disappointed we didn't make a better run at the pole. But those guys got something figured out over there. So my hat's off to them. In the race itself, like I said before, we had a good start on the outside, moved up to second for that first wreck, was able to catch Travis on a subsequent restart on the inside, moved past, and moved on. Obviously, a lot of guys had a lot of problems today with their setups and their cold tires. I don't think they were prepared for the type of race we have here."

(From IRL press conference): "Yeah, I mean, I had a moment behind a lapped car or two. I mean, there's -- these guys are struggling out there. Obviously, they're out here learning. This is a development series to a point. But it the top rung of the ladder to the IRL, to the IndyCar Series. So that being the case, it was a little close out there with a couple cars, I almost tanked one or two that weren't holding their line real well as I came up on them."

-jhr/jv-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Jon Herb , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg