IPS: Pikes Peak: Race notes

Fike wins rain-shortened Pikes Peak 100 FOUNTAIN, Colo., Saturday, June 14, 2003 -- Aaron Fike earned his second career IRL Infiniti Pro Series victory by winning the rain-shortened Pikes Peak 100 on June 14 at Pikes Peak International ...

Fike wins rain-shortened Pikes Peak 100

FOUNTAIN, Colo., Saturday, June 14, 2003 -- Aaron Fike earned his second career IRL Infiniti Pro Series victory by winning the rain-shortened Pikes Peak 100 on June 14 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

The race ended after 87 of 100 scheduled laps due to rain, which triggered the final caution period of the race on Lap 84. Fike averaged 115.093 mph in the No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for his first victory of the season.

"This is one of my favorite tracks," Fike said. "I've always had good luck here. This one's for my dad. It's Father's Day tomorrow, so it's a great present for him."

Pole sitter Jeff Simmons finished second in the No. 20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, with Arie Luyendyk Jr. completing a stirring drive from the rear of the field to finish third in the No. 5 Sinden Racing Service entry.

Fike, who started third, took the lead for good on Lap 6 when leader and teammate Cory Witherill was forced to the pits in his No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone after brushing the wall exiting Turn 4. Witherill had passed Simmons for the lead on Lap 4.

After taking the lead, USAC short-track star Fike then set a quick pace on the 1-mile oval, expanding his lead to 6.4 seconds over Simmons by Lap 33.

In the meantime, Luyendyk was slicing through slower cars and traffic after starting 11th. He passed Freedom 100 winner Ed Carpenter for third place on Lap 42 with an inside move between Turns 1 and 2.

"We had a bit of a bad qualifying, and we were lost with the car," Luyendyk said. "We didn't know what to do. We were two seconds slower than pole, and Steve Erickson, my engineer, and the team worked really hard. They gave me a car that could win today, and we were catching the leader by two-tenths every single lap.

"We just ran out of time with the rain. From second-last to third place isn't too bad. The team and the car couldn't have been better."

Luyendyk and Simmons were side by side in a lap-long duel for second on Lap 63. That sizzling chase for position was reduced to a simmer by the second-to-last caution period of the race on Lap 65, triggered by a spin by Tom Wood caused by engine problems in his No. 9 Wingate Inn/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.

The ensuing restart on Lap 75 gave Simmons and Luyendyk a chance to make a run at leader Fike. But Fike pulled away on the restart and led by .5512 of a second after the first green lap, continuing to pull away on subsequent laps.

"I wasn't too concerned," Fike said about the final restart. "We had a lap car in there. We had a tall second gear in there. It seemed like it went forever, and I couldn't get the restarts that I wanted.

"But I knew that as long as I could get up into fourth gear and beat them into Turn 1, it would be hard for them to get by me because they were experiencing the same things as me as far as the car and how tight the car was."

Rookie Simmons also was able to pull away from Luyendyk on the restart en route to his career-best finish.

"I got a good start, but we were just a little bit off," Simmons said. "The Western Union Speed Team didn't get much practice time this weekend. We ended up with a great car for qualifying. We just didn't know what these conditions were like. We hadn't run in the heat like we had at the beginning of this race. We were off a little bit with the pressures and stuff like that, I think.

"Once a couple of guys got by, the car was getting slower and slower. I was just trying to hold (Arie) Luyendyk off there at the end."

Series points leader Mark Taylor finished fifth in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. He leads second place Thiago Medeiros, 169-119, in the series standings. Medeiros finished sixth in the race in the No. 36 Genoa Racing entry.

Rookie Paul Dana did not start the race after crashing with Brandon Erwin in pre-race practice. Dana and Erwin were unhurt after colliding between Turns 3 and 4. But Dana's No. 24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone suffered heavy damage and couldn't be repaired before the race.

Erwin started the race despite moderate damage to his No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry in the practice crash. He was credited with 11th place after completing just nine laps of the race due to electrical problems.

The next IRL Infiniti Pro Series race is the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 on July 6 at Kansas Speedway.

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Cory Witherill , Sam Schmidt , Aaron Fike , Tom Wood , Jeff Simmons , Paul Dana , Ed Carpenter , Arie Luyendyk Jr.