Menards Infiniti Pro Series dreamerscandles.com 100 Post-race press conference transcript Mark Taylor, series champion Thiago Medeiros, winner Jeff Simmons, second Cory Witherill, third Moderator: Congratulations, Mark. Mark, quite an incident...
Menards Infiniti Pro Series dreamerscandles.com 100
Post-race press conference transcript
Mark Taylor, series champion
Thiago Medeiros, winner
Jeff Simmons, second
Cory Witherill, third
Moderator: Congratulations, Mark. Mark, quite an incident over in the corner, go ahead and describe what it was you saw happening and just the thought that was going through your mind while it was all playing out.
Mark Taylor: It was just a right close race. When you've got that many cars, that close together, you have to be very careful of each other. So, it's very important to try and get the position when you can, not lose position when you can stop it. So, at the restart the problem is getting past people. Aaron (Fike) got past Arie (Luyendyk Jr.) quite quickly on the restart. So, I was hoping to just follow him through and got along on a side him down the backstretch. And, he says that he didn't realize I was there, so I'll take his word on that. We just touched, I spun him into the front of me, and I'm not sure exactly what happened from that point. I ended up going back into his car, and there was somebody on my car. I don't think I want to repeat that.
Moderator: Tremendous year, seven wins, the championship; is it everything you were hoping for out of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series?
Mark Taylor: I was hoping for eight wins today. It was a bit disappointing the way it finished. But, the car that Panther Racing has given me deserves the championship, and it's been great the way we have done it. We have had a great year, and it's been a joy to be involved in it. It's great to be racing against these guys. It's good, fair, clean racing, and that's what I enjoy.
Moderator: We'll be joined by the runner-up in the dreamerscandles.com 100, Jeff Simmons, who was second, and Cory Witherill, who was in third place. Great race for both of you. Cory, third place finish in the race. We have got media also up in our press box, listening, so talk about the race, and it was changing moment by moment out there.
Cory Witherill: Yeah, it was a pretty exciting race. We're just kind of going hard. Everyone wants to win the last race. So, I was going hard, trying to pace myself. Last year, I finished second here, and this place, it puts out an exciting race for us, the fans and everything. I was trying to get up to the front and win. My teammate was up there, and it was just a matter of trying to hook up with him. Somehow, he lost the lead and I got up around him.
Moderator: Talk about the last lap. There was a lot going on there, Jeff.
Jeff Simmons: Yeah, basically I couldn't really hold the run. I had to run a bit taller gear than I would have wanted to, when I was in the draft behind Thiago (Medeiros) the last couple laps. And, so as soon as I pulled out, my run just died. But the whole race was kind of exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. We were trying to find places to put the car in, and everybody was trying to fit into the smallest hole, me included. I was trying to fit into a small hole and kind of make the other guy give up a little bit. I was really happy we held on to second place in the points and had a good strong run today. I'm glad that Mark and Arie are all right. I was right behind that when that happened, and the first thing I said when we came around a couple times is, "Are they both out of the car and all right?" So, I'm glad everybody is OK and that we had a good race for the fans.
Moderator: Go ahead and get an answer from each one of you on this question, and we'll start with Cory. The IndyCar Series is just really noted for it's exciting racing here in Texas, and we call this our second home here in Texas. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series racing here, do you feel like that's going to totally prepare you to step up and be ready for racing like the IndyCar Series provides here?
Cory Witherill: I think it gives you a good feel to drive in traffic. As far as the technical side, I think that we need to be on smaller tracks, so the drivers can learn how to drive like they do and get a better feel for like the handling of a car. We have raced Indy Lights and everything and the three of us here have road-racing experience. So, we know how to set up a car, where I think a lot of the guys that come from other series don't. It's a whole different feel. But, as far as the whole racing environment and as far as racing wheel to wheel, yeah, it definitely gets you familiar with what to expect when you get in a bigger car. Obviously, you're going about 35-40 mph faster.
Moderator: Mark. Get your comments. And, also, you did test an IndyCar (Series car) last week here at Texas.
Mark Taylor: Yeah, it's like he said, for me, it was good to get used to the car, but I wouldn't say that it helps a great deal with trying to set the car up. It makes you very comfortable and confident in the car. But, the cars, the Indy cars, are still the only cars out there. It's a lot different when there's only 20 cars out there.
Moderator: Jeff, talk about the series this year.
Jeff Simmons: Well like they said, it's great wheel-to-wheel racing, and it prepares us to run races like the guys in the Indy cars have been running, three-wide, four-wide, occasionally. Coming down to the last lap and trying to have a good strategy for that sort of thing. I think that the Indy car guys have a little bit of what we deal with in terms of setting up for these tracks where we're flat out all the way around. I think that they go through that a little bit, as well. And they're trying to gear the car up and some of the tracks are fairly easy for the guys in the Indy cars to run, but I think that this year, certainly, I've improved in terms of my race draft and in terms of setting up the car and getting used to these tracks. So, I think that it's a great preparation for Indy cars.
Moderator: 2004. Plans that are set, plans that would you like to see happen, Cory?
Cory Witherill: Nothing set yet. But, I got a couple things in the works. I've got to thank Ron (Hemelgarn) and his family for the whole year and everything and other great people who drive for us. Other than that, we'll see for next year.
Moderator: Mark, talk about 2004.
Mark Taylor: Well, nothing set at the moment. Just, hopefully, we'll get on the team with Panther Racing. They make a great car in the Indy series and the Infiniti Pro Series. Of course, I would like love to stay with them. Nothing set at the moment, but, hopefully, we'll get something in the pipeline, and we'll wait and see. Hopefully, I'll get to move up to the Indy cars. But, there's a long way to go before that can happen. It's the end of the season now, so I'm trying to enjoy this a bit. I'll work on next year in a couple weeks.
Jeff Simmons: Nothing set yet. Hopefully, I'm kind of waiting on what they want to do for next year. It's been a great company for me and to have sponsor like that for me, I wouldn't have been able to race if we didn't have them. So I'm hoping -- I would like to continue with them. Of course, I would like to move up to the Indy cars. It's looking like a bit of a long shot right now. But, I would happily return to the Infiniti Pro Series and try to hook up with the Indy cars the year after.
Moderator: At this time I would like to introduce the winner of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series at Texas Motor Speedway, the driver of the number 36 car, Thiago Medeiros. Thiago, your first victory, congratulations. Tell us about your ride.
Thiago Medeiros: It was an exciting race. I had a very good car. I didn't want to win the race for myself, but also for the team. I tried to run the best race I could. I had a very good car. I could run high, low, everywhere. And I thought, 'Just be patient and wait for the last lap of the race.'
Moderator: Looking at your season, it's almost like you came full circle. At the series opener, you started on the pole. In the final race of the year, you bring the car home in first place.
Thiago Medeiros: I had a great car. I was a little bit disappointed earlier in the year with the car we had, and I tried not to over-drive it. When you have a good car, you just go out there and drive it, and then you go out and look forward to the next week. This week, I had a very good car, so I was very confident. I was just trying to make the best that I could, and I did.
Moderator: Throughout the year, you've been battling at the front, race in and race out, but you never quite got a victory. Did you think it was just a matter of time until you were here in the winners circle or did you start to say, 'Gee, when is it going to fall in place for me?'
Thiago Medeiros: Well, you always try to drive good enough to win one of those races. But if you don't have the good luck like those guys had before, you know, I was just trying to find my space and never give up. Just follow my dreams.
Moderator: At this time, we would like to take questions from our media. Also, there are some writers up in the press box, as well. So let's start down here.
Q: A magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat. You pulled a flag out of your pocket--
Thiago Medeiros: I was very confident, like I told you. I always like to carry the (Brazilian) flag with me and just wait for the right moment to take that flag out of my pocket. And it was very nice for my country. I've had a very hard lifestyle, being so far away from my parents, and now I've realized my dreams. And I was just trying to give my family some hope. Just working, training, every day. I go to the workshop and try to find something new. It's hard to say in English now. It's hard to express myself right now. It's hard to explain myself at this moment.
Q: Talk to us about your season.
Thiago Medeiros: I'm not sure what I'm going to do next year, but I want to be in this series again. We tested before Homestead, but we had an accident in the third race of the season, and it was disappointing. And that's what I told you before -- when we didn't have a good car, I was just trying to bring back some points for the championship. And now I have a very good car, so we just went out there and made a little change, and it made a big difference, and it paid off. I had a very good time here all week.
Moderator: Will there be many calls back home tonight?
Thiago Medeiros: Sure. My mother just called me a little while ago, but I couldn't talk to her because I was in winner's circle. My father talked to her. My father is here. For sure, she is very proud. She's very proud, and she's very happy. And as I said, I'm very happy.
Moderator: Do we have any more questions for Thiago? Congratulations on an outstanding win.
Thiago Medeiros: Thank you, everybody. I hope to be here again next year. I made so many friends here, and hopefully, things will go better next year.
Moderator: We hope to see you. Thank you.