Thiago Medeiros earned his seventh pole this season, averaging 189.831 mph around the 2-mile California Speedway during Friday's qualifying session. After qualifying, Medeiros pulled onto the pit lane and jumped from his Sam Schmidt Motorsports ...
Thiago Medeiros earned his seventh pole this season, averaging 189.831 mph around the 2-mile California Speedway during Friday's qualifying session. After qualifying, Medeiros pulled onto the pit lane and jumped from his Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry, telling reporters that the pole, "is the best place to start the race." Medeiros earned a pole position last season, setting a record for most career poles at eight. Seven poles during a single season is also a Indy Racing League record.
Despite setting fourth fastest time in both practice sessions leading to qualifying, Medeiros' speed dropped off in the afternoon. With a lap at 190.583 mph in the first session, Medeiros' best of the second session dropped to 188.739 mph. Overall, speeds dropped in the afternoon as teams ran without the draft in preparation for qualifying. "Our car was very good this morning," said Medeiros. "We made some changes to the car for the afternoon and went the wrong way. We spent the afternoon session trying to get back to where we were in the morning. After the second practice, we went back, looked at the data and made some changes before qualifying. Those changes were very good."
Medeiros, who has scored five victories this season, will clinch the 2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series championship when he takes the green flag in Saturday's race.
Arie Luyendyk Jr. will start second with a qualifying speed of 189.459 mph, missing the pole by 0.0043 seconds. After setting the best lap in the first practice session, Luyendyk's times dropped off dramatically, and he ended the second session tenth on the speed chart. "This is a great accomplishment for the team," said Luyendyk. "We really came back after we had a practice where we really struggled. I want to thank the crew, they put together a great car for qualifying, and we'll see how tomorrow plays out."
Paul Dana, who will start third, ran consistent times through both practice sessions and qualifying, yet his best lap of the day, at 190.201 in the first practice session, placed him sixth fastest prior to qualifying. Dana complained that he "got some truck rubber on our tires and couldn't keep it out of the fence to save our life." The Hemelgarn crew made a "ton of changes, went back to square one, and nailed it," for qualifying.
Series newcomer Shinji Kashima, aka Racer Kashima, will start fourth in his first Pro Series race. Kashima improved from the first to second practice session and qualified at 188.787 mph. "I'd like to thank my team and especially Sam (Schmidt) and Roger (Yasukawa), who is spotting for me this weekend. He does a very good job. Sometimes in Japanese, sometimes in English, so I can concentrate on driving."
Jeff Simmons rounds out the top five, followed by Leonardo Maia, P.J. Chesson and Phil Giebler in eighth. Fifteen cars are entered for Saturday's race.