Indy Racing League Teleconference Oct. 5, 2004 Thiago Medeiros MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to this week's Indy Racing League weekly teleconference. This past weekend, the Indy Racing League crowned champions in both the Menards Infiniti Pro...
Indy Racing League Teleconference
Oct. 5, 2004
MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to this week's Indy Racing League weekly teleconference. This past weekend, the Indy Racing League crowned champions in both the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and the IndyCar® Series. Our guests today will reflect on both of those championships.
With us right now is Thiago Medeiros, the 2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion. In 11 races this season, Thiago has recorded five wins and a series-record seven poles, and at one point earlier in the season, he set a league record with four consecutive victories.
Thiago, thank you for joining us today.
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Nice for you to give me the opportunity.
Q: First of all, congratulations on the championship. I know it was your goal really the whole season to win the championship. What does it mean to you now that you've had a couple days to realize you've achieved that goal?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: It means a lot for me. I think now I'm ready to move up to the (IndyCar Series) next year. I know I have been congratulated by all my friends and everybody I know in the motor racing world. The team has worked hard for me, and we got the best results together.
Q: Did you have any type of special celebrating to do over the weekend once you clinched the title?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Not yet. The end of the race was kind of sad for us. We didn't have enough time to celebrate. We're going to celebrate for sure after Texas.
Q: You mentioned the end of the race. For anybody that saw the race, it was kind of a frightening crash. But you walked away unscathed. Everything is OK?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Yes, I'm fine. It was just sad to finish that way, but I couldn't walk away from the car (on my own). The (Delphi Safety Team) gave me a big help. But I was totally OK. Then I just went to the (infield) medical center basically to check if I was OK. But nothing happened. I'm glad I came out of that accident safe and without injuries.
Q: We've had 11 races. You've won five of those, started from the pole seven times. Obviously very strong, very dominating season. Is there one thing that stands out to you as the top memory for you from the season?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: I remember when I was leading Milwaukee. I almost lapped the field again like I did in Phoenix. The front-wheel bearing went away, and then I had some other problems like Miami and Michigan, some tires problem. I keep thinking about doing well. We have championships, have a big advantage, but our results as the team, keep us motivated for the next one. Could have been better for us, but there is no "if" in the motor racing world. You just have to think forward and go to the next one.
Q: Speaking of the next one, the last race of the season is at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16. That is where you got your first win last year in your rookie season. That has to hold a special place for you. Tell us a little about your thoughts about Texas and the final race of the year.
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Well, for sure, I have really good memories from Texas Motor Speedway. It is a really nice track that allow us to run nose to tail - really close pack of cars. Two- or three-wide, there is no problem at all to do that at that track because the asphalt and the grip level overall, it's really good. Just a special place where I got my first win in the series. So for sure, I will be hunting to keep my title and let nobody win this race because is a special place for me.
Q: You talked a little bit about your hopes to move up to the IndyCar Series in 2005. The first two champions in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, A.J. Foyt IV and Mark Taylor, have gone on and are full-time drivers in the IndyCar Series. How are things going for you right now in your quest to find a ride for next year?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: We know that my manager, Fernando (Avallone), is working on ways to move up to (the IndyCar Series). I mean, we're trying to find some other tests to have more seat-time and get more experience in the (IndyCar Series) car, then we'll be better. I just had one test in (IndyCar Series) car, so there's not enough (seat)-time.
So we're trying to find some other tests where we can play with the setup a little bit and learn a little bit more about the car, then (the transition) will be easier. But we're trying to do our best. I think the best thing we can do right now is keep winning. I think we'll be in good shape to move up to IndyCar (Series) next year.
Q: How do you feel about coming up next year on road circuits?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: That's my background. I grew up on road courses, then I moved to the U.S. I learned about oval racing for two years. For sure, I wanted to go back to my background. I started to race when I was eight years old in go-karts, then I moved to open-wheel series. I drove Formula Vauxhall in Brazil, they call it Formula Chevrolet. Then, I did three years in the Formula 3 South American championship. So for sure, I was successful enough to move up to the next level here in the Infiniti Pro Series. I'm looking forward to go back to my background in the IRL series.
Q: Is it hard for a driver to go from an oval to a road course or does that create problems for you?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: I don't think that will be a problem for me because that's my background, that's what I came from. But the most important thing was in the past, I learned how to drive the car on my limit, not on the car's limit, not over-driving the car. It was a really important thing for me because in oval-racing, things start to happen a lot faster. When the driver's not confident 100 percent in himself to drive the car, it's quite a bit easy to make mistakes, then you become a passenger, there is no chance, you just hit the wall. That's how it is. Sometimes the driver is not comfortable with the car in the oval track, he's allowed to do that in the road course track.
Q: It looked like toward the end of the season, you've gotten a lot more competition than you had at the start of the year. Can you talk about the growth of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: I think everybody has learned a lot more about the car and is getting more competitive every time. Not only the drivers start to have more confidence in each other to run side-by-side, but other teams have learned a lot about the cars, and everybody is getting closer and closer because we are on the edge, for sure.
I mean, that's what this series is all about, you know, close racing, really competitive, so sometimes when you're not 100 percent, somebody else is doing that. Sometimes just a little bit about luck, as well.
Q: As we saw last weekend by the accidents there. Everybody is trying really, really hard, aren't they?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Yeah. The end of the race, nobody was giving anyone enough room. I just feel bad to finish that way, but I'm glad with the championship, but I wanted to win that race, too.
Q: If you don't find an IndyCar Series ride will you return in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series next year?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: I'm not thinking about that right now. But it's just hard because if I keep winning in the Pro Series, there's nothing special with that. It's just about the risk, if I lose. Like, oh, he has been beaten by somebody else. So we are still thinking about that. Definitely that's not my idea. I'm 22 years old. I still have a lot of time, but I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm just thinking to move up to the IndyCar Series right now.
Q: You'll have to get (team owner) Sam (Schmidt) to get back in the (IndyCar Series). Last teleconference, he said he was going to stay with Menards Infiniti Pro Series, but you're going to have to convince him to go back over to the IndyCar Series for you. Again, congratulations.
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Thank you.
Q: I was going to point out that the first two Menards Infiniti Pro Series champions haven't had that much success in the IndyCar Series. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to stay back, but you seem convinced that you need to move on. The fact that the other two guys haven't had much success, does that discourage you at all?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Everybody has a different situation. The (IndyCar Series) has a different package that you can run, not only about chassis, but engine as well, different combinations. Maybe we would be better, maybe not.
It's just hard to say. You know, that's how things go. There may be some other teams that have more money to develop, there are other teams that don't have the money to develop the equipment. You are restricted about some other stuff.
I mean, I know how good I am, and I know I have the talent, for sure. I don't think I have to show nothing else, nobody else. I mean, it still give me a chance, for sure, I will be doing my best to get the ride. We're working some other stuff to put some money together and bring a little bit more because the exchange is pretty hard to bring money from Brazil, because the exchange is three for one right now. It's hard to get sponsors down there.
Q: Is your agent talking to anybody right now in the IndyCar Series, serious talks with anyone?
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Yeah, we are talking to different teams and we are trying to find some other tests to have more experience in playing a little bit with the car and the setups. That way I won't have only one test, but will be some other tests that we can talk about and then say that I learned a lot about the setups, and then I played one day for the whole day with different setups, different combinations. That will be a lot better for me, and as well give me a lot more confidence. Then I will learn more about the IndyCar Series cars because they're kind of be similar. But for sure, it is completely different when you are running in a big pack of cars.
MODERATOR: Thiago, congratulations again to you. Thanks for joining us today. We'll see you down at Texas Motor Speedway.
THIAGO MEDEIROS: Thank you very much.