MEDEIROS WINS FIFTH RACE, MOVES CLOSER TO TITLE

Share:
By Dave Lewandowski
indyracing.com

Thiago Medeiros dominated the Chicagoland 100 on Sept. 11, but he wasn?t able to celebrate a Menards Infiniti Pro Series? championship just yet.

Those party invitations will be prepared for California Speedway on Oct. 2.

Chicagoland 100 Information

Medeiros, starting from the pole position in the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, beat Jeff Simmons to the finish line by .0586 of a second to claim his fifth victory of the season.

Al Unser was third and Arie Luyendyk Jr. fourth. Brothers P.J. and James Chesson finished fifth and sixth, respectively. P.J. Chesson had won the previous three races.

Medeiros, who started his sixth race from the pole position, has a 105-point lead over Paul Dana with two races remaining.

?The team gave me the best car out today,? Medeiros said. ?We had the best car out yesterday, too (in winning his sixth pole of the season). We were quick in qualifying, we put everything together and it worked.

?I was just trying to make some changes in my line, and nobody could go around me. I?m really happy to get 52 points more for the championship.?

Though he led every lap, Medeiros was pressured throughout by an assortment of drivers that at one time or another included teammate and front-row starter Travis Gregg, Simmons, Luyendyk and Unser. On Lap 40, the top five cars were separated by .4244 of a second.

With 10 laps remaining, Medeiros led Simmons by .0716 of a second. A pack of five cars remained within .3500 of a second of each other on the white flag lap. Simmons attempted to dart around Medeiros? right side, but didn?t have enough momentum to complete the pass.

?I knew that some other guys could be working together trying to make a move on the last lap,? Medeiros said. ?I just made sure that I had a good (Lap 54) re-start, and then I was taking my time because I knew that everybody would be waiting for the last laps, trying to do something.?

Simmons, who was runner-up in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series championship in 2003 and second to Medeiros in the Futaba Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, said his car was unable to pick up speed out of the draft.

?We had a good race car; we?re just lacking that top speed when we pull out,? said Simmons, who was competing in his third race this season. ?We lose all our speed and the guys pull away from us.

?That?s why I didn?t even try to make a move on that last restart because I knew if I was all alone, guys were just going to drive right by me. I thought I?d just try and make a move on that last lap in (Turns) 3 and 4. Thiago got a little loose because I got so close to him. We started eight and finished second, so it was a good run.?

Unser, who started fifth, picked up his fourth third-place finish in seven Menards Infiniti Pro Series races. He also was saddled with a car that didn?t like the clean air.

?We were struggling for the top speed, but we knew we had it in traffic,? he said. ?I think a lot of the guys had the same thing, including P.J. and everybody else who moved up toward the front.

?I strategized my race. In the beginning, I just wanted to get to the front. I was able to get by Travis and move into second. But then the first restart I kind of thought, unlike Jeff here with the experience, I thought I could maybe get him on the restart. We were able to get up alongside him, but it didn?t pull off. Jeff was able to get up underneath me.

?I had Arie breathing down my neck, and I was breathing down his neck. It?s just so much fun when you finish so close.?

Luyendyk has finished fourth, fifth and fourth since getting behind the wheel of the No. 25 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. entry.

?We?ve finished fourth, fifth and fourth, so w

e have good consistency,? he said. ?Every weekend we?re getting stronger.?

P.J. Chesson, as has been his style, took the high line in moving from his 14th starting position to fourth on Lap 24. He remained in the pace-setting pack for much of the remainder of the race.

?That was one of the more frustrating races I?ve ever run,? said Chesson, a veteran of seven Menards Infiniti Pro Series races in the No. 76 Mo Nunn Racing entry. ?We had a decent car, but I was never able to get a good run on the outside because everyone was playing follow the leader.

?I tried to work with James on the high line and he was a big help. He provided me with opportunity after opportunity, but I was just never able to make a run for the lead. I?m looking forward to racing on the two-mile superspeedway in Fontana (Calif.) in a couple weeks. We obviously had a lot of success at Michigan, and they are pretty identical.?

His brother was making his Menards Infiniti Pro Series debut in the No. 67 Mo Nunn Racing entry.

?We had a very good car today; one that was probably better than our sixth-place finish,? he said. ?I can?t thank P.J. and the crew enough for all of their help. The Pioneer car was very stable out there in traffic. Overall, I?m really pleased with the weekend. It was a great experience, and I continue to learn more and more with each lap.?

There were two caution periods, including one that involved the No. 92 entry driven by Cory Witherill making contact with the Turn 1 wall on Lap 44. He was checked in the infield care center and released.

Gregg, making his second Menards Infiniti Pro Series start, had the fastest race lap at 193.248 mph. Gregg, who won the pole in his debut at Kentucky Speedway last month in the No. 5 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry, spun coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 24. He rejoined the race after a quick check of his tires and recorded the field-best speed on Lap 57.

?It?s disappointing, but we were able to get some good experience today for (the season-ending race at) Texas,? Gregg said.

Chicagoland Speedway
500 Speedway Blvd, Joliet, Illinois 60433 Tickets & Information Call 888.629.RACE (7223)

© 2018 Chicagoland Speedway

FacebookTwitterLinkedInDiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnorati

ISC Track Sites