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Medeiros completes IPS hat-trick in Kansas

3 July 2004


Thiago Medeiros strengthened his grip on the Menards Infiniti Pro Series points race by reeling off his third straight win of the season at Kansas Speedway.

The Brazilian had to fight for his cause this weekend, with Paul Dana providing sterner opposition than of late, but Medeiros eventually claimed his prize by just over three-tenths of a second. It was a record-tying third consecutive victory for the Sam Schmidt Motorsport driver, and the second time in four races that he has won from pole position.

Medeiros led from lights to flag, taking his tally of laps led to 295 out of a possible 300 in his three victorious outings, but Dana closed remorselessly on him towards the end, benefiting from a mid-race caution to get within a couple of car lengths and never dropping much further away. At around two-thirds distance, Dana attempted the first of a series passes on the high side at turn three, and the lead pair raced side-by-side for a while, but Medeiros could not be dislodged.

"Thiago is [getting] on a roll here, and I really wanted to break it," Dana admitted, "I kind of feel like my first win is right around the corner - I really wanted it, and thought I had it there today. It just didn't carry around the whole lap, and he got back ahead.

"The car had a lot of understeer, so it was kind of moving around behind him. You're just trying for everything you can, but it just wasn't going to happen today. I actually got a run and, at one point, I was alongside Thiago in turn one and two without the benefit of the backmarkers. I got it on the outside of him, and I think that probably would have been the case there in the last two laps too, but, you know, whether or not it was ever going to stick, we'll never know now."

Despite Dana's assertions that the lead car was not suffering the same sort of handling woes as his was, Medeiros reported that he was not entirely happy with his mount.

"We didn't have the best car set-up today," the Brazilian admitted, "The wind was blowing really hard in the beginning of the race, and I felt a big push on my car. I was trying to work a lot with the rear bars and rear jack. And the truck rubber changed the balance that we thought we could run during the warm-up, so the car was moving around a lot.

"In the last ten laps, I was just trying to do my best to save the tyres because I knew my car wasn't the best one. But I think I did as good as I can get. I just tried to do my best, drive the car really smooth and give him enough room. He almost got a run on me from the outside on the back straight, between turn two and turn three, and almost overtook me, but the shortest line is the best way here."

Impressive rookie Al Unser joined the lead battle after passing the #10 car of Rolando Quintanilla on lap 39, and closed to within 0.4985secs of Medeiros by mid-distance. The 'son of Little Al' was never able to challenge for the front, but admitted that he was happy to have landed on the podium in his first outing with the Duesenberg team.

"We were running a different line through the corners so I could get enough grip and trying to make it as smooth as I could," Unser said of his pursuit, "We had a little bit of push in the car, so the smoother I could do the turns, the better we were. We weren't scrubbing any of the speed off.

"On the straightaways, I was just trying to follow where they were. They were pretty far ahead of me, probably almost the whole straightaway, at the beginning of that, but I was able to do a little bit of drafting, and that sucked me right back up to them.

"In the final ten laps, I was watching [Dana's] line through one and two because you've really got to set up your pass. He would enter low, then he would end up high. So I was entering high and ending up low. However, as we crossed air, or as I got under his air, it would really upset my car, get a big push, and I'd have to get out of it.

"On one lap, I just set him up perfect, kind of guessing that he was going to do that same strategy, and was able to just enter high, just give it a little bit of lift as I crossed his air, then got back on it as I got down on the inside. That gave me a big shot down the back straightaway. Then we popped underneath him. I still had a car length but, right before the turn, he just gave a little wiggle. We ended up going under the white line a little bit. He apologised to me after the race, saying that he didn't see me, and we were able to bring the car home."

Quintanilla and Brad Pollard, now with the Schmidt squad, rounded out the top five, as regular Medeiros colleague Arie Luyendyk suffered a poor race, coming in a lapped seventh.

Rookie PJ Chesson - who, like Unser, was making his debut in the series - was running sixth under a yellow flag but spun on the backstraight at the restart and made light contact with the wall. Although he made it back to the pits, bent suspension ended his day.

With just ten cars in the field, however, the early exit dropped Chesson to just eighth, behind a subdued Jesse Mason and Luyendyk, and ahead of veteran Billy Roe and rookie Leo Maia, who both made contact with the wall.

"I just screwed up trying to heat the rear tyres," the reigning Barber Dodge champion said of a similar incident on the warm-up lap, "I just got a little bit sideways, spun it, looked like an idiot on national TV!

"After that, I came up from the back and made up five spots in a lap. But, as the laps went by, it seemed that my car just got worse and worse. It was understeering in places, oversteering in places, but the funny thing was that it felt rather stable in three and four - until it got really loose there, which is what caught me out."


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