21 March 2004
Medeiros laps up Phoenix 100 victory.
Thiago Medeiros was the class of the field in qualifying for round two of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, and carried that form into the Phoenix 100 as he lapped the entire field on his way to a crushing victory.
Denied an opening round win by Phil Giebler's charge from the back at Homestead, the Brazilian was never headed as he romped to a convincing victory - and the points lead - at Phoenix International Raceway. The Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver headed team-mate Arie Luyendyk and impressive rookie Leo Maia across the line, becoming the fourth driver in series history to lead every lap, and securing the first team 1-2.
“After Homestead, I said that I wanted to win at Phoenix and lap the field,” Medeiros told indyracing.com, “It was a joke between me and my manager, but fortunately it came true. The car was awesome for the whole race. As soon as I started, I knew I could stay at the front because it's a very tough track and it's hard to overtake.”
Luyendyk started second for the second consecutive race but had no answer to his team-mate as his Sam Schmidt Dallara proved a handful on the tight confines of the Phoenix track.
“Right from the very first lap, I knew I didn't have the car to beat Thiago,” Luyendyk said, “I knew it was going to be a handful so I was just trying to conserve my tires and wait for a yellow, but it never came.”
Having taken third in the opening race with rookie Jesse Mason, Brian Stewart Racing repeated the feat in Phoenix, this time with first-time racer Maia following the Schmidt twins across the line. Mason backed up his strong Homestead showing by claiming fourth spot.
“I couldn't believe the way they were racing,” said Stewart, who watched as his two charges went head-to-head for the podium finish,. “I told them I'd be choked if they crashed into one another in the first five laps, but said that, with ten to go, they could go for it.''
“I'm sure we gave Brian a little bit of a heart attack,” Maia grinned, “I just wanted to learn as much as I possibly could but, in the end, my car just started to go away. I could see that some of the guys in front of me were having problems, so I just stuck behind them and tried not to make any mistakes. They were on edge already. They pushed it a little bit, went wide, I was sort of able to duck down underneath. Luckily, I finished third."
Behind Mason, Homestead polewinner Paul Dana claimed fifth spot, with round one winner Giebler down in seventh, behind Roquin Motorsport's Rolando Quintanilla. Veteran Billy Roe, making a racing return with Kenn Hardley Racing, dropped from his second row grid position to be classified ninth in the twelve-car field.
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