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Infiniti Pro Series: Chicagoland 100

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Chicagoland 100

Infiniti Pro Series: Chicagoland 100

Jeff Simmons
Mark Taylor
September 6, 2003


JOLIET, ILLINOIS

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by third-place finisher Jeff Simmons. Second-place finisher Ed Carpenter will not be joining us because he's preparing for IndyCar Series qualifying. Jeff, if you would, tell us about the race.

JEFF SIMMONS: Well, it was a tough race really just to get up to the front there. Then I got into third place, and Mark and Ed were really working together somewhat, just staying together, staying tucked in line. It made it really basically impossible for me to get by them. If Mark didn't have it in front of them, I think I probably could have got by. But it's just too hard for one car to pass two here. He did basically what I was doing in Michigan when I was driving in second place, I was just kind of trying to control the race from there. If you do it right and can stay close enough to the guy in front, there's no way really anybody can get by.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. How frustrating is that?

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, it was frustrating. Especially a couple of times I had decent runs and kind of got a little bit inside of Mark. He was able to kind of just push me down a little bit. I'd have to back out of it by the time we got down to the other end of the straightaway. It was kind of unfortunate. But, you know, I'm happy for everybody at Western Union. I mean, we got another podium here. We've had a pretty strong year. We are still second in the points. Lost a few points to Ed Carpenter, but we still have a fairly good hold on second. We're going to look to secure that now in the next race.

Q. Do you still think you have a chance to win the championship?

JEFF SIMMONS: That's really tough to say. I think he's got about a 70-point lead now. I mean, even when he didn't start at Kentucky, he still got 16 points or something like that, and I got 50 something for the win. He'd have to not show up at one of the races or something (laughter), then we'd have a chance. Other than that, it's probably not possible. But, you know, we're still going to fight for it. We're still going to fight for wins. That's what we're here to do.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jeff. We'll be joined by Mark Taylor as soon as we're done with Victory Lane. We're joined by Chicagoland 100 race winner Mark Taylor. Mark won the closest race in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history. It's his sixth win of the season, a Pro Series record. It was just told to me that over the course of the two years of the league's history, Mark has won 35% of the races. If we had batting averages like that in baseball, we'd have some great guaranteed contracts. Mark, tell us about the race.

MARK TAYLOR: A great race. I had a very quick car. Panther gave me a car just as fast if not quicker, so we were able to run alongside him most of the race, run behind him, put it anywhere I wanted to. Panther Racing, it's down to them. As always, they give me a great car, give me the confidence to do it. Very enjoyable race. It was all just a waiting game really till the last lap shoots out. Once that yellow come out, it had been a shoots out for five laps or so. But with that yellow, just gave us a lap, probably give me the advantage over Ed because I'm able to get a slight tow going through one and two, and carry it through three and four while we're still accelerating to the line.

THE MODERATOR: You and Ed were having your battle there with Jeff right behind you on the tail. Can you talk about that a little bit.

MARK TAYLOR: Yeah, it was a matter of time before Jeff got involved. He had a problem in qualifying, but he's had a very quick car through this weekend and through the season. So it was just a case of once he got behind Ed, I knew I had to sit behind Ed, and that was the only way I'd be able to hold on to that position and be in a position to win it at the end. With that yellow coming out, it cost Jeff a bit. He tried to run on the outside going through one and two on the restart, but he wasn't able to hold it. He just gave me enough room to be able to go on the outside through three and four and get that run.

THE MODERATOR: You're up there racing up front, fairly comfortable lead in the points chase right now. Still going out there pretty aggressively.

MARK TAYLOR: I mean, we've had two bad races, due to no fault of our own. Things like that happen in a season. That's the reason why it's been good to have such a great season, because we had that cushion, as it were. Coming into this race, it was the time[] where if we won it, we could secure the championship. We almost have now. But it's very important to move on and continue to try and win races. That's what I'm out there to do. I'm trying to impress IndyCar teams. That's where I want to be next year. I think the best way to do that is put on races like that with Ed where every lap counts, and it's very close.

Q. You're in the catbird seat as far as the Panther team, having them preparing the cars. Where do you feel you sit in the chase for this year?

MARK TAYLOR: Well, the Pennzoil Panther seat, as far as #4 is concerned, it's going to be a very important seat for everybody. Panther have shown that they can set up a great car for anybody. Now with Sam moving on, I feel, as everyone has probably heard, they're going to test a number of drivers. I'll be given an opportunity, like everybody else will. I'm sure if I show that I'm quick enough to be in that seat, they'll give me the opportunity as much as they will anybody else.

 

Q. (Inaudible)?

MARK TAYLOR: I've only been oval racing this year. I think only oval racing has this type of racing, this close racing at a finish. I can't remember racing like this, apart from Kansas, which was this year. The typical type of racing that I have had is where the there's a guy out in front, you try to get past him. Once you get past him, that's it, you've won the race. That's not quite like it here. You have to time it, and it's a lot harder to overtake, as well.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Mark.

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