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Infiniti Pro Series: Futaba Freedom 100

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Futaba Freedom 100

Infiniti Pro Series: Futaba Freedom 100

Thiago Medeiros
Sam Schmidt
May 22, 2004


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

THE MODERATOR: Victory lane, it looked like you were a pretty excited winner. Congratulations. Talk about those first couple of laps with Jeff Simmons.

THIAGO MEDEIROS: It was a very good start. He knew he took advantage from the start because he needed to have a very long straightaway and it was very windy, as well, at the same time. He overtook me in the start because we had a very strong straight way and we did not have enough horsepower to pull out, and we had a very hard and clear run, because we touch the wheels in the exit of Turn 2 in the first lap, and Jeff is one guy that I have a lot of confidence to run side by side. I mean, he did a wonderful job. We had a very hard fight for first place. But I knew that my car was handling very good. We made some changes before the race we put a bit more downforce in the car because we saw the wind conditions was completely different than we saw yesterday. I mean, I knew that if I start to work in the car during the race, I could overtake him again and that's what we did. I just took advantage when he give me enough room and overtook him and take the car around today at the end of the race.

THE MODERATOR: Arie and Jeff both mentioned how difficult it was to go flat around the course, various places with the wind, oil dried caused some problems. And I picked up from their description of the race, they thought that perhaps you were able to stay a little bit more flat totally around the course. Talk about it from your perspective.

THIAGO MEDEIROS: It's hard to say. I have not only the first time that I heard that I have a very good car control, I know that I have and I just took advantage from that, and when I was behind Simmons I couldn't keep my car really behind him. I just take my time and studying whether I was quicker than him to take advantage and trying to overtake him. He made a mistake and gave me enough room. When I was running behind him, the weather conditions was really hard. The car was pushing 1 and 2 and losing 3 and 4. But I knew that we had to have a very good car, and I start to make some changes in the rear bottom and the weight jacket (ph), just to see how the car feels after those changes, and the car was feeling really good, and I just overdrove the car a little bit, trying to -- when I was really behind him trying to overtake him. I could overtake him and then just go back, drive the car around and make a better balance to the end of the race.

THE MODERATOR: A good day for Sam Schmidt Motor Sports. Sam, you've etched your name as a winning car here at Indy Motor Speedway.

SAM SCHMIDT: Thank you. Those last five laps were pretty emotional, and I saw the yellow come out, I pretty much knew we had it. All I ever wanted to do since I was five years old was come to this place and Rick Mears was my hero, and I would love to be setting where he is, but this is kind of the second best thing. You know, after everything me and my family have been through for the last five years, this is pretty special.

THE MODERATOR: Sure it is, and it's special for all of us. When you won in Las Vegas, you knew that you had the tools to be that variety of winners circles. Talk about this guy. Obviously, you have to two good drivers. Thiago has been coming on really strong, he came to us with good credentials and looks like he has the right stuff.

SAM SCHMIDT: Yeah, you not only look at your own situation every year, but you look at everybody else's, your competitors and different things and I knew in his situation last year that the guy could come out here and win a lot of races and win the championship. So, you know we started talking at the end of last year and we were able to put something together in January. But it's fantastic for our team. We've also, you know, grown our team, and I think the team has elevated, as has Thiago, our games, to where we just -- just really proud of the guys. We knew that after Phoenix, everybody else was going to try and win this race really, really hard and A.J., pulling his secret weapon out of the garage one more time, we knew that would be the stiffest competition possible for a long race. But, you know, the guys just worked -- they didn't take a vacation last six weeks. They have been working on that car, and Arie's car. 1-2 would have been nice, but I'm not greedy.

THIAGO MEDEIROS: I learn one thing that those guys made me look good here today, great to be honest. I wasn't anything without them. So I'm just very pleased with all the team has done for me, and they are just very focused on our car and our job, we try to do the best we can be and find something together to go to IRL.

Q. Is there some secret that Brazilians have to coming here?

THIAGO MEDEIROS: In Brazil, as I told you before, I mean, it's kind of feeling like you don't have much choice, either you are a good soccer player or a race car driver; so I wasn't a good player. (Laughter).

Q. I understand for Sam there's no Firestone label left on that left rear tire, can you talk about getting that close to Jeff and you guys trading a little?

THIAGO MEDEIROS: We touched a little on the first lap. Jeff is one guy that I met him last year, and we made a lot of runs together last year when he finished in second and I finished in fourth the championship. He's one guy who is very experienced and he knows how to push -- he knows how far he can push the car and it doesn't overdrive the car. He knows his limits. We have a lot of confidence running side by side. I think that he will say the same about me. But, you know, we are here to racing, and let's go racing hard and that's what happened. We had a lot of confidence. We just touch the wheels, but the one thing that happens in auto racing.

Q. Watching your laps, you were running consistently faster, and then the lead kept widening and widening and widening and it seemed like you got stronger, I think it was like 4.3 seconds, 4.5 seconds at some point, without the yellows, do you think you could have kept pulling away and your car was that much stronger?

THIAGO MEDEIROS: We had our doubt over the weekend here because we didn't really know how the weather conditions are going to be this morning. That's what I thought that it running through our mind this weekend because the weather conditions here has changed so fast. And we were thinking about the choice that we had from the previous years that we had for the start of the race time. I think that we made the right choice. The gears were perfect. When I was running behind Jeff, I mean, I did not have a taller gear, but I think it was a top speed that we could get here, and not only by myself, but when drafting the other cars, as well. I think we did the right choice. I could get away, I mean, I was pushing hard all the time to be very consistent and very concentrated in my job at the same time, because when things start getting easy, it's easy to lose your concentration here, and trying to drive to the limit of the car and every time pushing hard, that's what I did.

Q. How different is it this track from anywhere else? In Phoenix, you lapped the entire field, but this place is different, every turn is different, every time you go around the track, it changes. Was it hard to keep up with or were you able to obviously handle it?

THIAGO MEDEIROS: I mean, okay, let's talk about the race in two different parts. So the first part, the middle of the race, when I was running behind Jeff and I had to make some changes, my car was really, really losing behind Jeff because I made a lot of change to keep my car behind him without following. I did not have enough downforce to keep my car low and trying to get a run on him. And, I mean, the weather was blowing sideways in 1 and 2 and I was really, really losing, especially behind him, because we got some back winds and some side winds. So the car was like, ooohh -- I mean, I drove the car to the limit. I like to be on the edge, it doesn't matter, the car has two, three, four wheels, I like to drive the car. After I overtook him, I made some changes, go back to the restart with the change I made, and I was pretty confident and the car had a very good balance to the end of the race.

Q. Were you sure the last 10, 15 laps that nobody could probably take you?

THIAGO MEDEIROS: I mean, it's hard to say that. That's one of the reasons I did not celebrate the race till I crossed the finish line. (Laughing) Especially here Indy, I saw many videotapes about the race before I came here. I think that videotape gives me a lot of help. The videotapes is the only thing that really showed me, especially the point that I really learned how those guys drive and saw so many close finishes here in Indy, that was one of the reasons I did not celebrate the race until crossing the brickyards. Everything could be possible, you never know. Some mechanical problem, you never know.

Q. Did you get fined for speeding on pit road coming in after the victory? You locked him up a couple of times.

THIAGO MEDEIROS: We were running with our first gear to have a more -- a better -- I mean, we don't have to use the first gear in here on the big tracks, especially like this. We didn't have enough horsepower to make like a -- leave my marks here on the Indy track. So, let's lock the breaks and this is my point.

THE MODERATOR: Well, I don't know if we've had a happier winner, so congratulations.

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