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Infiniti Pro Series: Gateway 100

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Gateway 100

Infiniti Pro Series: Gateway 100

Keith Duesenberg
Arie Luyendyk, Jr.
Jeff Simmons
Cory Witherill
August 9, 2003


THE MODERATOR: We have our runner-up and third place drivers. Couple notes here. Arie Luyendyk, third Top 5 finish this season, fifth Top 10 finish this season, and certainly one of the more eventful days.

ARIE LUYENDYK, JR.: Definitely.

THE MODERATOR: You have to feel pretty good sitting where you are right now after what happened this morning in warm-up.

ARIE LUYENDYK, JR.: Yeah. And yesterday wasn't a great day either. We were last on the time sheets in the first session, then we moved up to 10th, ended up qualifying seventh. So we were a bit behind everybody. We didn't test here and that was really a disadvantage for me. It felt good to start the race in seventh and come out third because we had a great car on the long runs, but in traffic it was a little bit of a handful. You know, we didn't have much luck this morning with the crash, and luck turned around for the race, I guess.

THE MODERATOR: And our runner-up today, Cory Witherill, started sixth, finished second. Fifth Top 10 finish of the season. Good day all in all, isn't it, Cory?

CORY WITHERILL: Pretty much a pretty good weekend. At least came here with a brand-new car. After the crash last weekend in Michigan, we pretty much destroyed that car. This week we were still putting it together when we first showed up here. It's just a matter of getting comfortable with the new car, making sure the brakes and everything were set in. I wasn't really a hundred percent confident with the car, but I knew the crew could do an awesome job of putting it together. So I just kind of believed that everything was going to be perfect, but still I had little thing in the back of me saying, "Be a little cautious." So that's what we were all weekend. It just started coming around this morning in warm-up session, we were fourth quickest. Then during the race, I knew we were going to have a fast car, a potential car to win. And, I mean, during the race, you know, figure we probably would have been fourth or better. But obviously there was a crash at the end there and we took second place. Can't argue with that, especially with the year, we've been kind of struggling to get the good luck and the good finishing position. I guess this is kind of a payback.

THE MODERATOR: Let's open the floor to questions.

Q. Cory, you were destined to finish fourth. Ended up second. You have to be pretty happy?

ARIE LUYENDYK, JR.: I'm real excited on that. Like I said, last year we had all the luck we could. Despite two engine failures last year, I finished on the podium every race. This year we were always up there in front, the top three, or even leading. Didn't have luck to be up there in front. This is kind of I guess a lucky second place I got. So kind of the luck's coming back now.

Q. Arie, take us through the process, as you're putting the car back together. What happened on the warm-up lap, part of a four-car melee, and putting the car back together.

ARIE LUYENDYK,JR.: Well, Thiago and I, I was using him to see what the car was like in traffic. We came through turn three, and as we were entering turn four, I got a call on the radio from my spotter saying that there was a yellow, car high, so go low. But he said it a little too late. It was a little bit of a late warning because Moses spun, and Tom collected with Moses, then Gary went into the wall at the same time. So when I came through there, there was just debris everywhere. Actually a piece of debris got caught underneath the car at the same time I was braking, which sent it into a spin. Thiago actually made it through, was ahead of me. But if I didn't hit that piece of debris, I probably would have made it through, too. So it was an unlucky, unfortunate accident. The crew was able to do a great job in putting the car back together. We got a little help from Brian Stewart Racing with a rear wing assembly. The car was right on time. We rolled up right before the race and I had enough confidence in the guys knowing that the car would be good. The car was actually great in the long run.

Q. It's been obviously a very dominating season by the Panther team and by Mark. To get a day like this, for both of you, a lot of the drivers in the garage, it's like "Yeah, here we are all, too"?

CORY WITHERILL: Yeah, you know, today is. But also this is one track, it comes to handling, comes to driver skill and team knowledge. The ones that are on top of it, the drivers that are on top of it, they're going to shine the most here. All the other tracks you're competing at, we're flat all the way around. Anyone here could hop in one of these cars and go flat all the way around a two-mile oval. When you come to a track like this, Phoenix, Homestead, where you have to set the car up, that's where it's going to show the talent, the team and the driver. Here, we were quick and everything. I have a lot of experience at this track, racing Indy Light cars, a bunch of other stuff in the past.

Q. Arie?

ARIE LUYENDYK, JR.: Everyone, especially for the championship, it was a break to have Mark Taylor go out. But when you look at our points system, it's actually kind of a disappointment because there's only 12 cars in the field. So when someone falls out, he finishes 10th, it's kind of like you don't make up any ground unless you're winning every race. The points system, it's hard to make up ground, but then again it's hard to, you know, run away from everybody, as well. But Mark has done a great job this year winning I think four or five races. It's just hard to catch someone who is able to test everywhere and has an unlimited amount of money to deal with. For the smaller teams, especially for our team, it's very hard because we couldn't come and test here because of our crash in Michigan, and then you're just one step behind. So it was a relief that Mark fell out just for the points system. But, then again, you never like to see anyone fall out of a race.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We welcome to the podium Jeff Simmons, the Gateway 100 winner, his team owner Keith Duesenberg. Jeff, you had a day, and the last time you were here your day ended early. You started well, qualified third, went out about 25 laps to go. Today a little better.

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah. Back in 2000 running Indy Lights, we qualified third, were running second. I was actually lapping my teammate, and just lost it in turn three. I guess this track kind of owed me one. It was great that it happened today, and with Western Union behind us. We had a lot of people from Western Union today supporting us. It was just a great day. I was so happy when I saw those guys touch. I knew something was going to happen there, whether or not it was going to be a pass or they were going to dice a little bit. I saw Mark get high. I was just hoping that we would be able to come out of it better.

THE MODERATOR: This is your sixth Top 5 finish in the last seven races. You started in the Top 5 every race this season, but this is the first time to Victory Circle.

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah. I mean, you know, we've been in position to win several times. It just seems like things didn't quite go right for us. Little things sometimes, like a wire in Kansas, when we were running in about third place or so. You know, I made a mistake in Homestead when we were leading. That took us out of one. Other than that, you know, I mean, we really could have finished on the podium, you know, every race. It's just been little things here and there that have been holding us back. his is kind of great that we got it today. It's almost sort of fitting that it was -- that it happened so late and that two guys came together for us to get that win.

THE MODERATOR: Since you had the front row seat, take us through that.

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, I saw Mark got held up in the traffic, and I figured he was, you know -- he would be all right anyway if he just took his time. Looks like he just pushed high in one and two, basically in the middle of one and two. As he came back down, Brandon had a pretty good run on him. Looked like Mark tried to throw a little bit of a block on him coming out of two, and Brandon chose the high side to try to go around him. I think Mark kind of started to move up a little bit, and they came together. It was just a bunch of smoke. I slowed down right away to try to figure out which way the cars were going to go. I saw them separating. So I just shot through the middle before the hole closed. We made it through clean.

THE MODERATOR: Were you afraid when you slowed that somebody might find your backside?

JEFF SIMMONS: I knew we had a pretty good gap, I thought, to I think Cory was running fourth. You know, I checked my mirrors several times. I check my mirrors every lap. I knew we had quite a bit of distance to him.

THE MODERATOR: Keith Duesenberg, your reactions on the day.

KEITH DUESENBERG: I guess the first one is, "Wow!" Great day. Really interesting weekend. When we got here, Jeff was sicker than a dog, to be quite honest with you. He's been sitting in the lounge. We even called a friend of mine, a doctor, to find out what could be done. A lot of fluids, a lot of interesting foods to get him back in there. Every time we put the belts on, tight on him, there was a little pain. But as a great athlete, you know, you persevere. You know, Jeff did a great job. We were proud of him. Western Union team was just totally proud of the whole effort. My thoughts were it was a rough weekend. I guess it was a fitting finish because of some of the problems we had. But I'm proud of Jeff. I'm proud of the team.


Q. The injury or illness that you had to go through this week, Jeff, what was it?

JEFF SIMMONS: I'm not sure exactly what it is actually. I thought it was the flu earlier in the week because on Wednesday I had about 103 degree temperature. But the temperature went away fairly quickly and was pretty much totally gone by Friday. But I've had pretty intense abdominal cramping. I think it's some sort of intestinal virus or maybe I got some sort of food poisoning, I'm not sure. But I've just been pretty sick. I've just been really taking it pretty easy this week. I haven't done anything but trying to drink fluids all day long.

KEITH DUESENBERG: I might add that Jeff's birthday was Tuesday, so maybe he had a bit of celebration that he's actually holding back on telling us.

THE MODERATOR: How old are we now?

JEFF SIMMONS: Are you really going to make me say? 27.

Q. What did they make you eat?

KEITH DUESENBERG: You know what, actually the doctor said drink not only water but Gatorade, Powerade, but also, believe it or not, potato chips. My guess would be to keep the fluids in him because, you know, the salt, keep the fluids in.

JEFF SIMMONS: Otherwise they just run right out (laughter).

KEITH DUESENBERG: Jeff won't eat any of that stuff. We're trying to tell him to eat potato chips. "Yeah, right."

Q. You've been consistent but under the radar all season. Do you feel this is the breakout, now you can go forward?

JEFF SIMMONS: I mean, I think that people that really, really know the series well, you know, are certainly aware that our team has been really a threat every single weekend. But certainly, yeah, I mean, I hope this is a breakout race and I hope we can string a few wins together now. That coupled with some misfortune for Taylor in a few other races could bring us right back up there. It's not over yet. We're not going to look at it like it's over till it is. Hopefully, you know, the magnificent fashion in which we got the monkey off our back will really propel us forward.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations.



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