IRL: Buzz Calkins in top five at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas--Buzz Calkins finished fourth Sunday in the Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, a race observers and competitors alike are calling the most exciting and competitive in Indy Racing Northern Light Series history. It...

FORT WORTH, Texas--Buzz Calkins finished fourth Sunday in the Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, a race observers and competitors alike are calling the most exciting and competitive in Indy Racing Northern Light Series history. It was the best result for Calkins and Bradley Motorsports since they took second at New Hampshire International Speedway on Aug. 18, 1996. Calkins has been fifth on three occasions over the past three years, including twice in 1999. "Overall, it was a good day, but I'm actually disappointed we didn't get third," Calkins said. "I made a mistake. Greg Ray's engine blew up right in front of us and I got off the throttle because I thought they threw the yellow. They didn't and Al Unser Jr. passed us. There wasn't time to get our momentum going again and pass him back." The 29-year-old Denver resident was running third on the 206th of 208 laps when Ray's Team Menard engine had a major failure, leaving a trail of smoke and forcing a caution period. Calkins started 19th, the victim of rain that cancelled qualifying that was two-thirds completed. He'd been fourth with 17 cars in the field and likely would have lined up there. Under Indy Racing rules, if qualifying is incomplete, cars line up by season points. Calkins' Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora steadily gained positions from the start. He was 12th after 75 laps, 10th after 125 laps and jumped to third by lap 175. "We gained a few positions by stretching our fuel," Calkins said. "It was part of our pit-stop strategy and it worked. But we also passed a lot of cars. We had a very strong car." Calkins was preparing to make his final pit stop on lap 171 when Jeff Ward's car had an engine failure. "I was on the apron when Ward's engine went and the yellow came out," Calkins said. "I went back up the track and did another lap. We ran out of fuel coming back into the pits, but we had a very good stop and it didn't hurt us. Several cars stopped under green before we made ours under yellow and it was an advantage for us." Calkins was second, behind eventual winner Scott Sharp, for final restart on lap 188. He was passed by Robby McGehee following the restart. "Our car wasn't quite as good as everybody else's on full tanks on a restart," Calkins said. He was third until Unser passed him and finished 4.49 seconds behind Sharp after the 312-lap race. Calkins moved up to 15th in the Indy Racing points at Texas. He and the Bradley team's next race is this Sunday at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. "We're really happy to have some momentum going to our home track," Calkins said. "We've been fast enough to run up front this season, but didn't have a lot to show for it at the end of the races until Texas."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp