IRL: IRL drivers at Indy IROC notes

Tough day for Indycar series drivers in IROC at Indy. INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003 -- IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers Scott Sharp, Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., endured a tough day in the True Value International Race of Champions...

Tough day for Indycar series drivers in IROC at Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003 -- IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers Scott Sharp, Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., endured a tough day in the True Value International Race of Champions event Aug. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway finishing sixth, eighth and 11th respectively.

The True Value IROC series, in its 27th year of competition, is racing's all-star game. Twelve of the best drivers in the world compete in equally prepared stock cars in a four-race series. NASCAR Winston Cup Series standout Jimmie Johnson, won the event, scoring his first career IROC victory.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves started on the pole for the IROC race and led the first 20 laps. However, a yellow for debris in Turn 4 came out after 20 laps were completed. On the Lap 21 restart, Johnson passed Castroneves in Turn 3 and took the lead for good.

Castroneves faltered and fell back to seventh by the end of that lap.

"I just need to know how to find the draft," Castroneves said. "Those guys, side by side, I don't know how they do it. (Kevin) Harvick was just pushing Jimmie (Johnson) like crazy (on the restart) and I was thinking, 'How is this possible?' It was fun. Unfortunately I think I destroyed the right front tire. I was feeling like a pro for a moment, thinking, 'Hey, I'm not doing that bad,' but those guys have a lot of experience. I'd like to learn more."

Scott Sharp, who substituted for the injured Felipe Giaffone, was the highest finishing IndyCar Series driver, finishing sixth after starting second.

"It just got tighter and tighter, which you sort of expected," Sharp said. "We ran hard with the NASCAR guys. I think I was the first open-wheel guy to finish, just following those guys along."

Two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. was scheduled to start fifth, but was moved to the last row and started 11th after he missed IROC practice on Friday. He finished 11th.

"It was not too bad," Hornish said. "I couldn't make it here for practice, so I had to start at the back. That's part of how it goes sometimes. I just did what I could. I wanted to take it easy in the beginning and not get in any trouble and not hit anything."

IROC rookie and NASCAR Winston Cup regular Kurt Busch won the IROC XXVII championship, scoring 69 points. Hornish finished eighth with 30 points, while Sharp and Giaffone finished 10th with 24 points. Giaffone scored 9 points in the first two IROC races of the year, while Sharp scored 15 points in the final two races. Castroneves finished 12th with 23 points.

All three drivers earned $80,000 for their efforts.

The next IRL IndyCar Series event is the Emerson Indy 250 Aug. 10 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. The event will be broadcast live on ABC-TV and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network at 3 p.m. (EDT). For tickets, call (866) 35-SPEED or log onto www.gatewayraceway.com.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , IROC
Drivers Kurt Busch , Felipe Giaffone , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Jimmie Johnson , Sam Hornish Jr.