IRL: Kentucky: Race report

SHARP ENDS VICTORY DROUGHT WITH WIN AT KENTUCKY SPARTA, Ky., Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005 -- Scott Sharp held off Vitor Meira to claim his first IRL IndyCar Series victory in more than two seasons, winning the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 at Kentucky ...

SHARP ENDS VICTORY DROUGHT WITH WIN AT KENTUCKY

SPARTA, Ky., Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005 -- Scott Sharp held off Vitor Meira to claim his first IRL IndyCar Series victory in more than two seasons, winning the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

Sharp passed series points leader Dan Wheldon on Lap 134 and dueled with the Indianapolis 500 winner over the next 30 laps. A late caution set up a 25-lap sprint between Sharp, Meira and Wheldon, with Sharp claiming Fernandez Racing's second consecutive win at Kentucky by 0.0779 of a second over Meira. It was the first victory for Sharp since Twin Ring Motegi in 2003.

The team also won at Kentucky in 2004 with team co-owner Adrian Fernandez.

Wheldon increased his series points lead with a third place, while Alex Barron finished a season-high fourth. Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five.

Danica Patrick, who for the second time in her brief IndyCar Series season started from the pole, was running sixth when the leaders came in for pit stops on Lap 71 during a caution period. The No. 16 Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone stalled during the service, and two laps later she returned because of a gearbox issue. She finished 16th.

AMBER ALERT PORTAL INDY 300 POST-RACE QUOTES:

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished fourth): "We made an adjustment there at the last stop, and that was all we needed to move up in the race. We did not have enough to go for the win, though, but we are happy with fourth. The whole crew and I want to win. We need to move forward and find a way to get on the podium every week. This will give us the confidence to hopefully do this."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone, winner AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300): "Where do I begin? It's been a long time. Briana and Jack, I'm coming home with a trophy. Delphi, it's just incredible. Eight seasons and almost 100 races together. It's been just a tremendous opportunity with Adrian (Fernandez) and Tom (Anderson), and Honda is the best motor company that I've ever been with. This motor hauled the mail. (About how he got through the last few seasons): "I've had so many people who've helped me spiritually. I'm just a real spiritual person. Sure you doubt yourself when you have people telling you that you can't drive the car anymore. I just feel when I get in the car I try to go 100 percent. I just can't thank everybody enough."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Menards Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "A Honda one-two finish is great. The Menards Johns Manville car kicked butt again. That's what it's all about. This team wants to win and deserves to win. We give ourselves chances to win, and as long as we are doing that, we are fine. There was no way I could get him (Scott Sharp) on the outside. I would have had to catch him on the restarts which I didn't, or pass him on the inside on the last lap. I was waiting for that to happen, trying sixth gear, but couldn't do it. The important thing is that the Menards Johns Manville car was up there again."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished third): "I think it was a good result for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car today, but it was a real shame that my three teammates didn't finish the race. That's disappointing. I felt kind of lonely out there. It was a real shame. Overall, it was a good result. I think everyone did the job that they could do, and we came up a little short. But everybody should be commended for the job they did. I think from a championship standpoint, it doesn't look too bad."

(About the last pit/restart): "I locked up the fronts coming into the pits, which cost me a little bit, but honestly, I think the two cars in front of me were just a little bit faster than us today."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished ninth): "It's a lot more exciting to run at the front. I have to hold my breath a little longer. It's great to have Chevy power. I feel it's the first opportunity I got to race all season. The Chevy engines made all the difference in the world. We had a couple small problems, like the mic went out on my radio before halfway, and then I lost fifth gear towards the end. But overall, I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season with this ABC Supply car."

JIMMY KITE (No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished 10th): "I love this track. Last time I was here, I was leading with 40 laps to go when my engine blew. This is the best finish for me in this car. Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing has been needing a result like this all year. We've been given some good finishes this year: This one we earned. That was fun."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 95 Pennzoil/Byrd's/American Sentry Guard Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished sixth): "I had a really good race car all day. I just had some trouble getting by people at the end. If I just could have got by them, I feel like we would have walked with it. The car was especially good late and everybody on the Pennzoil team really worked hard for me this weekend."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished fifth): "I'm very happy with our fifth-place finish today. If you were to ask me yesterday if I thought we were going to finish in the top five I would've said 'No way.' We weren't able to find the speed we thought we'd have in practice, so we used Sam's (Hornish Jr.) set-up and that really helped us today. Plus, my crew did an unbelievable job on the pit stops and kept me near the front the entire race. I was a little disappointed on the last restart, because the leaders slowed down just before they took the green, and I had to brake. Our gearing was a little tall, so when we restarted, a few guys got around me and we weren't able to run with the lead pack. The good news is that we made up a few spots in the final laps and brought the Marlboro Team Penske car home in fifth. We've had a couple of tough races the last few weeks, so I'm happy that we were able to bounce back and get a solid result here in Kentucky."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished seventh): "I'm a little disappointed because our car was better than where we finished. We should have been in the top five, if not the top three, but that's how it goes sometimes. We were running with the leaders for the first two-thirds of the race, and my Marlboro Team Penske crew gave me great pit stops to help keep me up front. Unfortunately, due to the extreme heat, my right rear tire blistered, so we made our last stop early under green flag conditions, which put us in the back of the field and a lap down. We wanted to play it safe and make sure we brought the car home, especially since a couple of the guys in the championship hunt had already gone out of the race. We got our lap back when the rest of the field pitted under yellow and passed as many cars as possible in the remaining laps, but just couldn't get back up front. I'm looking forward to running at Pikes Peak next weekend. We've performed well on short ovals, so we're looking for a strong showing."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "First of all, I would like to congratulate Scott (Sharp) for winning the race. He did a great job, and I am very happy for him and the team. It was a good race for me, and I was able to make a good restart, but I was hoping we could finish in better position than last year (when he was fourth). The car was good, and I was able to enjoy the race."

-indyracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dan Wheldon , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske