IRL: Motegi: Chevy race report

Sam brings Chevy home in sixth at Twin Ring Motegi. MOTEGI, Japan, April 13, 2003 - The Indy Racing League's first overseas race saw Sam Hornish Jr. finish sixth in the inaugural Japan Indy 300 with Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. Robbie...

Sam brings Chevy home in sixth at Twin Ring Motegi.

MOTEGI, Japan, April 13, 2003 - The Indy Racing League's first overseas race saw Sam Hornish Jr. finish sixth in the inaugural Japan Indy 300 with Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. Robbie Buhl was tenth across the stripe in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Chevrolet Dallara to give the 2003 Chevy Indy V8 two top-10 finishes in the accident-filled event. Scott Sharp won under caution in Kelley Racing's Toyota Dallara.

"I don't think we had a strong enough car to win, but we had a good enough car to be in the top three," said Hornish, who started 13th in the 24-car field after qualifying was rained out. "The day was pretty good and it was fun to pass people.

"I wish there had been less yellows and more green-flag runs," Hornish continued. "We worked our way up through the field and the longer the runs were, the better off we were. The unfortunate break was that every time we pitted under green, the yellow flag would come out two laps later and we'd go a lap down. Then we'd have to work hard to get it back. With the way guys were crashing, in another 50 laps we might have won the whole thing."

The race was slowed nine times by caution periods that involved 13 cars and totaled 64 laps under yellow-flag conditions.

"Naturally we are concerned about all of the drivers who were involved in accidents today, and we hope there were no serious injuries," said GM Racing Group Manager Joe Negri. "Sam's sixth-place finish does not accurately reflect the outstanding performance of the Pennzoil Panther team today because the timing of the caution periods worked against them. Our focus is now on the Indianapolis 500, and we will continue to work hard and make improvements in the Chevy Indy V8's performance."

Robbie Buhl overcame an early electrical problem and handling difficulties to score a top-10 finish in his Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet Dallara.

"I was happy with the car early on, and then it went to being pointy, which is the sense we've had from the car a lot," said Buhl. "I'm frustrated with the balance of my race car, and we just have to keep working."

Buddy Rice encountered transmission problems and finished 13th after the Red Bull Cheever Racing crew replaced the gearset in his Chevrolet Dallara. Chevy drivers Sarah Fisher and Jaques Lazier were sidelined in accidents; Fisher was unhurt, and Lazier was examined and released.

"We're putting the car back on the trailer with four wheels again, but it's been a struggle today," said Rice. "We don't understand the gearbox problem; it's got a gremlin in it. It helps that we got some points on guys who fell out, and that's going to help in the long run.

"We have to keep working and make something happen by the end of the year," Rice added. "We're not even 25 percent of the way through the season, and we have a lot of work to do."

Sarah Fisher was credited with a 23rd place finish in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Chevrolet Dallara after contact with Shigeaki Hattori on the 35th lap.

"It's a shame our day had to end so early," said Sarah. "I had a good race car and we were just getting into our race pace. We were starting to pick off the cars in front when I came to Shiggy and was right alongside of him to pass. He came down on me. I'm just really disappointed to be on the sidelines watching when I could be out here racing."

Practice for the Indy 500 will begin on May 4, with Pole Day on May 10 and the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 25.

NEXT EVENT
May 25, Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
TV: ABC, 11 a.m. Eastern

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Robbie Buhl , Shigeaki Hattori , Scott Sharp , Buddy Rice , Sam Hornish Jr. , Jaques Lazier
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing