IRL: Schroeder Texas results

FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 15 - After a fabulous charge at the start before he settled into various top-10 positions and ran as high as sixth, a problem with the alternator spoiled Jeret Schroeder's hopes of winning the $50,000 Racesearch.com...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 15 - After a fabulous charge at the start before he settled into various top-10 positions and ran as high as sixth, a problem with the alternator spoiled Jeret Schroeder's hopes of winning the $50,000 Racesearch.com Rookie of the Year award Sunday in the Indy Racing Northern Light series season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. The Vineland, N.J. driver was forced to make seven pit stops to winner Scott Goodyear's four due to the problems and he took the checkered in 16th position. His chief rival for the top rookie prize, Airton Dare, ran out of fuel at one point but he still finished 12th, which was good enough to give Dare six more points than Schroeder earned this year and the top rookie prize, 142 points to Schroeder's 136. Sarah Fisher was the third-highest-finishing rookie with 124 points followed by Sam Hornish Jr. with 110 and the driver who finished seventh in the race, Shigeaki Hattori, placing fifth in the rookie standings with 109 points. Unofficially Schroeder ended up 17th overall in the final point standings for the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Cup, which was won by Buddy Lazier. Dare was right ahead of him in 16th and Fisher was right behind him in 18th. Scott Goodyear won Sunday's race, the Excite 500, over Eddie Cheever Jr. and Billy Boat before a crowd estimated at 61,100 and a national ABC TV audience. "That's the way the cookie crumbles I guess," said Schroeder after the race. "It was just a racing thing. The Tri Star Motorsports team prepped me a very good car, but sometimes this stuff happens. The alternator just failed, and there was nothing the team or I could do about it. "The car was running very well before the problem occurred," Schroeder added. "It was really good in the draft. I think we had a top-five car today if we wouldn't have had those problems, but these things happen sometimes and there isn't anything anybody can do about it." The stats prove Schroeder's point. He recorded the fifth-fastest lap of anyone all day when he turned his 104th lap (the race's 113th) at an average speed of 214.751 mph while running 18th. That was faster than any lap the winner ran all day, and only Ja ques Lazier, Buddy Lazier, Buzz Calkins and Dare were faster anytime during the race. It was also much faster than the 210.928-mph lap that Schroeder ran when qualifying 17th on Saturday; that circuit would have put him second on the grid if it had occurred 24 hours earlier. "Dare had a great year, and my hat is off to him," Schroeder made a point of adding. "He did a very good job and he earned the award. I guess my new goal is just to beat him and everybody else for the championship next year," he added with a smile. Dare was also gracious to Schroeder in his post-race comments. "We've both had ups and downs during the season. If everything would have gone right, we would have been contending for the championship this year, not [just] the rookie [award]." Schroeder set the fourth-fastest time in the final practice session Saturday afternoon, and both he and his car were primed to go to the front on Sunday. He had vaulted from 17th into ninth place only two laps after the green flag waved. He was eighth on lap eight when another one of his rivals for the top rookie prize, Hornish, became the first retiree when his car developed an engine problem between turns one and two. Polesitter Greg Ray dropped out with an engine problem on lap 15, which made one less top competitor for Schroeder to try to pass too. Schroeder's Kroger/Tristarmall.com #6 was running so well that he didn't ask for any changes to be made to it during his first regular stop for fuel and fresh Firestone tires on lap 47 while running seventh to Dare's ninth. Twenty laps later he was as high as sixth and drawing a bead on the fifth-place car of Robbie Buhl when Tyce Carlson blew an engine at the entrance to pit road and brought out the first yellow on lap 68. At that point Schroeder reported that the car was pushing a little when he was close behind another competitor but it was handling fine when he was a few lengths behind someone or running alone. Schroeder was tenth on lap 80, but then the pace was slowed for the second caution of the day when Stevie Reeves' engine blew on the frontstretch. There were still very happy reports coming from the cockpit of the #6 though, so again the car just needed new Firestone tires and fuel when Schroeder and just about everyone else pitted under that yellow. The green came out again on lap 94. Then, without any warning while running tenth, Schroeder radioed that something was wrong. He made his first unscheduled pit stop for the alternator problem on lap 98. When he returned to the fray he was nine laps down and in 18th spot, but the problem occurred again so he had to return to the pits again on lap 106. To make matters worse, Dare was up to fourth place while Schroeder was in the pits. Schroeder came back into the pits yet again on lap 119 and lap 140, but there was a glimmer of hope for his camp when Dare stopped at the entrance to pit road on lap 142. Dare was just out of fuel, however, and although he lost four laps he was able to restart as soon as his car was refueled. Schroeder had to be towed back into the pits on lap 155 when he again lost power, which brought out the third caution of the day. By that point it was just a matter of trying to finish the race for Schroeder, and that's just what he did just like he did six other times in the nine-race series this year. (His only DNFs were at Atlanta and Kentucky.) His teammate for this race, Zak Morioka, brought out the fourth and final caution in the 208-lap event for the only accident of the day when something broke on his car and he hit the outside and inside walls in turn two on lap 193. He wasn't hurt, although later he said he "was sore from my head to my hips." Morioka finished 15th.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Robbie Buhl , Shigeaki Hattori , Buddy Lazier , Billy Boat , Airton Daré , Scott Goodyear , Jeret Schroeder , Tyce Carlson , Stevie Reeves , Sam Hornish Jr.