LAS VEGAS, Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - Scott Harrington, the defending Indy Racing Northern Light Series Rookie of the Year, is getting a late start on becoming the series' top sophomore. Saturday's Vegas Indy 300 at Las Vegas Motor...
LAS VEGAS, Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - Scott Harrington, the defending Indy Racing Northern Light Series Rookie of the Year, is getting a late start on becoming the series' top sophomore. Saturday's Vegas Indy 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be his first race of the 2000 season. It's all because a sponsor pulled the plug on Harrington Racing late last year. Scott's father, Gene Harrington, owned the team. But now Scott has joined Nienhouse Motorsports for the remainder of the season and has been reunited with his former team manager, Larry Nash. Harrington showcased his skills last year driving for the family team, using the same Infiniti engine most of the season. He scored a best finish for the season of fifth at Phoenix, and earned three top-10s in the final four races of the year to finish 14th in the points standings, best among rookies. However, when the new millennium rolled around the team had shut down and it appeared that at age 36 it might be time for Harrington to seek out a more lucrative career. But Harrington didn't look at his future that way at all. "If it was about money," he said, "I would have quit doing this a long time ago." That's a fact. Just examine his tenacity following adversity in the past. In 1996, the Louisville native qualified 32nd at Indy with 23 minutes left on the final day. The team had a leased chassis and he had to forfeit his winnings for 15th place when he crashed late in the race. He missed the 1997 race, then had engine trouble on his second qualifying lap in 1998. Last May he was bumped on Bubble Day. "I've been everyday trying to keep things going," Harrington said. Harrington had been talking with Nienhouse and Nash off-and-on since December 1999, but it was only in late March that all the pieces, including sponsorship, fell in place. American Hotel Register Company is the team's primary sponsor for 2000. Harrington said the key to this arrangement is that he won't have to put names with faces since he knows most of the team. Some of Harrington Racing's crew has made the switch to Nienhouse. "My dad will be involved as always, searching for sponsorship," Harrington said. "He's going to the races a little more as a parent. "We had such a small budget last year. That's why I'm proud of the success we had. It was really tough. It put a lot of pressure on us to be conservative. "It's one of those things you can't dwell on. It's a cruel fact of the sport. It needs a financial base. If we had known the way the sponsorship (in 1999) was going it would have been a different ball game. They got out late and we were starting from scratch." Harrington said he only has to be the driver this year. In 1999 he did everything from arranging travel to handling sponsor entertainment. "There pretty much wasn't a job on the team I didn't do," he said. The practice of using the same engine began after Indianapolis. The team would use it for qualifications and the race, then would send it to Brayton Engineering for a quick overhaul so it would be ready for the next race. He said that is the beauty of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. "It's like it used to be where everybody would try to help everybody out," he said. "I can't say enough about Jim Wright and Lee Brayton (of Brayton Engineering). Without them we wouldn't have made it through the season." Harrington feels he has been fortunate in his limited Indy Racing career to be involved with such talented mechanical personnel such as Darrell Soppe, his chief mechanic last year, and Nash. He considers those two the best in the business. The Nienhouse team plans to do testing down the road, something that was out of the question for Harrington last year. Last fall at Las Vegas, Harrington had what he called a fantastic car. He started 12th and was running well when a caution flag came out. Cars in front of him braked and he cut low to miss them, clipped the apron and bent a suspension piece. It was repaired and he was still running at the finish, earning 14th place. He had the third fastest lap of the race. "The car was good out of the box," he said. "I'm looking forward to going back and doing the same thing." Harrington is determined to be remembered for more than Indy Racing rookie of the year when his career is complete. "For me, the Indy Racing series and the Indy 500, it's a destination for me," he said. "There's no other series this competitive. And in the 500 there is no other race that has this tight of competition. I have a lot of good years left. This is where I want to spend them."
Schedule: The Vegas Indy 300 starts at 12:30 p.m. (PDT) April 22. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 1 p.m. April 21.
Practice sessions start at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. April 20, and 9 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. April 21.
Autographs: Two autograph sessions featuring Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers are scheduled. The first is 5 p.m. April 19 at Race Rock, located on Fremont St. in Las Vegas. The second is 5:45 p.m. April 21 in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway garage area, following Northern Light Series final practice.
On the air: The Vegas Indy 300 will be televised live on ABC at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) April 22. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised live at 3 p.m. April 22 on ESPN2. ESPN2 will televise MBNA Pole qualifying at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) April 21. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 3 p.m. (EDT) April 22, followed by the live race broadcast at 3:30 p.m.
The Las Vegas IRRN affiliate is KRLV AM 1340.
The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.
Tickets: Tickets are available for the Vegas Indy 300 by calling (800) 644-4444 or by visiting http://www.lvms.com.