By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Fort Worth, Texas (June 9, 2001) - Scott Sharp won the Casino Magic 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night, taking the checkered and yellow flags together after Greg Ray, who led at the time, made...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Fort Worth, Texas (June 9, 2001) - Scott Sharp won the Casino Magic 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night, taking the checkered and yellow flags together after Greg Ray, who led at the time, made contact with a slower car.
With five laps to go, Ray led a tight pack of cars down the backstretch when they encountered Robby McGehee, who was circulating several laps down to the leader. As the leaders approached, McGehee was instructed to stay low on the track, allowing the leaders a clear path to the outside.
Ray saw a hole to the inside of McGehee and dove low to complete the pass. Thinking he was clear of the slower car, Ray moved up the track, clipping McGehee's left front tire. Both cars spun, collecting the third-place car of Eddie Cheever. Sharp managed to avoid the wreckage, earning his sixth career victory.
"Greg got a great run to the inside," said Sharp. "It would have pretty dirty if I tried to block him. I thought it was over at that point in time. I kept pedaling hard, but I just couldn't get Greg.
"They told the lapped cars to stay at the bottom of the track, and let the fast cars go to the outside. I knew that Greg felt that if we did that, went to the outside, he might leave a hole there. Obviously you don't want to open the inside. Greg and the lapped car both got to the same spot at the same time."
Five laps prior to the wreck, Ray, Sharp and Cheever ran three wide, wheel-to-wheel, through turns three and four, drawing gasps from the 70,000 fans in attendance.
Unofficial results posted Saturday night awarded second place to Sam Hornish with Felipe Giaffone third. The unofficial results are under protest for the second and fifth place finishing positions.
Prior to the three-car melee on the backstretch, Giaffone passed Hornish near the start finish line cleanly for second place. Hornish, in an attempt to avoid the scattered wreckage and the slowing car of Giaffone, moved into second place as the pair drove through the scene of the accident. Giaffone contends that Hornish passed under yellow conditions.
"There was a car coming down the track, so I could either run into you, or run into the other car," interrupted Hornish as Giaffone tried to explain the incident in the post-race press conference.
Giaffone's team, Treadway-Hubbard Racing, has filed a formal protest regarding the final results. Race results will not be declared official until Monday morning after Indy Racing officials review data from timing and scoring.
McGehee, who was struggling with a car running on seven cylinders, suffered a broken leg and concussion. Cheever and Ray were uninjured.
Buddy Lazier finished fourth, picking up two positions in the championship battle. Lazier, now fifth in the championship, 18 points behind Giaffone, started 13th and moved steadily through the field. "We're happy with fourth," said Lazier. "This lets us catch our stride and it's a step in the right direction for the championship."
Fifth place, unofficially awarded to Donnie Beechler over Billy Boat, is under official protest too. In an incident similar to the one involving second place, Boat's team has officially protested the decision to award fifth place to Beechler.
Former Indy Racing driver Tony Stewart won the International Race of Champions held Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. Al Unser Jr., currently representing Indy Racing in IROC competition, finished second, just ahead of former IRL champion Kenny Brack in third. Eddie Cheever was fourth.
The final IROC of the event of 2001 will be held August 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.