IRL: Underdog Gets Job Done

FORT WORTH, Oct. 9 - Fans who like to cheer for the underdog have to love Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Scott Harrington, who will battle for the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year award in the series' season finale, the 500, on...

FORT WORTH, Oct. 9 - Fans who like to cheer for the underdog have to love Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Scott Harrington, who will battle for the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year award in the series' season finale, the 500, on Sunday, Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. With only one Dallara chassis and only one Aurora engine, the popular driver of the CertainTeed #66 has been racking up some impressive showings in his rookie season. He also gave fans a real look at heroics when he drove in several events with broken legs, a broken foot and broken ribs. When he had to use crutches to hobble over to his car and use his arms to swing his legs into the cockpit, he gave new meaning to the term "playing hurt." The funny thing about Harrington, a native of Louisville, Ky., who now lives in Indianapolis, is that he doesn't consider himself to be an underdog at all. "I guarantee that nobody has done more with less than we did this year, but when you consider that we finished in the top five in only our second race and we have finished in the top six in almost half of the races we've been in [three of eight], you see that we're a real contender," Harrington says. "We were fastest of everybody in all the practice sessions at the second Pikes Peak race, and we almost won the first Pikes Peak race," he notes. "I know I've only been in about 10 Indy car races in my life, but I think our chances of winning at Texas next week are very good. I actually think we should have already won a race by now this season, as well as we've been running. "This is our last shot to win a race in 1999, so we're going to give it our all," he adds. "The key to winning is hard work, staying out of trouble so you're there at the end, and then having a car that is running well enough to be up to the task." Harrington lists three specific goals for his team at Texas. "First, we want to finish," he says. "We want to bring home that Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award. And if things work out just right, we want to win the race too." There is only one point separating Harrington from Robby McGehee in the battle for the top rookie prize, with two other drivers, Jaques Lazier and John Hollansworth Jr., in the running too. "Robby is a fine driver and I really have to take my hat off to him," Harrington says. "He was Rookie of the Year at Indy, and he's had some great finishes. Jaques and John have had some really good runs this year too. I think the rookie battle is so tight because everything is so competitive in this series; it's the best racing around. I hope the fans come out to Texas to see it all for themselves, and those that can't will catch us on TV or the radio," he adds. "And if they don't have anyone in particular to root for, I hope they root for us, because we need all the good vibes we can get!" Harrington's team has run on a very restrictive budget this year. Where other teams have multiple cars and multiple engines, Harrington has relied on one Dallara chassis and one Olds Aurora engine since Texas. Other teams test extensively; Harrington has had only three test days all year, and one of them was at a drag strip rather than an oval. Other teams' pit crews practice pit stops daily; Harrington only has two full-time employees in the shop, so practicing pit stops is impossible. "I think we've done a lot with a little and we've become a contender fairly quickly; we just decided to form this team over the Christmas holidays," he notes. "But I think my guys are the best guys out there, and I have total faith in our team manager, Darrell Soppe. We have a good sponsor now in CertainTeed, and hopefully we'll be in much better shape financially next year than we were this year. "We have all worked very hard," he concludes. "We are building a solid foundation. We want to race and we want to win. We want to be contenders in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League for many years to come. We may be underdogs now, but we know we can do it. And we hope we can prove that to everybody next week at Texas in the 500." The race will be broadcast on a same-day/taped-delay basis on ABC at 4 p.m. EDT. The day before the race qualifying will be shown live on SpeedVision at 1 p.m. EDT.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Scott Harrington