CHAMPCAR/CART: Tora 14th in first oval race

Lehigh Valley, Pa., May 6, 2001 - Walker Racing rookie driver Tora Takagi brought the ...

Lehigh Valley, Pa., May 6, 2001 - Walker Racing rookie driver Tora Takagi brought the #5 Pioneer/DENSO Special home in 14th place today for his first oval race ever. The Lehigh Valley Grand Prix presented by Toyota took place at Nazareth Speedway and the .946-mile tri-oval racetrack is considered a tricky one even by veteran drivers.

"During the race, my car got very loose, which I had to cope with, and unfortunately I spun (on lap 111)," said Tora. "That spin cost me a lot, but it is something I learned from on my first oval racing track. All in all, it was a very good experience for me, and I was able to run laps as fast as the leaders during the race."

The race began under sunny but cool conditions with two spins by two different racecars after the green flag flew during the opening laps, and Tora commented over the radio that the track was very slippery. On Lap 73, the track went yellow for the first time for a spin by another car, so Tora was called in for an early pit stop for four tires and fuel. Back on track, Tora raced on until he slid sideways in Turn 3. He recovered control of the car and continued on, but lost valuable track position. Excellent fuel mileage allowed Tora to make only one more pit stop during the race, which was also under the yellow on lap 132, and which was for four tires and fuel.

"It was an unusual weekend here at Nazareth in that we had changing weather conditions from when we first went on track Friday until the race today," said owner Derrick Walker. "And I thought we did a good job of keeping up with the changing conditions to get a good car for today. During the race Tora quite often had as good of a car as the leaders did, but since passing is almost impossible here, he ran a good race."

The team made some good pit stops, and we had a good finish, so overall it was a good result."

Round five in the CART FedEx Championship Series will take place in Tora's home country of Japan. The Firestone Firehawk 500 will be broadcast live on Sunday, May 20 on ESPN at 12 a.m. (EST) from Twin Ring Motegi, Japan.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tora Takagi