Priestley finishes second in inaugural Pro Series event; Sharp, Unser maintain top-10 spots in championship. KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sunday, July 7, 2002 --Temperatures in excess of 95 degrees with a heat index of 105 degrees took its toll on man ...
Priestley finishes second in inaugural Pro Series event; Sharp, Unser maintain top-10 spots in championship.
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sunday, July 7, 2002 --Temperatures in excess of 95 degrees with a heat index of 105 degrees took its toll on man and machine today at Kansas Speedway.
Jason Priestley drove the No. 7 HomeMed entry to a podium finish for Kelley Racing with a second place finished to A.J. Foyt IV., in today's inaugural event for the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, the support series for the Indy Racing League.
"What a great day for the HomeMed team," said Priestley. "My guys gave me great race car. I was probably a little over cautious at the start but there is one thing I have learned in racing-you can't finish first until you learn to finish all the laps. I wanted to make sure we had a good run and everything went back on the trailer in one piece.
"It was exciting to be out there running side by side and nose to tail with the other cars. The cars handle so well and stick to the track. I just need to spend as much time as possible getting as many laps as I can to improve our performance. This is a great series and once we all get more comfortable racing one another, the races will be exciting and close.
"Drafting is a whole new experience for me. I want to make sure I learn it and understand what does works and what doesn't work running at these kinds of speeds.
"I can hardly wait until we get to Nashville. I can't thank Kelley Racing and HomeMed enough for this opportunity."
Scott Sharp started 13th and was running as high as 2nd late in the race. It was a tough battle for the top positions the entire 200 laps as Sharp finished a strong sixth and maintained his 9th-spot in the Driver Points Championship.
Al Unser Jr. steadily worked his way up from his inside ninth row starting spot to take the race lead on lap 69. Unser led for a total of 29 laps during the race. Aided by fantastic pit stop by the Corteco/Bryant crew, he never dropped from the top five until lap 189 when he radioed in he had lost a gearbox and the day was over for the #7 Kelley Racing entry.
As Unser climbed from his car, track noticed he looked overheated. He was treated and released from the infield care center for dehydration.
"We struggled a little bit all weekend," said Sharp. "We had a great practice session this morning and the car was perfect. The balance in the car was really good and I could drive wherever I wanted to. Unfortunately when we started the race, the car felt loose and I was sliding all over the place. There were times when I was able to work with the weight jacker and get the car to handle better, but it just wasn't enough to put us at the front of the pack."
"This was very disappointing for the Corteco/Bryant team," said Unser "Because my guys gave me an awesome race car. Their pit stops were the best on pitroad. They got me back into the lead twice with incredible stops. Our race performance continues to improve, we struggled with qualifying and started farther back than we wanted, but I had a strong enough car to get to the front.
"We don't know what happened but do know it was transmission related.
"I was to thank my crew members, everyone at Kelley Racing and Corteco for this team. We just continue to improve as a team.
"I also want to thank the track safety personnel and the staff of the infield care center for their care after I got out of the car."
Sharp's Delphi team showed their strength in the pits again and quick stops allowed the No. 8 car to gain positions on track. At one point, Sharp came to the pits while in 6th, but a fast stop moved him up to 2nd behind his teammate Al Unser Jr.
"My hats off to the Delphi crew," said Sharp. "They gave me some great pit stops. This is a great track to race on. It's so smooth, but today was still a hard, tough race for everyone. I was very impressed with the Firestone tires. They worked great in this heat. We were able to put a lot of laps on the tires all weekend and they just kept doing a terrific job for the Kelley team."
The next event for Kelley Racing is the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday, July 20. The event will be broadcast live on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. (EDT).