Belterra Casino Indy 300 Postscript: Competition better than ever; Hornish regains points lead. SPARTA, Ky., Monday, Aug. 12, 2002 -- The close competition of the Indy Racing League continued at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 on Aug. 11 at...
Belterra Casino Indy 300 Postscript:
Competition better than ever; Hornish regains points lead.
SPARTA, Ky., Monday, Aug. 12, 2002 -- The close competition of the Indy Racing League continued at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 on Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway when Felipe Giaffone edged Sam Hornish Jr. for victory.
Giaffone held off Hornish by .0932 of a second to earn his first Indy Racing League victory in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone. The margin of victory was less than one-half of a second for the sixth time in 12 races this season. The tight margin of victory lowered the average margin of victory this season to .8344 of a second, not including two races that finished under caution.
There were an Indy Racing League record 13 cars on the lead lap at the end of the 300-mile event, breaking the previous record of 11 set earlier this season at Nazareth, Indianapolis and Michigan. In fact, 20 of the 25 cars that started the race were running at the finish.
While the lead was swapped 11 times Sunday between six drivers, Giaffone took the checkered flag and became the ninth different driver to win this season, tying the record set in the 1996-97 season. Giaffone was also the sixth driver this season to earn his first career Indy Racing League victory, as first-time winners have captured six of the last seven IRL races.
While the first-time winners are sprouting seemingly every race, some of the series' multi-time winners want a piece of the action.
"I hope it stops happening," joked Hornish, the only driver to win three races this season. "I'd like to win again, you know."
Sarah's day: Sarah Fisher, 21, became the first woman to win the pole position for a major-league open-wheel race in North American motorsports history, capturing the MBNA Pole for the Belterra Casino Indy 300.
She turned a track-record lap of 24.0661 seconds, 221.390 mph in the No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone.
"I couldn't really care about history," Fisher said. "It's been a really long year for us. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing hasn't had a pole ever and to give them a pole is great."
Fisher led the first 26 laps before she exited the first round of pit stops in 10th place. Fisher came home with her second consecutive eighth-place finish.
"We maintained our lead from the start until the first stop, which was slow and put us back a bit," said Fisher. "I got some more good racing laps in and some more good experience."
Points battle: Sam Hornish Jr. jumped from third to first in the Indy Racing League points standings after his second-place finish at Kentucky in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
Hornish has 399 points and is four points ahead of second-place Helio Castroneves, who stayed second in the points after finishing fifth at Kentucky in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
Previous points leader Gil de Ferran suffered a tough day, coming home in 21st place, 28 laps down.
de Ferran touched wheels with Richie Hearn on Lap 23, and his crew was forced to make lengthy repairs to the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in the pits. The tough outing cost de Ferran the lead in the points, and he sits in third place with 386 points, 13 behind Hornish and nine points behind his teammate, Castroneves.
Giaffone earned 52 points at Kentucky. He remains in fourth place with 382 points, but is only 17 back of Hornish, 13 behind Castroneves and four points behind de Ferran.
Three's a crowd: Two high-profile Indy Racing League teams ran three cars at Kentucky.
Red Bull Cheever Racing, which competed with three cars for the first time in July at Michigan and finished 1-2 with Tomas Scheckter and Buddy Rice, respectively, did not fare quite as well in Kentucky. Team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. finished 11th in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, while his rookie teammates both brought out cautions during the event. Rice spun in Turn 2 on Lap 123 but managed to come home 12th. Scheckter finished 22nd after an accident with Airton Dare on Lap 90.
Kelley Racing, which entered three cars for the first time at Kentucky, had its three drivers in the top 10. Scott Sharp finished fourth in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, Al Unser Jr. finished sixth in the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, and rookie Tony Renna finished seventh in the No. 78 Kruse Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Renna has finished in the top 10 in each of his three races this season.
Foyt dominance: A.J. Foyt IV won his third Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series event and now has won three of the four Infiniti Pro Series races contested this season in the No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Cory Witherill earned the other Infiniti Pro Series victory, in July at Nashville.
"I feel it's a real good stepping point for the guys like me, Ed (Carpenter), Cory, coming up trying to get in any racing," Foyt said. "Of course, a lot of our goals is to move up in the IRL. That's definitely one of my goals. Hopefully just keep focusing on this year, and the rest will come to you."
Belterra Casino Indy 300 facts and figures:
* This is Felipe Giaffone's first career Indy Racing League victory. His previous best finish was second in April at Nazareth and in June 2001 at Texas.
* Buddy Lazier finished third, his first top-five finish this season. He now has a top-five finish in every season of IRL competition.
* This is Felipe Giaffone's 10th consecutive top-10 finish this season. Giaffone has finished in the top 10 in 21 of his 25 IRL starts.
* Will Langhorne led once for nine laps at Kentucky, his first IRL event. This is the third consecutive race that a driver starting his first IRL race has led laps. Tony Renna did so at in July at Nashville and Buddy Rice did so in July at Michigan.