IRL: California: Blair Racing race report

FONTANA, Calif. (March 24, 2002) Local southern California driver Alex Barron of Menifee, Calif. and Blair Racing returned today to America's ultimate race place, California Speedway. Blair and Barron competed in the Indy Racing League (IRL) ...

FONTANA, Calif. (March 24, 2002) Local southern California driver Alex Barron of Menifee, Calif. and Blair Racing returned today to America's ultimate race place, California Speedway. Blair and Barron competed in the Indy Racing League (IRL) series. Today's race, the Yamaha Indy 400, was the third race in the 2002 IRL championship that will run a total of 15 events, including the Indianapolis 500. Barron finished 12th in the 400-mile event.

The Chevrolet-powered by McLaren entry started 20th for the 200-lap race on the two-mile paved oval. Over one million dollars in posted awards makes the checkered flag a highly cherished prize. Barron, however, has a lot to settle with the track; he has led here twice and run at the front with victory slipping away in the final laps. In addition, the Yamaha Indy 400 marks the first time the IRL has visited California Speedway. It also marks the premier IRL event in the state of California. It was the first IRL race to take place on a two-mile track as well as marking the first 400-mile event to take place in the seven-year history of the IRL. It was the second-longest race in league history, 400 miles; second only to the Indianapolis 500.

The temperatures cooled and the winds picked up for today's race. Barron moved the Blair Racing entry into ninth by lap 36 and ran as high as seventh. He held in 13th for most of the race, battling with the field after each pit stop. The pit stops were good and Barron worked the field running within mid pack all day.

"We've had a lot of ups and downs over the past two weeks and over this whole weekend," said Barron. "But we definitely had a good handling car all weekend. Blair Racing did great pit stops today, in and out, and the restarts were good. I got half way into the race and was surprised by the low attrition. I was trying to save the car and engine and at that point I figured we'd go for it. We have a good team here, the right team owner, crew, spotter, engineer and the guy calling the race. We still have a few things to work on to get to the front but we'll get there. I'm happy racing in the IRL. I'm having fun. I'm looking forward to Nazareth; it is another track I am familiar with."

"A top-twelve finish here at a super speedway with a new car and new engine; I am pleased. I think it was a good performance on behalf of the whole team. Alex drove a solid race. We are ready for Nazareth," said team owner Larry Blair.

Blair's Indianapolis based team heads home after back-to-back racing weekends. The teams moves east for further testing. Blair Racing's next race will be the fourth of the season, on Sunday, April 21; it will race at Nazareth Speedway. The race will air on the ABC television network and the IMS Radio Network at 1:00 p.m. eastern, please check local listings.

-br-

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