INDIANAPOLIS, July 23, 2001 - It was another busy weekend for the Walker Racing IRL and CART teams as Sarah competed in the inaugural Harrah's Indy 200 race at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday night, and Tora in the Michigan 500 presented by ...
INDIANAPOLIS, July 23, 2001 - It was another busy weekend for the Walker Racing IRL and CART teams as Sarah competed in the inaugural Harrah's Indy 200 race at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday night, and Tora in the Michigan 500 presented by Toyota at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon, with owner Derrick Walker spotting for his drivers at both oval racetracks.
Derrick flew down from Michigan to Nashville in a private plane on Saturday with former Walker Racing driver Scott Goodyear to spot for Sarah at the sold-out Saturday night race.
Sarah qualified the #15 Walker Racing/Kroger Special/Oldsmobile/Dallara/
Firestone car in 17th position and finished in 19th place on the 1.3-mile oval after retiring on lap 82 with handling problems.
"We stopped because the car wasn't where we needed it to be," said Sarah. "We made a couple of changes during our pit stops, but weren't really getting anywhere. There was a great battle going on between the leaders of the race, and I didn't want to be in the way."
Tora started the Michigan 500 presented by Toyota in third position, his best start to-date in the CART FedEx Championship series. Qualifying for the Michigan 500 was rained out on Saturday, so starting positions for the MIS race were determined based on the final practice session, where Tora clocked a quick time of 227.913 mph on the 2-mile oval in the #5 Pioneer/DENSO Special/Toyota/Reynard/Firestone car.
Sunday's 500-mile race was the longest that Tora had ever run, and added to the equation was the fact that the Japanese rookie driver had never driven on an oval before this year, which made his 13th place finish a very satisfying one.
"The car was very good all during the weekend," Tora said. "We had quite a lot of speed in the draft, but when the race started my car didn't have enough straight-line speed to catch the leaders. It was a good experience on a large oval, and it was a lot of miles - my hands were getting stiff on the steering wheel and I found myself hoping for a yellow, but I now feel very confident going into the next superspeedway race at Fontana."
Derrick was on top of the grandstands spotting for Tora during his first superspeedway event.
"Tora did a fantastic job at Michigan," Derrick said. "He was very impressive to watch and I'm sure that most of the drivers would give him the feisty driver of the day award because he was one tough son-of-a-gun to overtake.
It was a very full oval weekend for our team on two challenging racetracks. The fans at Nashville and Michigan got tremendous value for their money, and the exciting racing that went on at both really is a testament that open wheel racing is a lot of fun."
Round 12 of the CART FedEx Championship Series will be run on July 29th at Chicago Motor Speedway. The race will be aired at 4 p.m. (ET) on ABC. Both CART and IRL will take the weekend of Aug. 5 off and return to action on Aug. 12 at Mid-Ohio Sports Complex (CART) and Kentucky Speedway (IRL).