HOUSTON â€“ Oct. 7, 2001 â€“ Walker Racing rookie driver scored a CART-best finish of 4th place at the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston today and also made a mark in the open-wheel record books by becoming the highest finishing...
HOUSTON – Oct. 7, 2001 – Walker Racing rookie driver scored a CART-best finish of 4th place at the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston today and also made a mark in the open-wheel record books by becoming the highest finishing Japanese driver in CART history. Tora started in 14th position in the #5 Pioneer/DENSO Special and made slow and steady progress on the difficult to pass course on the streets of downtown Houston en route to his record setting finish. “The car was good from the very beginning of the race,” said Tora. “The big problem with Houston is that it’s very difficult to overtake here – almost impossible. We didn’t change tires on our last pit stop, so the driver behind me (Castroneves) was closing and it was hard to keep up with the leaders, but I didn’t give up. It’s very good to have this finish with such a competitive field. This 4th place was a total team effort and a good end result for us going into our next race at Laguna.” Tora made two pit stops during the 100-lap race. The first was for four tires and fuel on lap 39, and Tora had moved up to 10th place by the time he exited the pits after his stop. “Houston is about managing your fuel consumption and tire wear plus maintaining your track position,” said owner Derrick Walker. “Tora did that well today, and with a good car and Al Bodey's excellent fuel calculations we had a strong finish. It was a good team effort.” By lap 57, Tora had moved up to 7th place and was as high as 2nd before his second and last pit stop under the yellow on lap 80. The stop was for 3 seconds of fuel only. “What we needed today was consistency and Tora was able to deliver,” said team engineer Steve Newey. “ He drove a good race, and we had good pit stops. That, along with a little bit of luck on the yellows, came together for us at the end.” Round 19 of the CART FedEx Championship Series will take place at Laguna Seca Raceway. The Honda Grand Prix will be broadcast live on ESPN at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 14.
*** Walker Racing IRL driver Sarah Fisher didn’t fare quite as well at her final race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 6. Qualifying for the Chevy 500 was rained out and the drivers started in order of their point standings. On the first lap of the race, Sarah’s #15 Walker Racing/Kroger Special/Dallara/ Oldsmobile /Firestone car did a 360 degree spin and made contact with the Turn 3 outside retaining wall. The car sustained damage to the nose and right front suspension. Sarah was uninjured, and finished 25th. “It’s been a difficult season for our IRL team,” said Derrick. “Sometimes you have a season like this one, where our high point at Homestead came very early on and then the rest of the year doesn’t quite go as planned. We will re-evaluate and re-group for next season and come back even stronger.” Sarah finished in a tie for 19th place in the IRL season-ending point standings. She made history in her sophomore season on April 8 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with her second-place finish – the best finish by a woman in open-wheel race history.