Harrington Finishes Sixth at Dover DOVER, Del., Aug. 1 - Scott Harrington drove the CertainTeed Dallara Aurora ...
Harrington Finishes Sixth at Dover
DOVER, Del., Aug. 1 - Scott Harrington drove the CertainTeed Dallara Aurora #66 to a solid sixth-place finish Sunday in the MBNA 200 Pep Boys Indy Racing League event at Dover Downs International Speedway. The young Indianapolis-based driver also led his first lap in Pep Boys IRL competition (lap 146), as he was one of seven drivers to lead the 200-lap affair on the Monster Mile. Even more importantly, his sixth-place finish vaulted him into the lead in the point standings for the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award by two points over John Hollansworth Jr.
The sixth-place finish was Harrington's second-best finish in Pep Boys IRL competition ever. His best finish was fifth at Phoenix March 28.
"Starting fifth and finishing sixth in our first race at Dover made for a great day for the CertainTeed team," Harrington said. "We were a little off on our gearing, which really hurt us on restarts. We were real good on our own but not too good in traffic.
"I feel certain we would have done even better if we didn't catch our third pit stop wrong," he continued. "We made it under green and then two laps later the yellow came out and we lost a lap. That was just luck - nobody can predict when a yellow is going to occur. But the CertainTeed crew had fabulous pit stops today and lots of times we were running as fast as the leaders."
Harrington dropped back to eighth at the start but he was seventh, about six seconds behind the leaders, on lap 35 when he had his closest call of the day. Scott Sharp crashed in turn four and Harrington dove low to miss him, narrowly missing Sharp's spinning car. He made his first pit stop under that yellow, and shortly thereafter Harrington's #66 was fourth on the scoring pylon.
He was sixth when the race's worst accident occurred, when Eliseo Salazar and Hollansworth crashed in turn two on lap 71 after Salazar's rear wing collapsed. Luckily no one was injured. He pitted under yellow on lap 85 and had dropped to 16th at the half-way point, but by lap 135 he had climbed back to sixth. He led lap 146 during a round of pit stops and then dipped into the pits himself for the third time. He was still going down pit road, ready to return to the track, when the pits closed on lap 147 for a yellow for Jimmy Kite, who had stopped in turn one and needed a tow-in. The other top cars were able to pit under yellow and Harrington went down a lap at that point, but he was still eighth.
Just 10 laps to go the second- and third-place cars of Stephan Gregoire and Mark Dismore, respectively, collided exiting turn four. They weren't hurt. The top five cars were on the lead lap and Harrington was still sixth, one lap down. The green waved again on lap 197 to set up a three-lap dash to the checkered.
Harrington missed a shift on the restart but the second-place car of Buddy Lazier quickly got around him, leaving about a four-car-length gap between Harrington (still in sixth) and the third-, fourth-, and fifth-place cars of Kenny Brack, Billy Boat and Sam Schmidt, respectively. Harrington came under some criticism when the third-, fourth- and fifth-place cars weren't able to pass him at the end, but he was maintaining the same line he'd used all day.
"The cars behind me could pass me if they wanted to, but they never got closer than about four car lengths," Harrington said later. "Our car was set up to run the low line, and I maintained my line all day. I wasn't about to pull over and park it."
The race was over and Harrington was sitting on the pit road wall when Eddie Cheever and Robby Unser came over to Harrington's pits and physically attacked him after the race. They accused Harrington of weaving during the event, which baffled the young driver.
"I don't even think I played a role in Eddie's accident," Harrington said. "I'm sorry if they're upset, but I think if they watch the video they'll feel differently. I'm disappointed in their behavior, because their lack of professionalism is a bad reflection not only on them but also on the series.
"Overall it was a good day for the CertainTeed team though," Harrington said. "We finished in the top 10, and that was our goal. We're going back to Pikes Peak now and we ran great there, so the CertainTeed team is very optimistic that we'll have another strong run there."
Three races remain in the 1999 season: Aug. 29 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; and Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Harrington is now 17th in the driver standings for the league, and the team is 18th.