IRL: Gateway: Kelly Racing race report

Up and down day for Kelley Racing at Gateway International Raceway. MADISON, IL -- AUGUST 25, 2002 -- Al Unser, Jr. finished seventh and moved to eighth in the season championship standings while teammates Scott Sharp and Tony Renna were plagued...

Up and down day for Kelley Racing at Gateway International Raceway.

MADISON, IL -- AUGUST 25, 2002 -- Al Unser, Jr. finished seventh and moved to eighth in the season championship standings while teammates Scott Sharp and Tony Renna were plagued by mechanical woes that left them with finishes of 18th and 24th respectively at the end of today's Gateway Indy 250. The race was 13 of the 15 race Indy Racing League 2002 schedule.

But the day wasn't without trials and tribulations for Unser, Jr. and the crew of the

# 7 Corteco/Bryant car. With less than five minutes remaining in the final pre-race practice session, another car spun coming out of turn four blocking the track leaving Unser, Jr. no where to go. The two made contact inflicting damage to the front of Unser, Jr.'s car.

The crew methodically went to work getting the necessary front-end pieces replaced and the car to the grid on time for the race.

Starting in 16th spot, Unser, Jr. battled his way to the top-ten with the assitance of great pit stops gaining him track position as the 200 lap event unfolded.

"It turned out to be an OK race for us after this morning's practice incident," said Unser, Jr. "The Corteco/Bryant crew worked their tails off to get the car repaired and ready for the race. We had great stops all day. I'm sorry we didn't get the repeat win, but we got a strong finish. The car just was a little loose all day, so I couldn't drive down as hard as I wanted into the turns. We got a solid run today for the Corteco/Bryant team."

Following the final race warm up, Sharp and the crew of his #8 Delphi car were optomistic about their chances for a strong finish and maybe even a win. Sharp was fourth in the order at practice end and was pleased with how the car was handling.

Starting the race in 10th place, the #8 Delphi Dallara Chevrolet was running strong until lap 63 when Sharp radioed to the crew that the car had jumped out of gear and stopped running. He brought the car around to pitroad where the crew quickly determined the only option was to replace the grea box as quickly as possible to get back on the track and gain as many positions as possible for points. The replacement took 36 laps to complete. Sharp rejoined the field in 23rd position. He finished 18th and maintained sixth in the season championship point standings.

"The Delphi car ran great at the beginning of the race," said Sharp. "Uunfortunately the gearbox locked up and we had to replace it which costed us several laps. The Kelley crew worked tremendously hard to get my car back out as fast as they could and because of that we gained seven positions. The car ran great all weekend and I was hoping we could have finished better, but as always the Kelley team will give me a great car in Chicago and hopefully we'll have a better finish."

Tony Renna's problems with the #78 Kruse Special/HomeMed car came early in the race on lap nine. Renna was running solidly in the top 10 when smoke came billowing out of the engine compartment and the car quit running. Renna was able to safley coast down pit road and the crew was able extinguish the small electircal fire that had erupted.

The Kruse Special/HomeMed crew took the car to the garage and detemined fixing the failure would take too long so Renna's day ended netting him 24th finishing position.

" My #78 Kruse/HomeMed Special had a short ride because of an electrical failure," said Renna. "I am really not sure what exactly it was, but I think it was the alternator, that is something that couldn't be prevented. The warm-ups and the first few laps felt comfortable and we were in our stride. But then the problem started and ended our day.

"It was just going to take too long to try fix the car. We would have been too many laps behind and we would of wasted some car parts to do so. Unfortunately these things happen, but I know we will get the 78 Kruse/HomeMed Special perfect and ready for the next race at Chicagoland."

The next event for Kelley Racing is September 8, 2002 at Chicagoland Speedway for the running of the Delphi Indy 300.

-kr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Renna , Al Unser