Hornish Extends IRL Points Lead with Third Straight Runner-up Finish KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sunday, July 8, 2001 -- Oldsmobile lost a battle today but continued to win the engine war in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. For only the second time...
Hornish Extends IRL Points Lead with Third Straight Runner-up Finish
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sunday, July 8, 2001 -- Oldsmobile lost a battle today but continued to win the engine war in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. For only the second time in 4 1/2 years, Oldsmobile finished second in an IRL event as Infiniti driver Eddie Cheever Jr. took the checkered flag .197 seconds ahead of Oldsmobile racer Sam Hornish Jr. at Kansas Speedway. Hornish extended his lead in the championship standings with his third straight runner-up finish as Oldsmobile continued its drive for a fifth straight IRL drivers championship. Oldsmobile clinched its fifth IRL Engine Manufacturers Championship in the preceding event in Richmond, Va.
"We congratulate Eddie Cheever and Infiniti on their victory today," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL/Road Racing Group manager. "They have obviously worked very hard on their engine program and their effort was rewarded. The competition between manufacturers will certainly be intense for the rest of the season. We are confident that Oldsmobile teams and engine builders will be up to the challenge."
Hornish and Cheever raced wheel-to-wheel in the closing laps of the inaugural 200-lap race on the new 1.5-mile speedway. Hornish took the lead on lap 191, but surrendered the point to Cheever on lap 198 when Cheever went low in the fourth turn.
"I was coming up behind Eddie at the end of the race, there was some water leaking out of his motor and I thought he was going to have a problem," said Hornish. "I was thinking, 'I'm sure glad I've got an Oldsmobile right now,' but it didn't happen. My motor ran real well today. I had a lot more power that I thought I'd have with the heat today. The guys at Speedway Engine Development did their usual great job. I'm just glad I'm running the motors I am."
Hornish increased his lead in the championship standings to 60 points over Buddy Lazier, who finished fifth in Hemelgarn Racing's Oldsmobile Dallara after winning the two preceding races. Oldsmobile drivers hold the top six spots in the standings with five races remaining.
"To keep finishing ahead of the drivers who are close to me in points is the big thing," said Hornish. "As long as we do that we'll keep stretching out the points lead, and that's what we need to do."
Donnie Beechler equaled his career-best finish with a third-place finish in A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile Dallara after leading three laps. His teammate Eliseo Salazar led the first 32 circuits and ultimately finished seventh.
"Our motor ran great and our setup was good, but I was scrubbing the front tires just enough to lose speed," said Beechler, who crossed the stripe .977 seconds behind the winner. "We'll take a third place today and shoot for first at the next race."
Nine of the ten drivers who finished on the lead lap used Oldsmobile power, and IRL Aurora V8 engines powered 13 of the 14 cars running at the finish. Seven Oldsmobile drivers led a total of 96 laps. Mark Dismore ran the fastest lap of the race at 217.347 mph in Kelley Racing's Oldsmobile Dallara -- faster than his teammate Scott Sharp's pole-winning speed of 216.175 mph. Sharp spun and hit the wall on lap 137 while running second; he was uninjured in the accident.
The next stop for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series is the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway oval for the inaugural Harrah's Indy 200 on Saturday night, July 21. The race will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. EDT. <pre> Race Summary
Track: Kansas Speedway, 1.5-mile oval Winner: Eddie Cheever Jr., Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti Dallara Margin of Victory: .1976 seconds Average Speed: 148.914 mph Pole: Scott Sharp/Oldsmobile, 216.175 mph (track record) Fastest Lap: Mark Dismore/Oldsmobile, 217.347 mph
Top Five Finishers
Pos./Driver/Engine/Laps 1. Eddie Cheever Jr./Infiniti, 200 laps 2. Sam Hornish Jr./Oldsmobile, 200 3. Donnie Beechler/Oldsmobile, 200 4. Felipe Giaffone/Oldsmobile, 200 5. Buddy Lazier/Oldsmobile, 200
Laps Led: Infiniti 104, Oldsmobile 96 Starters: Oldsmobile 20, Infiniti 2 Running at Finish: Oldsmobile 13, Infiniti 1
Championship Standings After 8 of 13 events
Driver/Engine/Points (victories in parentheses) 1. Sam Hornish Jr./Oldsmobile, 309 (2) 2. Buddy Lazier/Oldsmobile, 249 (2) 3. Eliseo Salazar/Oldsmobile, 217 Felipe Giaffone/Oldsmobile, 217 5. Scott Sharp/Oldsmobile, 214 (1)
Manufacturer/Points (victories in parentheses) 1. Oldsmobile, 77 (7) 2. Nissan, 60 (1)