IRL: Indy 500: Kelly Racing race report

INDIANAPOLIS---Kelley Racing posted their best finish at the Indianapolis 500 today with rookie driver Tony Renna, who started eighth and finished seventh in his inaugural race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Renna finished second best of the...

INDIANAPOLIS---Kelley Racing posted their best finish at the Indianapolis 500 today with rookie driver Tony Renna, who started eighth and finished seventh in his inaugural race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Renna finished second best of the nine rookie competitors in today's field. Al Unser Jr., running in his 16th Indianapolis 500, started today in 17th and finished ninth after battling back from an early race tire puncture. Scott Sharp, who started ninth and was leading the IndyCar Series points coming into the race, got out of the racing line on lap 181 and brushed the wall in turn four and thinking things were okay, continued up the main straight only to have the car snap around on him and he then made contact with the turn one wall ending his day in 20th place.

Gil deFerran won today's race, while his teammate and last year's winner, Helio Castroneves finished second. Tony Kanaan finished in third. Up next for the Kelley Racing team is the Bombardier 500K at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7.

Scott Sharp No. 8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone

"The Delphi car was really tight on that last run and we had been fighting the car in traffic all day. It felt like everything was fine and then at the last minute the car pushed up and I got into the outside wall with the front tire and as I got into the straightaway, things seemed okay but then as I got into turn one the car snapped around on me so I think I must have gotten the rear tire as well when I first made contact. Today was just a day of hanging on to our position since there was a pretty good freight train of cars in front of me and you just hope for something to happen in front of you to create an opportunity. We just kept trying to work with the car all day and make it better and hope we would be in a good position. Today was incredibly frustrating and although I love racing here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I just can't seem to turn my luck."

Al Unser Jr. No. 31 Corteco/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone

"We've certainly had better days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but today, my Corteco crew did a great job. They got me in and out of the pits really quickly and we were able to work our way up through the field. We thought we had a right rear tire going flat early on in the race, so they called me in and that set us back. But I still couldn't do a full run wide-open all the way. I would fall just a little short. But congratulations to Roger and all of Team Penske, this is nice for Gil to come back this way. The Corteco team did a nice job and yes, we have a top ten finish. The Kelley Racing team is a great team, and the Toyota engine is a great engine and what else can I say, we hung in there today." Re: Michael Andretti's final race. "It's a shame that Michael didn't have a better finish today but he will certainly go down in the record books as one of the all-time greatest drivers. And I truly don't think we've seen the last of Michael, Indy has a way of drawing people back in."

Tony Renna No. 32 Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Pharmacy/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone

"Today was a great day and a lot of fun. I think for my first year here and my first 500 mile race and to finish in the top ten is pretty great. To finish in position seven at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a thrill. Today was an honor to give Kelley Racing their highest finish ever in the Indianapolis 500. The Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Pharmacy crew have done an awesome job all month. Unfortunately today, right there at the end we lost our way a little bit but we were still able to hang on and to get a really good finish. I'm pretty pleased with where we ended our day. It was funny because I really wasn't too nervous today but it's nice to have this one in the books."

Al Unser Jr. Fast Facts

* 2003 was Unser Jr.'s 16th start at the Indianapolis 500, his 312th career start and his 39th IRL start. At Indianapolis in 2002, he started seventh and finished 12th.

*Unser Jr. has won two previous Indianapolis 500's, 1992 and 1994. In 1994, Unser Jr. started from the pole and led 48 laps en-route to his victory.

*Unser Jr. has seven top-five finishes, and ten top-ten finishes at Indianapolis and has led 110 laps.

*As a family, the Unser's (Jerry, Bobby, Al Sr., Al Jr., Johnny and Robby) have 70 starts in the Indianapolis 500 and nine wins, more than any other racing family.

Scott Sharp Fast Facts

*2003 was Sharp's ninth start at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his 70th career start and his sixth Indianapolis 500 with Kelley Racing. In 2002, he started eighth and finished 27th after a mechanical failure.

*Sharp's best start at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was in 2001 when he started from the pole with a qualifying speed of 226.037 miles per hour. His best finish was tenth in 2000 and 1996. Sharp has led three laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

*Sharp's victory last month at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan was his eighth career victory and the second consecutive year that he has won the race prior to Indianapolis.

Tony Renna Fast Facts

*2003 was Renna's first Indianapolis 500. He passed his Rookie Orientation Program on April 21, 2003.

*Renna previously competed for Kelley Racing in 2002. In his seven IndyCar Series starts, he has a best finish of fourth at Michigan.

-kr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Tony Renna
Teams Team Penske