SPARTA, Ky. (Aug. 12, 2001) -- The Infiniti Indy 35A engine was a serious contender for the victory at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 until Robbie Buhl's late-race charge for first place ended when he ran out of fuel on lap 198 of the 200-lap race...
SPARTA, Ky. (Aug. 12, 2001) -- The Infiniti Indy 35A engine was a serious contender for the victory at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 until Robbie Buhl's late-race charge for first place ended when he ran out of fuel on lap 198 of the 200-lap race at Kentucky Speedway.
Infiniti-powered drivers Robbie Buhl and Eddie Cheever Jr. ran in the front pack of five cars for most of the first half of the race. Cheever ran as high as third, but his hopes for winning his second race of the season ended on lap 106 when he retired from the race with a damaged halfshaft joint.
Buhl, who maintained his position in the lead pack for the second half of the race, made his move for the win after the final pit stop. Racing side-by-side with eventual race winner Buddy Lazier, and leading for five laps, Buhl was challenging Lazier with two laps to go when he slowed on the backstretch of the 1.5-mile speedway. A miscue on Buhl's final pit stop, which resulted in the fuel tank toppling over in pit lane, deprived the No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Infiniti of the necessary amount of fuel needed to finish the race.
On the final race standings, Buhl finished ninth, while Eddie Cheever Jr. finished 21st in the No. 51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti.
Next on the schedule, the Indy Racing Northern Light Series makes its first visit to the Gateway International Raceway, near St. Louis, Mo., on Aug. 26. ABC will televise the Gateway Indy 250 live.
Robbie Buhl, No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing GForce-Infiniti (Finished 9th): "It's frustrating. The Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold team, along with Infiniti, has been competitive since May. We've always had a competitive car, you just can't see it in the black-and-white results. Today is another case of that. You can't give up anything on the track, because we are racing side-by-side. And every little bit in the pits makes a difference. Leaving the pits early on that last pit stop, while the fuel hose was still hooked up, hurt us today. Johnny O (O'Gara), our team manager and right-front guy, anticipated the drop of the car and the fuel coming out. He waved me out, and Bubba, our fuel guy, was just trying to release the hose and it hung up. It's a game where tenths of a second make a difference, and we were just trying to make everything work perfectly. There was a little bit of a miscue, and the end result was that we didn't get enough fuel in the tank. Everyone on the team is okay, so we are happy for that. (About reports of blocking) There is no question about it. Scott Sharp blatantly blocked and if Brian Barnhart doesn't do something about it he is going to lose credibility in the way he runs the series."
Eddie Cheever Jr., No. 51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti (Finished 21st): "When I left the pits after my last stop, we had a problem with the clutch -- it wouldn't disengage properly. When we came in to take a look at it, we saw that the CV joint was ready to break. It's a good thing that we stopped because it probably would have blown within five laps and we would have lost a half-shaft. It's very disappointing because the Infiniti 35A was strong all weekend and my car had just started to come in perfectly before we had the clutch problem."