IRL: Jeret Schroeder Orlando Results

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 29 - Top rookie contender Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J., had the Armour Swift Ekrich/ Dallara Aurora ...

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 29 - Top rookie contender Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J., had the Armour Swift Ekrich/ Dallara Aurora #6 up as high as ninth Saturday afternoon in the Delphi Indy 200 Northern Light Indy Racing League season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway. He achieved his goals of staying out of trouble and finishing the 200-mile race, but unfortunately some problems dropped him back to a 19th-place finish in the 26-driver field when he took the checkered. After qualifying was rained out on Friday, Schroeder's red and black Armour Swift Ekrich/ car lined up 16th on the starting grid. He had a fabulous start and moved right up through the field, despite a really close call on lap two when he almost got pinched into the wall between turns two and three. He was in the top 10 with only 15 laps in the books. When Scott Sharp stopped just before the entrance of turn three on lap 26 with gearbox problems, Schroeder moved into ninth spot. He stayed in ninth for 18 laps. He was running tenth when he came in for his first pit stop on lap 45, which was for four sticker Firestone tires and fuel. That part went well. Schroeder stalled when he attempted to leave the pits, however, forcing the Tri Star team to have to insert the starter motor to restart him. To make matters worse that starter motor failed, so they had to borrow Robby Unser's starter motor from the next pit stall before Schroeder was underway again. In the process the team went a lap down, dropping from tenth to 21st. Around lap 77 Schroeder reported the car had developed a big push, which got progressively worse. Still he gamely persevered, and at the half-way point he was 14th. Seventeen laps later four of the six rookies in the race were running 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively, with Schroeder still 14th. Schroeder was 13th with only 50 laps remaining when he reported gearbox problems and made an unscheduled pit stop. The oil cooler had broken and he had lost all the oil out of his gearbox. The Tri Star team worked hard to make the necessary repairs and had him back on the track for the finish, but he had lost 25 more laps in the process for the 19th place finish in the final rundown, worth $28,800. The race, which was televised live on ABC, was won by Robbie Buhl over Buddy Lazier, Eddie Cheever Jr., Scott Goodyear and Eliseo Salazar. The series champion, Greg Ray, finished two spots ahead of Schroeder in 17th. Stephan Gregoire, who topped the speed charts in practice, was right ahead of Schroeder in 18th. Two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. only got as high as Schroeder did, ninth, before he retired with engine failure two laps later for a 25th-place finish in his Northern Light IRL debut. "Our 19th could have been a lot worse, I guess," Schroeder said philosophically. "I did the old rookie faux pas and stalled it on our first pit stop. I don't intend to do that again. I feel really bad about stalling the car, and the crew feels bad about the starter motor. If that hadn't happened, our race could have been a whole different story. The gearbox problem probably would have happened no matter what though. "We only had about 80 miles on this car prior to the race, but Larry Curry did a great job engineering the car. We could run with the leaders, but when you get a lap down it's really hard to make it up. We just need to get a little luck. At least we finished. This was our first race together as a team. We'll get better. We proved we can run with the leaders, we stayed out of trouble, and we finished, which were our primary goals." There were eight caution flags for 65 of the 200 laps, and there were 11 lead changes among eight different drivers. Schroeder had three close calls. The first and the worst was on lap two when Jaques Lazier spun in the exit of turn two after passing Scott Goodyear on the inside. "I was on the outside of Billy Boat, and he kind of drifted up towards the wall," Schroeder said. "I think someone else was beside me coming up on the outside too, and I don't know if that guy ended up hitting the wall or not, but it was really close for all three of us." Another close call occurred around the middle of the race. "I was trying to give way to Greg Ray in turn two, and a slower car was in the middle of the track," Schroeder related. "We were coming around pretty fast, and we just barely missed him." The third occurred on lap 135 when Sam Hornish Jr. spun at the exit of turn one. "He was directly in front of me," Schroeder said. Although he was one of six rookies in the race, Schroeder set the fourth-fastest time among the entire field in the morning practice session on Friday to dazzle those keeping track of the drivers in contention for the Rookie of the Year award. He leaves Disney fourth in the Rookie of the Year standings after the first of 10 events, however, because fellow rookies Airton Dare, Niclas Jonsson and Doug Didero all ended up higher in the race results. He is 19th in the overall Northern Light IRL point standings with 11 points. Schroeder's next Northern Light IRL race, the MCI WorldCom Indy 200, is scheduled for March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway. It will be televised live on ABC at 4 p.m. Eastern.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Airton Daré , Scott Goodyear , Jeret Schroeder , Jaques Lazier  , Robby Unser , Sam Hornish Jr.