IRL: Kentucky: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-8-17

SPARTA, Ky., Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003 -- Sam Hornish Jr. won the Belterra Casino Indy 300 Aug. 17 at Kentucky Speedway. Hornish led 181 of the 200 laps and won by 1.1712 seconds over Scott Dixon. *** BELTERRA CASINO INDY 300 NOTES: Sam Hornish...

SPARTA, Ky., Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003 -- Sam Hornish Jr. won the Belterra Casino Indy 300 Aug. 17 at Kentucky Speedway. Hornish led 181 of the 200 laps and won by 1.1712 seconds over Scott Dixon.

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BELTERRA CASINO INDY 300 NOTES:

Sam Hornish Jr. won his first race of the season and the ninth race of his career. He now holds the record for most IRL IndyCar Series victories in a career.

There was only one caution period in the race, an IndyCar Series record. The previous record for least amount of cautions in a race was two at Walt Disney World in 1997. There were only 10 laps of caution today, also a record. The previous record was 12 laps at Disney in 1997.

The average speed of the race was 197.897 mph, an IndyCar Series record. The previous record was 180.917 mph set in July 2003 in the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Scott Sharp started his 70th consecutive race, setting an IRL IndyCar Series record. He previously shared the record of 69 consecutive starts held by Eddie Cheever Jr. and Buddy Lazier. Sharp has started every IRL IndyCar Series event since Walt Disney World in 1998.

Robbie Buhl finished seventh, his best finish since he finished sixth at Gateway in 2002.

The first 146 laps of the race were run under green. The previous record for most laps under green to start a race was 100 in June at Pikes Peak.

The 146 consecutive laps run under green is an IndyCar Series record. The previous record was 123 consecutive laps run under green at Walt Disney World in 1996. That was the series' first race.

Alex Barron finished 20th and was the first car out of the race. However, he completed 104 laps, the most of any car that was the first out of the race has ever finished in IndyCar Series. The previous record was when Rick Treadway finished last at Kansas in 2002, but completed 101 laps.

Sam Hornish Jr. led 181 of the 200 laps. He has now led 1,767 laps in his career, extending his record for most laps led in a career.

Sam Hornish Jr. won the race after winning the MBNA Pole. Each time Hornish has earned the pole, he has gone on to win the race. He won from the pole at Homestead and Chicagoland in 2002.

BELTERRA CASINO INDY 300 QUOTES:

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"We're part of the game now, and that's what we all want. The moves Chevy made to make us competitive are pretty exciting. We're just at a different level now. In some ways, it's almost like beginning at the beginning of the season again, with a steep learning curve. It's just a whole different dynamic for me. We were flat out for the last 30 laps and working our way back up passing cars. Passing cars; Man, what a great feeling."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"It was a great day for us. Obviously, we want to win races, but it's more important to win championships. Sam (Hornish) had a great car today, and we just didn't have enough to catch him today. Team Target did a great job all weekend, and we gained ground on Tony (Kanaan) in the championship. We need to concentrate on the points championship and keep our eye on the prize. The team gave me great pit stops today and kept us close. I'm looking forward to Nazareth next weekend. We've done well on the short tracks this year, and it's also the place where I got my first win."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"I couldn't run with Scott (Dixon), and I couldn't run with Sam (Hornish Jr.). They had a little more, but I'm real happy with the result we had. We were tuning in on the car all day. After the last stop, my car wasn't quite as good as it had been. I'm not sure why. But that last stop, my guys gave me an awesome stop, and they got me back out ahead of Sam, which put us back on the lead lap. That was huge."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"Today was a good run for the Corteco/Bryant Special. We had problems with our gearbox the whole race, so we didn't have any straightaway speed. I just want to thank all the crew at Kelley Racing and my sponsors, Corteco and Bryant. I also wanted to say that Firestone gave us great tires today, Toyota gave us a super engine, and the crew gave me great pit stops all day long. It was just a shame we were stuck in fourth gear. We had a good car today. We just couldn't utilize it the way we'd like to have, but that happens sometimes."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"Long day. It was a long day for us. We worked hard, but we got some points to extend our lead by one point, so let's take it one race at a time. It was very tough to pass. The track was OK. It is so competitive right now that it's very, very hard to pass. I tried to pass him (Helio Castroneves), but I couldn't. I was trying as hard as I could, but that shows how hard it is to pass. We're friends. We play fair. Now we get to fly home together. We'll talk about it on the plane."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"The Pioneer team gave me probably the best race car that I've had in a while, but something happened during our second run that caused us to run out of fuel. I don't know if it's because we didn't get all of the fuel into the car that we wanted to on our first pit stop, or maybe the car was using more fuel during that second stint. Whatever the reason, it definitely cost us a top finish because I had a very good car. It felt good to be able to pass cars until the end of the race. I think we were running very competitive laps. It's too bad, what happened, but to be positive, I think we are doing better and better with the Dallara. This was only our second race with it. It should be good on the small oval at Nazareth next week."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"The Marlboro Team Penske car was great in the first stint, and I was able to run flat out with no problem. I was anticipating that the car might go loose, so I made a change during the first pit stop that unfortunately turned out to be a mistake. The car ended up pushing in Turn 3, so we worked on it during the next two stops, which improved the handling. We didn't have the car to win today, but we were able to bring it home in the top five and close the gap in the championship. With four races to go, we need to keep working hard and maintain our focus. There are a lot of points to be had, and the competition is very close."

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Medical update from Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League:

Chris Seaman, fuelman for Gil de Ferran's No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, was brushed by the car in pit lane. He was checked and released without injury from the infield car center.

IRL Infiniti Pro Series driver Tom Wood has been transferred from University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, Ky. to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis Wood, from Calgary, Alberta, underwent surgery Saturday evening to stabilize injuries suffered in an accident at the Kentucky 100. He has fractures to his middle back, right knee, right foot and both ankles. Further updates on Wood's condition will be provided when available.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Rick Treadway , Alex Barron , Tom Wood , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn , Sam Hornis
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing