IRL: Kentucky: Kelley Racing race notes

Kelley Racing scores three top-ten finishes in Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. SPARTA, KY -- AUGUST 11, 2002 --The measure of the solidity of a team is the ability to pull together under adversity. The strength of the leadership...

Kelley Racing scores three top-ten finishes in Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

SPARTA, KY -- AUGUST 11, 2002 --The measure of the solidity of a team is the ability to pull together under adversity. The strength of the leadership of Team Owner Tom Kelley, General Manager Jim Freudenberg and Team Manager, Jim Wilson was never more evident than today at the start of the Indy Racing League Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Overshadowed by the morning practice session accident involving Kelley Racing Infiniti Pro Series HomeMed Pharmacy teammate Jason Priestley, the #8 Delphi team, #7 Corteco/Bryant team and #78 Kruse Special team went to work with a determination fueled by the examples set by team leaders Kelley, Freudenberg and Wilson.

Further placing the teams in a position that would have brought down individuals with lesser commitment to the unity of the whole organization was a pit road incident on lap 93 involving three crew members of the #78 Kruse Special. Bernie Hallisky, Rusty Hurford and Jeff Horton were injured when driver Tony Renna came down pit road for service, the car striking Hallisky. Hallisky sustained a compound fracture of the right leg and possible hip injuries. He was transported to Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital where surgery was performed to stabilize his injured leg and he was evaluated for further possible injuries.

Hurford was transported to a local hospital for precautionary x-rays of the head, neck and back. He suffered a strained neck, was treated and released.

Horton suffered a deep bruise to his hip area, was treated in the infield care center and released back to his duties as the fueler for the #78 car. He completed the remaining pit stops of the race.

Team members from all three cars pulled together to share pit stop duties as the race unwound with the assistance of Cheever Racing crew members whose #52 entry driven by Tomas Scheckter was out of the race. At the checkered flag, the extraordinary efforts on the part of the Kelley Racing crewmembers resulted in three top-ten finishes.

Scott Sharp moved in to sixth place in the Indy Racing League series point standings following an impressive fourth place finish in his #8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet in the Belterra Casino 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Sharp, who started the race 21st, progressed quickly to the front of the 25-car field and raced a majority of the 200 lap event in the top 10.

"We struggled all weekend with our set-up and it paid off," said Sharp. "The steering was difficult towards the beginning of the race, but my Delphi crew made some great adjustments and the car felt much better towards the middle of the race.

"The Delphi crew gave me a great car today. We started far back in the field and to be able to increase positions at the rate we did is incredible. This is the hallmark of this team -- never give up. I am very proud of my Delphi team."

A rejuvenated Al Unser, Jr. was ready to race. Although Unser, Jr. fought the slick track surface from his 14th starting position, his well prepared #7 Corteco/Bryant car aided by fast pit stops from his crew, allowed the veteran to showcase his skills and to run in the top five, racing to second by lap 70.

"The Corteco/Bryant car ran well throughout the race," said Unser, Jr. "Unfortunately I didn't finish as well as I anticipated. The car was turning fast laps and we worked our way to the front quickly. We also had great pit stops today that helped us stay close to the front but the race winner and I had a close call on the track that forced me into the marbles up top of the corner. We dropped back and didn't have time to make up all of the lost ground. I think he and I will have to have a discussion about the incident."

Maintaining a top-ten position in the Indy Racing League point standings, Unser stands in ninth place.

In only his third Indy Racing League start, rookie Tony Renna drove his #78 Kruse car to his third top-ten of the season finishing seventh. Starting from the 12th position, Renna was able to move up to the top ten quickly and stay there the majority of the race.

"We had a great car all day," said Renna. "The track was extremely slick and it was difficult to pass, but luckily the car handled well and I was able to work my way through traffic.

"I hope my guys are all in good condition. I plan on contacting them as soon as I can to check on their condition. I am not sure what happened in the pits, but I think the Kruse Special crew showed the excellence of our team in repairing the car and working together to finish the race without a few members of our crew. I am so proud of their efforts and helping me continue to learn. I couldn't do this without all the great people Kelley Racing has assembled for our Kruse Special team."

Felipe Giaffone won his first win of the season with Sam Hornish finishing less than a hundred of a second behind (.0932). Hornish's second place finish allowed him to advance to first place in the Indy Racing League points standings. He carries a four-point advantage over Helio Castroneves and a thirteen point advantage over Gil De Ferran.

The next event for Kelley Racing is the Gateway Indy 200 on August 25, 2002 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison Illinois, just across the river from the Arch in St. Louis.

-kr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Tony Renna , Jason Priestley , Jim Wilson , Al Unser , Sam Hornis