Harrington Comes Back from Lap One Crash to Finish 14th at Vegas LAS VEGAS, Sept. 26 - Looking like the Wood Brothers, the CertainTeed crew performed miracles Sunday during the Vegas.com 500 Indy Racing League event at Las Vegas...
Harrington Comes Back from Lap One Crash to Finish 14th at Vegas
LAS VEGAS, Sept. 26 - Looking like the Wood Brothers, the CertainTeed crew performed miracles Sunday during the Vegas.com 500 Indy Racing League event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, changing the entire left-rear suspension on the CertainTeed Dallara Aurora in just over a half-hour and getting Scott Harrington back underway after an opening-lap accident. Then the team methodically worked on the car's suspension with Harrington for the rest of the race, getting the car to the point where the young driver was able to record some of the fastest laps of the race. The 53 laps they lost at the start were too much of a handicap to overcome but the team's perseverance and determination to finish the event was awarded with a 14th-place finish in the 208-lap race at the checkered.
"We have the best team out there, bar none," Harrington said after crawling out of the cockpit of the car at the end of the race and accepting the cheers of some 250 CertainTeed employees and customers on hand. "The big story of the day for us was the super-human effort our guys made getting the car back out there. I'm going to have a big bill to pay over at the bar at the Las Vegas Hilton, which is one of our associate sponsors for this race, because I already told the guys I'm buying the beer tonight!"
Harrington started 12th. On the opening lap Donnie Beechler spun in turn two behind him to bring out the yellow, and as all the drivers slowed down Harrington spun and hit the wall between turns three and four. Stephan Gregoire couldn't avoid Harrington's spinning car and they also made contact, although Gregoire was able to continue. Harrington's car was damaged in the left rear, and when the wrecker brought the car back to the garage area the team immediately started to make repairs. Approximately 32 minutes later Harrington roared back onto the track, 53 laps down.
"On the first lap going into [turn] three I had a big head of steam going, and I was right on the low line of the track," Harrington said. "Somebody yelled 'Yellow!' over the radio [due to Beechler's spin]. I was right on the edge of the apron, and when I rolled off the throttle the car just spun around and I hit the wall. It was my fault; I shouldn't have been that low on the track. Both the upper and lower wishbones were gone on the left. The CertainTeed crew did a fabulous job and replaced the entire left-rear suspension, including the axle, in a little over half an hour.
"Later in the race we were the fastest car out there at one point. That part just makes you sick to your stomach when you know you have a fantastic race car...but there isn't much you can do when you're 50 laps or so down."
Harrington set the third-fastest lap of the race. He was in 22nd position at the time, and it was his 105th lap and the 157th lap of the race. Only Tyce Carlson (205.152 mph) and the eventual winner, Sam Schmidt (203.943 mph), went faster all day.
When Harrington rejoined the field on lap 53 he was in last place. With the set-up being done on the fly, the car was "kinda squirrely," but Harrington and team manager Darrell Soppe got right to work changing the bars, the weight jacker and the pressure in the tires when they pitted. They made their first pit stop on lap 99 of the 208-lap race.
There were 11 cautions during the event as other teams ran into problems too, and by lap 143 there were just 18 cars on the track. By lap 143 Harrington was still 23rd in the standings, but eight of the cars ahead of him were already out, and by lap 166 he was up to 18th. He was 15th by lap 193 and he was able to record more laps than one more driver, Ronnie Johncox, at the very end to finish 14th.
With a sixth-place finish, Robby McGehee was able to take a one-point lead over Harrington in the battle for the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award, 138 to 137. Jaques Lazier has 118 points; John Hollansworth Jr. has 116 and Johncox has 55. Just one race remains; it is scheduled for Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
The CertainTeed crew had an honorary pit crew member on race day: Carl Parsons, a CertainTeed customer from Santa Cruz, Calif. He won that honor in a special drawing on Saturday night, and he ran tires for the team for a unique behind-the-scenes experience.