Lazier Tunes Up for Championship Run with Victory on New Nashville Oval NASHVILLE, Tenn., Saturday, July 21, 2001 -- Buddy Lazier and Oldsmobile made beautiful music tonight in Music City as Lazier won the inaugural Indy Racing event on...
Lazier Tunes Up for Championship Run with Victory on New Nashville Oval
NASHVILLE, Tenn., Saturday, July 21, 2001 -- Buddy Lazier and Oldsmobile made beautiful music tonight in Music City as Lazier won the inaugural Indy Racing event on Nashville Superspeedway's challenging concrete oval. Lazier scored his third victory in four races, the seventh victory of his career (a series record) and Oldsmobile's 45th IRL victory. A capacity crowd at the new venue saw Lazier trim Sam Hornish Jr.'s lead in the championship race to 40 points with four races remaining.
Lazier beat Billy Boat to the finish line by 10.629 seconds as Oldsmobile engines powered the top 12 drivers in the Harrah's Indy 200. He was joined on the victory podium by his younger brother Jaques who posted a career-best third-place finish. Every car running at the finish relied on Oldsmobile power, and seven Oldsmobile drivers led all 200 laps around the 1.33-mile circuit.
Questions about Nashville's unique concrete racing surface were answered when both Hornish and Lazier were able to pass their rivals with apparent ease. Both drivers turned race laps at over 199 mph; Lazier turned the fastest lap of the race at 199.160 mph, bettering his 198 mph qualifying speed.
"When the race track is at its worst is when we're at our best," said Lazier, who overcame both the ill effects of the flu and a determined drive by Boat to reach the winner's circle. "This team is starting to pick up a lot of momentum. We're going to give it everything we've got."
Boat made waves with his Curb/Agajanian Motorsports Oldsmobile Dallara, leading 26 laps and posting his best result of the season. "We got caught out behind two lapped cars," he explained. "We were leading and Buddy got by us. It's tough to pass and we really didn't get the breaks we needed in traffic."
Jaques Lazier's journey to the victory celebration was delayed when his car spun on the final lap. "Something let go and the car swapped ends," he reported. "I hated to see the weekend end that way, but it still feels good to be on the podium."
The Sam Schmidt Motorsports team installed an Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 prepared by Comptech Machine in Jacques' car for this event. "The Comptech Oldsmobiles make big power and at the same time they're very reliable," Lazier commented.
Hornish dominated the first half of the 200-lap contest and led a total of 86 laps in Panther Racing's Oldsmobile Dallara, the most among the seven lap leaders. He fell to sixth at the finish after a problem with a fuel injector.
"The car was really fast," said Hornish. "We were better in traffic and had a faster car, but we just didn't have any luck."
The complexion of the race changed dramatically on lap 103 when a multi-car accident erupted in Turn 2. Five cars were sidelined, including the Oldsmobile-powered entries of Al Unser Jr., Mark Dismore, Airton Dare and polewinner Greg Ray. There were no driver injuries.
Hornish and Lazier will continue their battle for the $1 million Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship in the Belterra Casino Resort Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval in Sparta, Ky., on Sunday, August 12. The race will be televised on ABC at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
<pre> Race Summary
Track: Nashville Superspeedway, 1.33-mile oval Winner: Buddy Lazier, Hemelgarn Racing Oldsmobile Dallara Margin of Victory: 10.6293 seconds Average Speed: 144.809 mph Pole: Greg Ray/Oldsmobile, 199.922 mph (track record) Fastest Lap: Buddy Lazier/Oldsmobile, 199.160 mph
Top Five Finishers Pos./Driver/Engine/Laps 1. Buddy Lazier/Oldsmobile, 200 laps 2. Billy Boat/Oldsmobile, 200 3. Jaques Lazier/Oldsmobile, 199 4. Robby McGehee/Oldsmobile, 199 5. Scott Sharp/Oldsmobile, 199
Laps Led: Oldsmobile 200, Infiniti 0 Starters: Oldsmobile 19, Infiniti 2 Running at Finish: Oldsmobile 9, Infiniti 0
Championship Standings After 9 of 13 events
Driver/Engine/Points (victories in parentheses) 1. Sam Hornish Jr./Oldsmobile, 339 (2) 2. Buddy Lazier/Oldsmobile, 299 (3) 3. Scott Sharp/Oldsmobile, 244 (1) 4. Felipe Giaffone/Oldsmobile, 241 5. Eliseo Salazar/Oldsmobile, 236
Manufacturer/Points (victories in parentheses) 1. Oldsmobile, 87 (8) 2. Nissan, 66 (1)
Next Race August 12, 2001, Belterra Casino Resort Indy 300, Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky., 1.5-mile oval TV: ABC, 3:30 p.m. EDT