By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Sparta, KY (August 27, 2000) - Buddy Lazier earned his fourth career victory in Indy Racing Northern Light Series competition winning the Belterra Casino Resorts Indy 300 at the Kentucky Speedway this ...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Sparta, KY (August 27, 2000) - Buddy Lazier earned his fourth career victory in Indy Racing Northern Light Series competition winning the Belterra Casino Resorts Indy 300 at the Kentucky Speedway this afternoon. With a win at Phoenix in March, Lazier becomes the first repeat winner this season.
Coming into this weekend's event, Lazier led the championship standings by 23 points over Eddie Cheever. He proceeds to the final event of the season at Texas Motor Speedway leading the championship by 38 points over Scott Goodyear, who finished second today.
Lazier needs to finish 13th or better at Texas to clinch the Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship.
"I just thrilled. You just can't believe it. We were leading the championship going into this race and we had about a month to sit here and think about it. I haven't slept too good this last three or four weeks. I really want this championship."
Lazier drove the No. 91 Oldsmobile-powered Delta Faucet/Coors Light Dallara from his fourth row starting position to take the lead on lap 41. He relinquished the lead on lap 55 when he reported to the pits for a scheduled fuel stop. But the 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion missed his marks making it impossible for the crew to fuel the car. A second stop two laps later relegated Lazier to the rear of the field.
"We didn't get our fuel, so we had to come back in again and move our way to the back to the back. That basically made for a very long hard day. I had to fight all day and really run the car hard to get back to the front of the field."
Lazier's drive through the field placed a tremendous strain on the Delta Faucet car, causing the gearbox to break as he crossed the finish line, less than two seconds ahead of Scott Goodyear. "I've never seen this before. I went under the start finish line, lifted off the throttle and I broke fifth gear."
"It had been jumping out of gear for the last twenty laps or so. It would jump out of gear going into (turn) one and I'd force it back into sixth or fifth. When I clicked it off, it broke fifth and took out all the rest of the gears. I had to coast in. It broke the gearbox and I had no drive right."
Scott Goodyear, driver of the Pennzoil Panther Racing Oldsmobile-powered Dallara led the most laps in the race, leading three times on his way to a second place finish. Goodyear led late in the race, inheriting the lead when Lazier made his final pit stop. Four laps later, Goodyear made his final stop, handing the lead to 19-year old rookie Sarah Fisher, who finished third.
It was the first time Sarah Fisher, driver of the Oldsmobile-powered Walker Racing Cummins Special, had ever led in Indy racing competition. "I tell you what, I got goose-bumps," she said. "Certainly, I had to keep calmed down because it wasn't the end of the race by far and we were out of the pit sequence. It was really great to be able to lead a lap because these guys are really tough competitors."
Fisher has experienced a steep learning curve since she's made the jump from midget and sprint cars to Indy cars this year. The Butler University freshman has made has made mistakes, but as she pointed out, "I've learned something from everyone of them."
"I have a lot more patience. When there's an opportunity for me to pass, I make sure it's the right one, instead of just stuffing it in any hole that I could find. That's more the technique of a sprint car driver. In Indy cars, or any other type of race car where you race over 200 laps, you have to have a bit more patience.
Eddie Cheever finished fourth in the Infiniti-powered Excite@Home Dallara, his fourth top-five finish this season. "The car was loose at the beginning," said Cheever. "We over-corrected at the first pit stop and it gave some push, but the car was good the last two stints."
"It's been a slugfest with Buddy Lazier for most of the season, but now I'd say he has a pretty firm lock on the Indy Racing championship," said Cheever, who is third in the championship standings, 41 points behind the leader.
The Indy Racing Northern Light Series moves to the Texas Motor Speedway outside Fort Worth, Texas for the ninth and final round of the championship on October 15, 2000.
Notes: The Belterra Resort Indy 300 will be moved to Sunday, August 12, 2001, from its originally announced date of September 16, 2001. The race will be televised live on ABC-TV.