IRL: Motegi: Kelley Racing Saturday report

MOTEGI, Japan (April 12, 2003)---Rain became the biggest factor in today's qualifying session for the inaugural Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 in Motegi, Japan. Al Unser Jr., driver of the No. 31 Corteco entry, was sixth in line and after taking the...

MOTEGI, Japan (April 12, 2003)---Rain became the biggest factor in today's qualifying session for the inaugural Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 in Motegi, Japan. Al Unser Jr., driver of the No. 31 Corteco entry, was sixth in line and after taking the green flag for his qualifying effort; rain began to fall on the 1.5-mile oval. Unser Jr. did post a time but after steady rain for the next hour, qualifying was canceled and the field has been set by the best practice time of the three practice sessions. Based on that Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi entry, will start in seventh position with a best time of 26.6532 seconds/205.304 mph and Al Unser Jr., driver the No. 31 Corteco entry, will start eighth with a best time of 26.6759 seconds/ 205.129 mph.

Based on the best times of the three sessions held, Scott Dixon will line up first with a time of 26.4353 seconds/206.996 mph and Tony Kanaan will start second with a time of 26.4636 seconds/ 206.775 mph. Tora Takagi rounded out the top three with a time of 26.4671 seconds/206.747 mph.

The green flag for the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 will drop Sunday at 12:30 p.m. local time with the 200-lap race set to air tape delayed on ABC on Sunday, April 13 at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Al Unser Jr. -- #31 Corteco/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone

"My qualifying run was not what we wanted because of the rain. We had gone ahead and finished the run because I really didn't know what to do because it started to rain on my very last lap as I was going into turn three. We ran a better time in practice so now that they are lining up the cars based on practice times, I must say quite honestly that I'm happy that it's raining. I do feel really good about the race car for tomorrow. We can run with anybody out here on a long run so now we'll just think about the race and we've got a good starting spot so we'll go from there."

Saturday Practice
Position: 13th
Speed: 202.233 mph
Time: 27.0579 seconds
Qualifying--*Based on Best Practice Time
Position: 8th
Speed: 205.129 mph
Time: 26.6759 seconds

Scott Sharp -- #8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone

"I'm really pleased to be at the Twin Ring Motegi. I think it's going to be an exciting track to race on with a lot of side by side racing. In particular, I think the starts and re-starts are going to be wild because it's so wide. I think there's the potential to see us five cars abreast in places. The Delphi team has done a great job on the car; we started well here and have improved the car each session. We had a really good car this morning and we were hoping to qualify pretty well here but the rain came. And that's ok, because I think we have a very good car for the race based on the race set-up work we did yesterday."

Saturday Practice
Position: 6th
Speed: 205.304 mph
Time: 26.6532 seconds
Qualifying-*Based on Best Practice Time
Position: 7th
Speed: 205.304 mph
Time: 26.6532 seconds

Fast Facts

* Kelley Racing drivers have made 124 starts, scored seven victories and eight poles in IRL competition.

* Tomorrow will be Al Unser Jr.'s 311th career start, his 38th IRL start and his second season with Kelley Racing. Unser Jr. previously raced at Twin Ring Motegi in 1998 in a CART entry. He started 15th and finished second.

* Tomorrow will be Scott Sharp's 69th IRL start and his sixth season with Kelley Racing.

* The Bridgestone Japan Indy 300 is an inaugural Indy Racing League Indy Car Series event.

-www.kelleyracing.com-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan