Barron breaks through with first victory, scores Chevy's Tenth consecutive win in Nashville NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 20, 2002 -- Alex Barron was crowned the new king of Music City tonight as Blair Racing's Rayovac Chevrolet Dallara won the...
Barron breaks through with first victory, scores Chevy's Tenth consecutive win in Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 20, 2002 -- Alex Barron was crowned the new king of Music City tonight as Blair Racing's Rayovac Chevrolet Dallara won the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway. Barron scored his first Indy Racing League victory and notched Chevrolet's 10th straight win in IRL competition. Chevy Indy V8 engines finished first through fourth on the challenging concrete 1.33-mile oval.
Barron took the lead on lap 189 of the incident-filled 200-lap contest. He swept under Scott Sharp in the back straight on a restart following the race's seventh caution period. Barron then held off Gil de Ferran in a final two-lap shootout after the evening's eighth yellow flag. Barron crossed the stripe .4234 seconds ahead of de Ferran's Penske Racing Chevrolet Dallara.
"We concentrated on our setup for restarts because it's hard to overtake on a track like this once you get going," Barron explained. "The Chevy engine had a lot of power all weekend. It was really strong -- the best we've had all year."
Barron stood in the winner's circle in only his tenth start with Blair Racing. His best previous finish was a fourth place in the Indianapolis 500, a result that earned him the co-Rookie of the Year title.
"I haven't won a race since 1997 and it's been hard for me," Barron said. "I really had to dig down the last few years. This is the breakthrough for my career."
De Ferran overcame adversity to score his runner-up finish and take a 10-point lead (347-336) over his teammate Helio Castroneves in the IRL championship.
"I have to give it to Alex," said de Ferran. "He really stood on it the last lap. He kept it wide open and gave me no chance. We had a puncture early in the race, came in under green and went all the way to the back. We managed to come all the way forward at the end. My car was very good; a shame we didn't win, but a great day overall."
Sam Hornish Jr. had the dominant car tonight but not the racing luck he needed to win. He led 95 laps, more than any other driver, but contact with George Mack's car under yellow while leading the race damaged his car and sent him to the pits with a punctured tire. He battled back to fourth on the track, and subsequently moved up to third when IRL officials penalized Scott Sharp one lap.
"Under green flag running we were 2 or 3 mph faster than everybody else and showed we could pull up to the front any time," said Hornish, third in the championship standings with 333 points. "We had an incident under yellow, but the team recovered from it. I'm disappointed that we didn't win, but overall we had a good weekend. We led a lot of laps and showed that we were capable of winning races. We're going to keep coming back."
The race was slowed to an average speed of 127.997 mph by eight cautions; all of the drivers involved were examined and released. Several drivers cited the concrete track's narrow groove that made overtaking difficult as a contributing factor in the accidents.
IRL will begin the final third of its 15-race season next weekend when the series makes its first foray to Michigan International Speedway for the Michigan Indy 400 on Sunday, July 28.