Sharp wins at Nazareth as De Ferran runs out of fuel. NAZARETH, Pa., Sunday, April 21, 2002 -- Scott Sharp earned his first Indy Racing League victory of the season when leader Gil de Ferran ran out of fuel on the final lap of the Firestone Indy...
Sharp wins at Nazareth as De Ferran runs out of fuel.
NAZARETH, Pa., Sunday, April 21, 2002 -- Scott Sharp earned his first Indy Racing League victory of the season when leader Gil de Ferran ran out of fuel on the final lap of the Firestone Indy 225 on April 21 at Nazareth Speedway.
De Ferran slowed while being stalked by Sharp exiting Turn 2, letting Sharp's No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone pass for the victory. Sharp held off Felipe Giaffone's No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone by .4969 of a second for his first victory since the Casino Magic 500 in June 2001 at Texas Motor Speedway. de Ferran coasted to the finish to take third in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
"The Delphi team was great in the pit stops," Sharp said. "(Team owner) Tom (Kelley) made great strategy calls. We really had momentum right now."
Sharp was so stunned by his victory in the inaugural Indy Racing event at Nazareth that he asked, "Where do I go? What do I do?" to his team over the radio on his cool-down lap, trying to get directions to Victory Lane.
1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Sharp averaged 93.789 mph -- the second-slowest winning speed in IRL history -- in a race slowed seven times for a league-record 116 laps due to incidents and rain. He earned $109,300 for his seventh career IRL victory, one behind all-time leader Buddy Lazier.
Sarah Fisher finished fourth in her first start of the season in the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone, while Helio Castroneves was fifth in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
The final-lap drama occurred as de Ferran was trying to finish the final 130 laps of the race under full power on one tank of methanol fuel. His last stop came on Lap 95 as team owner Roger Penske elected to gamble by keeping MBNA Pole winner de Ferran on the track during late-race caution periods, hoping either rain would end the race early or de Ferran would conserve enough fuel during the lengthy caution periods to have enough to run to the finish.
Penske's gamble fell about one-half mile short.
Sharp had closed to within two-tenths of a second of de Ferran when both took the white flag for one final lap around the tricky 1-mile oval. But de Ferran slowed exiting Turn 2, and Sharp and Giaffone whizzed past.
"The engine sputtered there in the middle of (Turn) 2," de Ferran said. "We obviously were running out of fuel, and then it picked up again going through the backstretch. At one point I was afraid that we weren't even going to make it to the line, but thankfully we picked up enough speed that I could make it to the line.
"It was a shame, but nevertheless I thought it was a great strategy by Roger and the team. It was a great run for the team, both Helio and I running up front all day. We're just going to keep plugging along, and it (victory) will come."
De Ferran took the lead from teammate Castroneves on Lap 178 during a caution period when Castroneves made his final pit stop. The race stayed under caution due to rain until Lap 207, when Sharp was able to race with full fuel flow to gain time on de Ferran, who was forced to "run lean" to conserve fuel.
Sam Hornish Jr. kept the IRL points lead despite placing 17th, his worst finish since placing 27th October 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway with PDM Racing. Hornish's worst prior finish in 16 starts with Panther Racing since March 2001 was 14th at the Indianapolis 500 last May.
Hornish was forced to the pits for repairs for 47 laps after the left-front suspension on his No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone was damaged in a collision with 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier on Lap 38. Hornish has 154 points, five ahead of de Ferran and nine ahead of Castroneves.
Sharp climbed to fifth with 98 points with the victory.
Jaques Lazier and Tomas Scheckter were transported by air to Lehigh Valley Hospital for tests and observation after they collided on Lap 123. Both drivers were awake and alert.
The next event in the Indy Racing League is the 86th Indianapolis 500 on May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Opening Day for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is May 5, with MBNA Pole Day May 11, second-day qualifications May 12, Bump Day May 19 and Coors Carb Day May 23.
"With the win here, we're really ready to go to May," Sharp said. "We came here with some new ideas, new setups, and here we are."