IRL: Phoenix Harrington Report

Harrington Finishes Fifth In Sunday's IRL Race at Phoenix PHOENIX, March 28 - In only its second Pep Boys Indy Racing League event ever, the Harrington Motorsports team proved it is a force to be reckoned with, as Scott ...

Harrington Finishes Fifth In Sunday's IRL Race at Phoenix

PHOENIX, March 28 - In only its second Pep Boys Indy Racing League event ever, the Harrington Motorsports team proved it is a force to be reckoned with, as Scott Harrington finished fifth Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in the MCI WorldCom 200.

Although the team runs on one of the lowest budgets of any team in the series, on Sunday it proved that hard work, perseverance and talent on and off the track can pay off. The fifth-place finish was worth $30,200 and vaulted the Indianapolis-based driver into ninth place in the overall point standings.

The team, which didn't even exist at Christmas and still needs a primary sponsor, carried the logos of Invincible Sportswear, Abel Construction Co., Vector Technologies, Titleist and Orangewood RV and Marine for Sunday's 200-lap battle around PIR's ultra-fast 1-mile oval.

"To finish in the top five in only its second race is a great testament to the people of Harrington Motorsports, Infiniti engines and Firestone tires," Harrington said. "Now hopefully we'll be able to get a primary sponsor and build from here. It was a great day."

The race was wild. "I've never been hit so many times in a race in my life, but that's because the IRL is so competitive," Harrington noted. "On our own we were OK; the big problem was traffic. You can't rest for a second in this kind of racing. If you let up for a second, five guys are around you. I've never sawed the wheel so much in my life, and I had some trouble seeing things when my left mirror dropped down and I couldn't reach it to straighten it. I got chopped a lot. It was wild."

Harrington started eighth, posting the best qualifying results ever in Pep Boys IRL competition for Infiniti and earning an extra $2,500 from the United Dairymen of Arizona for being the fastest rookie qualifier. His fifth-place finish would have been the second-best ever for Infiniti too, except Robbie Buhl finished third in another car with that powerplant to earn that distinction. The race was won by Scott Goodyear over Jeff Ward, Buhl, Billy Boat and Harrington. Roberto Moreno, Mark Dismore, Scott Sharp, Sam Schmidt and Stephan Gregoire rounded out the top 10 in the 28-car field.

In the early going Harrington bided his time. He ran in various positions in the top 10, playing it smart, staying on the same lap as the leaders, trying to stay out of trouble and conserving his car, his tires and his fuel.

By lap 136 he had moved up to sixth and was getting his first look at the top five, but minutes later his most frightening incident of the race occurred on lap 149. The leader, Eddie Cheever, and second-place runner Buddy Lazier were battling for the lead and they came up on a pack of traffic that included Harrington in turn three.

"A slower car parked it in the groove and hit me, and then I hit Cheever," Harrington said afterwards. "It was a chain-reaction thing. I looked behind me and Cheever and Lazier were in the wall. I feel bad for hitting Cheever, but I had nowhere else to go but up on the track. If I hadn't, we all would have been in orbit."

That accident vaulted Harrington into fourth behind Goodyear, Ward and Moreno, but another close call was still in the cards. On the restart Robert Guerrero, whose car was suffering from a push, hit Harrington in the right front seconds before plowing into the turn four wall. Luckily the damage to Harrington's Dallara was primarily cosmetic. He soldiered on in fourth place, but Boat was drawing up on his rear wing.

Boat got under him on the backstretch for fourth place on lap 194, and a spin by Moreno in turn two left Harrington with no more time to mount another challenge before the checkered waved and the celebrations began.

"We were competitive," Harrington summarized. "I played with the bars a couple of times, but I never made a big change all day. We definitely have the best guys out there on our crew. They did a great job."

Gene Harrington, who along with Scott owns the team, said "We wouldn't be here if we didn't know we could be successful. You don't put yourself through what we have if you don't think you can be successful. It was a great weekend. Scott did a great job and so did everybody else on the team. We showed a lot of people what we can do. Now we'll just have to build from here."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Moreno , Sam Schmidt , Scott Harrington , Gene Harrington