HARRINGTON STILL BATTLES, WAITS FOR LUCK TO CHANGE FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 27, 1999 - Scott Harrington leaned on his crutches, looking as if he'd been run over by the Denver Broncos star running back Terrell Davis (he was the grand ...
HARRINGTON STILL BATTLES, WAITS FOR LUCK TO CHANGE
FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 27, 1999 - Scott Harrington leaned on his crutches, looking as if he'd been run over by the Denver Broncos star running back Terrell Davis (he was the grand marshall), and tried to accept 19th place in Sunday's Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. This wounded warrior from Louisville deserved a better fate in the fifth Pep Boys Indy Racing League race of the season. He definitely deserved better. Harrington was driving with a broken right fibula requiring a cast on that leg and also with three cracked ribs on his right side that couldn't be totally protected. Yet, he drove an incredible race, charging up to second twice despite some problems with the car on pit stops. He was solidly in third and closing on the leaders on Lap 183. Then he drove his The CertainTeed Building Products Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone hard into Turn 3 as he moved to pass a back marker. Let him explain what happened next: "It was a mistake. We were lapping a car and having a little bit of trouble trying to get around him. Went down low in three. I had it on the throttle. He came down and kind of cut across. I lost the air and the thing just washed out and went right up into the fence." Harrington kept the car up against the outside wall and it rolled on around to a final stop in the middle of Turn 1. The four wheels were still on it and it was towed on around to the pits. When the car halted, he leaned his head forward dejectedly on the front cowling. "It was just so discouraging for the whole CertainTeed Motorsports team," he said. "We had them as a new sponsor, and we wanted to do well for them. The guys worked harder than anybody out there and it was just so close to the end. I was trying to be careful. "It was the first time all day the car washed out like that. Right across his wake. The marbles (bits of tire rubber pushed to the upper edge of the track) by that point in the race are horrible. I thought I had it. I just got the right side tires in the marbles and it just took off." Harrington took a swig from a bottle. He still couldn't smile. "I do now," he said about feeling pain. "It slapped my knees together big time when I bounced off the wall." Just then he was asked to return to the pits for a television interview. He limped slowly away slumped onto the crutches. Father Gene, the team owner, stayed behind. He said he had not seen his son do anything gutsier since his birth on Christmas Eve, 1963. "I'm extremely proud of him," the senior Harrington said as crew members from other teams shook his hand as they headed for the garages. "He's prepared to do whatever it takes to get the job done. We want to do this and succeed and get on the top of this thing so bad. He's got as much desire if not more than anybody around here. We just keep trying and think sooner or later we can get over the hump." A new team in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League this year, young Harrington finished fifth with an Infiniti at Phoenix, but then at Indy he was bumped from the field just before it rained. He crashed and was injured at Texas Motor Speedway. At Pikes Peak, he experienced a mechanical problem in qualifying and had to pit before taking the green flag. He was allowed to return later, but given only one lap instead of the normal two. Despite the pressure, he lapped at a speed fast enough to put him eighth in the lineup. When the race started, he jumped on the brakes and barely missed an opening lap crash between Tyce Carlson and Billy Boat. On Lap 66, he moved up to fifth and onto the scoring tower for the first time. He took fourth two circuits later and advanced to third on Lap 61. He pitted on Lap 78 and dropped toward the middle of the pack. By Lap 129, he had charged back to fourth, took third on 148 and then zipped around Sam Schmidt for second in Turn 2 as the race reached the three-quarter mark. Harrington visited his pit for the second and last time eight laps later. It took him only five laps to regain fifth. Then quickly it was fourth and then third. Gene Harrington credits veteran crew chief Darrell Soppe with preparing a perfect car. "Darrell's fanstastic," he said. "There's not enough words to say how good Darrell is. We have the best team person to person out here. Scott is as good a driver as anybody out here. "We've got all the ingredients. We're still a little short on our luck." Harrington's brave battle brought him only a $12,100 payoff. That was about $60,000 less than he would have received for third. He hopes to earn more in the Kobalt Mechanic Tools 500 Presented by MCI WorldCom at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 17. "We'll go down there and see what happens," he concluded with a somber shrug.