IRL: Richmond: Chevy race report

A Long Day's Night for Chevy on Richmond Short Track RICHMOND, Va., June 26, 2004 - When you step into a bullring, sometimes the bull wins. That was the case tonight on the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway bullring as accidents and ...

A Long Day's Night for Chevy on Richmond Short Track

RICHMOND, Va., June 26, 2004 - When you step into a bullring, sometimes the bull wins. That was the case tonight on the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway bullring as accidents and handling problems sidelined five of the six Chevy-powered drivers. Felipe Giaffone avoided the mayhem for 250 laps and brought the Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet home in one piece with his second straight top-10 finish. Dan Wheldon won in Andretti Green Racing's Honda Dallara.

"We just didn't have enough time to get the car exactly where I wanted it," said Giaffone after the IRL IndyCar Series' second night race of the season. "I didn't have the grip we wished for, so we went down one lap soon. You let one car by and then you really lose position because it's all about momentum. On the other hand, when we had the momentum and got a good jump we could move up a couple of positions as well. Overall I have to be happy because we're gaining as a team and in the next two or three races I hope to be right there."

While auto racing is supposed to be a non-contact sport, tonight's SunTrust Indy Challenge on the shortest track on the IRL schedule saw four Chevrolet drivers involved in incidents with other cars. It began on the ninth lap when Alex Barron, third in the preceding event, was forced into the Safer barrier.

"I was going into Turn 1 and the No. 55 car just drove up and pushed me into the wall," Barron reported. "It's a shame because we had such a good car. It was really early in the race to pull a move like that. I was holding my line, but obviously he wasn't."

Al Unser Jr. was the next retiree on Lap 119. "The Chevy engine was great, and the Firestone tires were consistent throughout the run," Unser said. "We just had handling problems. We haven't gotten the handling right all weekend, and in the race, we were a moving chicane. That is not the way we race, so I brought the car in."

On the 222nd lap, Mark Taylor's Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara tangled with Dario Franchitti's machine and spun on the backstretch. In the aftermath, Taylor's teammate Tomas Scheckter was squeezed into the outside wall, sustaining damage to the suspension of his Pennzoil Panther Racing Chevrolet Dallara. Scheckter had run in the top five from the moment the green flag fell, and was in position to make a bid for the victory.

"It's too bad we had to end this way," said Scheckter, who was credited with a 17th-place finish. "Everybody at Pennzoil and Chevrolet deserved a top-five finish, and it looked like we were going to get it. That's racing. The car was great all night and I was ready to make our final push to the front."

"It was a real struggle tonight," conceded Taylor. "We'd been having handling problems in the car all day, and were just trying to sort everything out. I'm not sure what happened. I didn't know where the car behind me was. It's unfortunate to finish this way, we were really hoping to get to the finish. The Menards/Johns Manville guys couldn't haven't worked any harder."

Running a strategic race, Ed Carpenter was poised for a top-10 finish when he had contact with Greg Ray's lapped car. His Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara car slowed on the front straight and Carpenter's race ended with a 16th-place finish. Before the incident, the rookie led his first lap in IndyCar Series competition.

"It was a stupid move that Greg Ray tried to pull," said Carpenter. "He was five laps down and should have just parked his car instead of taking me out of the race. He was driving recklessly and gave me a 16th-place finish when I had a car good enough to finish in seventh."

The IRL IndyCar Series will celebrate the Fourth of July in the heartland at the Argent Mortgage Kansas Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway circuit. The seventh round of the 16-race IndyCar Series will be televised live on ABC at 12:30 p.m. EDT.

-gm-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Dario Franchitti , Alex Barron , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing