RICHMOND, Virginia (June 27, 2003)--- Today was a busy day for the Kelley Racing drivers at the Richmond International Raceway. As normal for a two-day event, drivers Scott Sharp and Al Unser Jr. both participated in two practice sessions and...
RICHMOND, Virginia (June 27, 2003)--- Today was a busy day for the Kelley Racing drivers at the Richmond International Raceway. As normal for a two-day event, drivers Scott Sharp and Al Unser Jr. both participated in two practice sessions and then qualified for tomorrow nights SunTrust Indy Challenge. The qualifying conditions were a bit unusual this afternoon when at the halfway point in qualifying a short rainstorm soaked the track, delaying qualifying for almost an hour. The drivers in the latter part of the qualifying group felt the track got much faster after the rain but unfortunately that didn't play in the favor of Kelley Racing. Drivers Unser Jr. and Sharp qualified 17th and 18th respectively despite the fact Sharp qualified before the rain, and Unser Jr. after. The drivers will return to the track late this evening for a final warm-up session and the green flag for the SunTrust Indy Challenge will drop Saturday at 8:00 p.m. EDT with the 250-lap race set to air live on ESPN.
Al Unser Jr. -- #31 Corteco/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone
"The track was very, very fast in fact it was faster than it was this afternoon and there was no wind. I didn't build up the way I should have built up for this qualifying run and I ended up right about where I ended up in practice. It's a shame because the conditions this afternoon were perfect for qualifying and the track was really, really fast. The key to tomorrow night is just surviving. I'll prepare for tomorrow night like I do for any other race and we'll just hope for the best."
Scott Sharp -- #8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone
"We were really tight with the car this afternoon and it's just a shame because I really thought we might be able to stretch it with the cooler temperatures this afternoon and put together a better run than we had in practice. The car was really tight and in the exit of Turn two on my final lap I almost hit the fence and had to back way off the throttle. Hopefully we'll be able to get it right tomorrow. The track is constantly changing and the weather took a big turn this afternoon and the grip level is different but I don't think that had any effect on us this afternoon. We'll just see what happens tomorrow night."
Al Unser Jr. Fast Facts
This will be Unser Jr.'s third start at Richmond International Raceway, his 315th career start and his 42nd IRL start.
Unser Jr. is currently fifth in the IndyCar Series points standings with 167 points.
Unser Jr. has two top-five finishes at RIR. He finished third in 2001 and fifth in 2002.
His victory on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway was his third IndyCar Series victory and his 34th career victory.
Unser Jr. has won two Indianapolis 500's (1992, 1994) and two open-wheel championships (1990, 1994).
Scott Sharp Fast Facts
This will be Sharp's third start at Richmond International Raceway, his 73rd career start and his sixth season with Kelley Racing. In 2001, he started tenth and finished fifth, while in 2002 he started sixth and finished 21st after an accident.
Sharp is currently in seventh place in the IndyCar Series with 149 points.
Sharp's victory in April at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan was his eighth career victory.