RICHMOND, Virginia (June 28, 2003)--Rain was the determining factor in the outcome of tonight's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway when the race was red flagged on lap 206 due to precipitation. Kelley Racing drivers Scott...
RICHMOND, Virginia (June 28, 2003)--Rain was the determining factor in the outcome of tonight's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway when the race was red flagged on lap 206 due to precipitation. Kelley Racing drivers Scott Sharp and Al Unser Jr. had mixed results on the ¾-mile oval with Unser Jr. working his way as high as fifth place until contact with Tomas Scheckter damaged his front wing and he had to return to the pits on lap 71 to replace his damaged front wing. After the contact and pit stop, Unser Jr. returned to the track but wasn't able to get back to the front of the pack. Unser Jr. finished the night in 10th place. Sharp didn't fare as well this evening. Sharp started this evening in 17th place and was working hard with a loose car to stay on the lead lap. After his first pit stop, Sharp's luck didn't improve as the fuel nozzle malfunctioned and he had to return to the pits on the next lap to complete his fueling. Sharp continued to fight to get his lap back but bad luck seemed to win out this evening as he eventually finished the race two laps down in 17th place. The race was set to run 250 laps but on lap 204 heavy rains began to fall and the race was then red flagged on lap 206. Scott Dixon, who led every lap of the race, was the race winner, while Helio Castroneves finished second and Gil deFerran finished third. Tony Kanaan is still the IndyCar Series points leader with 247 points, while Scott Dixon is now in second with 220 points and Helio Castroneves is in third with 207 points.
Kelley Racing will now return to their shop in Indianapolis and prepare for their next event that will be next Sunday, July 6 in Kansas City, Kansas.
Al Unser Jr. -- #31 Corteco/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone
"I'm just really proud of my guys. The Corteco car was running great at the beginning of the race and we had worked our way up towards the front. We made our pit stop and gained spots on our pit stop, again, and then unfortunately Scheckter spun in front of me and clipped my wing and that put me in the back of the queue when I got back on the track. We just never could get the car back again and get back through the field. But I'm just super proud of my guys. They prepared a great race car, they had great pit stops, and it was just a misfortune that our wing got clipped when we were in such a strong position."
Scott Sharp -- #8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone
"Tonight was a really tough night for the Delphi team. We struggled and I don't think we've ever been in a situation before where we started out the weekend third in the first practice and then went steadily downhill throughout the race weekend like we did here this weekend. We made some changes to the car for the race, thinking we were going in the right direction but by lap 25, I had a very loose car so I was just hanging on from that standpoint. We were just unlucky at times; the leaders lapped us, the yellow came out right after we pitted and on my first pit stop there was a problem with the fuel nozzle so I had to come right back in on the next lap. It was just a tough weekend all the way around."
Al Unser Jr. Fast Facts
* Today was Unser Jr.'s third start at Richmond International Raceway, his 315th career start and his 42nd IRL start.
*Unser Jr. is fifth in the IndyCar Series points standings with 187 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
*Today was 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 in seventh place in the IndyCar Series with 162 points.
*Sharp's victory in April at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan was his eighth career victory.