Unser Jr. fights to fifth place finish for Corteco/Bryant at Richmond, Sharp and Delphi team night ends early RICHMOND, VA -- June 29, 2002 -- Al Unser Jr. fought his way from the 13th starting place to score a solid fifth place finish in the...
Unser Jr. fights to fifth place finish for Corteco/Bryant at Richmond, Sharp and Delphi team night ends early
RICHMOND, VA -- June 29, 2002 -- Al Unser Jr. fought his way from the 13th starting place to score a solid fifth place finish in the Sun Trust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway, race number eight of the 15 event Indy Racing League (IRL) schedule. In two IRL starts at the tight ¾ mile Virginia oval, Unser Jr. has two scored two top five finishes.
Scott Sharp, starting the Kelley Racing Delphi Chevrolet Dealer in sixth position, finished a disappointing 21st after hitting the turn four wall on lap 40 of the 250 lap race.
"This is another great run for the Corteco/Bryant team," said Unser Jr. "The guys prepared a great car for me and we were very competitive. We just weren't able to capitalize on other people's mistakes. It was another Saturday Night Fight at Richmond and I loved every lap of it!"
Unser Jr. finished only 2.8 seconds behind race winner Sam Hornish, Jr.
"I want to thank everyone at Kelley Racing for the great support," Unser continued. "I love racing at Richmond. It is challenging for me as a driver and gives my crew the opportunity to shine by setting up a great race car and having awesome pit stops. The fans are the best at Richmond. I want to thank them for their continued support as well. I can hardly wait to come back here again."
Patience was the key to Unser Jr.'s march to the front of the field. He waited for the right opportunities to make his passes, using lapped traffic to his advantage.
"You have to be patient on a short track like Richmond," concluded Unser Jr. "It doesn't make sense to take chances early in the race that could have hurt our opportunity for a good finish. With all the yellows tonight, the rhythm of the race kept changing. Keeping focused is so important to get a good restart. It was just a good run for us."
Sharp had worked his way up to fourth and was challenging for third when his chase was interrupted by lapped traffic. The yellow flag flew on lap 30 and Sharp pitted for tires and fuel on lap 34 under yellow. The race went green on lap 38 and as the field hit full speed racing hard, the car got away from Sharp on lap 40 ending his night.
"The Delphi car was running really well," said Sharp. "It was starting to get a little loose when the yellow came out so I came in the pits and had a fresh set of tires put on the car for longevity. I went back out, the race went green and I started to get on the gas in turn three and it just went. I feel bad for the whole Delphi team.
"It is really hard to get the right setup here at Richmond. The track changes so much from practice to race and even changes throughout the race. The air temperature is different too, so teams really have to guess when it came to their setup for tonight's race. The team with the best guess will win the race. We had a good car and a good setup, just not a good finish."
Unser Jr. maintains his fifth place in the season points championship race, 86 points behind leader Helio Castroneves. Sharp maintained the ninth points position.
The next event for Kelley Racing teams is the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on July 7 at Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kansas.