RICHMOND, Va., June 30 - Jeret Schroeder saw a top-10 finish and maybe even a top-five finish evaporate Saturday night in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway when engine problems struck his Tri Star Motorsports ...
RICHMOND, Va., June 30 - Jeret Schroeder saw a top-10 finish and maybe even a top-five finish evaporate Saturday night in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway when engine problems struck his Tri Star Motorsports Dallara/Olds/Firestone #6 on lap 127. The popular driver from Vineland, N.J., ended up 16th in the final rundown for the inaugural Indy Racing Northern Light Series race at this track and the series' first appearance ever at a track shorter than a mile.
Buddy Lazier won the race over Sam Hornish Jr. and Al Unser Jr. Schroeder started to the outside of Unser in row six and he ran right behind the eventual third-place finisher for a good portion of the race before his engine problems developed. Schroeder was running tenth by lap three, and he ran as high as eighth. When he pitted four laps before his engine trouble occurred, he was tenth.
"We were just trying to be patient, work on the balance of the car, stay out of trouble and have a good car at the end,â^À^Ý Schroeder said. "But on the restart for Sarah Fisher's accident, when I got on the gas the motor just shut off coming out of turn three.â^À^Ý
That was on lap 127, two laps after the halfway point. The safety crew towed the car back to the pits, where the Tri Star crew inspected it, changed its battery and sent Schroeder back on his way. Schroeder noted that something went "click-clickâ^À^Ý in the rear of the car when he came into the pits, and unfortunately the problems weren't over.
"The car didn't sound right when I went down pit road, and I never made it back on the track,â^À^Ý Schroeder said. "Something in the motor let go, I spun and backed into the inside wall. I'm OK, but I do have a headache.â^À^Ý
Initially it was suspected that a piece of debris from Fisher's accident might have gotten lodged in the air scoop of Schroeder's car to cause the initial loss of power, but that idea was thrown out upon further examination in the garage area.
"I think the mark they saw on the air scoop was caused by the bar and the rope that the safety crew used to tow me back in,â^À^Ý Schroeder said. "There was a problem with it, and one of the safety crew members got a bad bruise because of that, too.â^À^Ý
Due to the small size of the track, the Tri Star Motorsports team brought in some excellent spotters to help this weekend: drivers Tyce Carlson and Doug Didero. Schroeder was up to tenth by lap three and he made a great move to miss polesitter Jaques Lazier's accident on lap 15 on the frontstretch near turn four and Fisher's crash in almost the same spot on lap 111.
Although a lack of sponsorship remains a problem, Schroeder expects to compete in the next IRL race on July 8 in Kansas City, Kan.