IRL: Scott Sharp survives Motegi for the win

IRL: Scott Sharp survives Motegi for the win

MOTEGI, Japan (April 13, 2003) -- Scott Sharp won the Bridgestone Japan Indy 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi after leading the last 22 laps of the 200 lap race. Sharp became the frontrunner when Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon crashed while racing for the...

MOTEGI, Japan (April 13, 2003) -- Scott Sharp won the Bridgestone Japan Indy 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi after leading the last 22 laps of the 200 lap race. Sharp became the frontrunner when Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon crashed while racing for the lead.

Race winner Scott Sharp celebrates.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
Kanaan, who led the most laps, was transported by air to Dokkyo University School of Medicine Hospital in Tochigi, Japan for x-rays of his arm and leg. Dr. Geoffrey Billows of the Indy Racing League medical team reported that Kanaan suffered a radial fracture of the left arm. However, x-rays of his leg were negative. Dixon is being held for observation at the infield care center and is expected to be released soon.

Kanaan led six times for 70 laps while Dixon held the top spot early in the race, leading 45 laps.

Sharp's win was his eighth, tying him with Sam Hornish and Buddy Lazier for the most victories in series history. Sharp has now scored wins in seven consecutive seasons of Indy Racing League competition.

"I was really excited to come to Motegi after running so well at Homestead. There are a lot of similarities between the two tracks," said Sharp. "This is the kind of track that suits my style really well, and I enjoyed every lap of the race."

After assuming the lead, Sharp was never challenged by second place finisher Kenny Brack. A late charge by Brack allowed him to pass Felipe Giaffone but lapped traffic and a late accident between Jaques Lazier and Shinji Nakano, which caused the race to finish under caution, kept the Swede from mounting a challenge for victory.

"We ran out of laps at the end," Brack said. "I think we could have won had we had 10 more green laps because we were clearly fastest, but we had another yellow."

Giaffone finished third followed by Michael Andretti. Al Unser, in fifth, was the only other driver finishing on the lead lap.

Felipe Giaffone.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
High attrition due to accidents saw eleven cars active at the finish another eleven were involved in accidents.

"My car wasn't a top three car," said Giaffone. "Sometimes you don't have the best car, you just have to finish. Handling-wise, the car wasn't that bad. We were having gear problems. I lost fifth gear so it was really hard."

Rookie driver Dan Wheldon scored a career best seventh place finish. Wheldon replaced the injured Dario Franchitti in the No. 27 Andretti Green Racing entry for this race. Franchitti is expected to return to the No. 27 for Indianapolis 500 next month while Wheldon will drive the team's No. 26 entry sponsored by Jim Beam for the remainder of the season.

"Today was a great experience for me," said Wheldon. "I think for my first race it didn't go too bad. I certainly need to relay to the engineers how to get a better race car, because I was not expecting the track to change the way it did. I definitely enjoyed it and learned a lot. Now I have to concentrate on getting ready for the Indianapolis 500."

Opening day for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 is Sunday, May 4. For the first time in the history of the Indianapolis 500 a second race will be held during the month of May at the Speedway. The inaugural Freedom 100 is scheduled for two days of practice and qualifying on May 15-16 with the race scheduled for Saturday, May 17.

Kanaan fractures left arm in Motegi accident

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Michael Andretti , Jaques Lazier  , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam , Al Unser , Sam Hornis