FORT WORTH, Texas - Buddy Lazier finished fourth in the Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway today, but he finished first in the race for the $1 million Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship with Hemelgarn Racing's Oldsmobile-powered...
FORT WORTH, Texas - Buddy Lazier finished fourth in the Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway today, but he finished first in the race for the $1 million Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship with Hemelgarn Racing's Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. Scott Goodyear made his last drive in Pennzoil Panther Racing's Oldsmobile Dallara a memorable one, scoring his first victory of the season and securing second place in the championship points. And for the fourth consecutive season, Oldsmobile engines swept the IRL Manufacturer, Driver, Team, and Rookie championships.
Lazier parlayed two victories and six Top Four finishes into his first championship. He raced with his characteristic intensity in Texas, running wheel-to-wheel with title rivals Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr. Lazier led 38 laps before a late-race pit stop took him out of contention for the victory.
"I had a car that was capable of winning," said Lazier. "We didn't take any huge chances until we knew we had the championship."
The race pace was fast and furious. The first 67 laps were run under green flag conditions, and only four caution periods slowed the action. The 175.276 mph average speed for the 208-lap race was the fastest in IRL history.
Lazier's team owner Ron Hemelgarn credited Speedway Engine Development for providing the power to win the title. "Rick Long and his crew build an engine that will last," said Hemelgarn. "After he gets the reliability he pours on the horsepower. We're getting more power out of the Oldsmobile engine, and that's helped us step up our program."
Goodyear led a total of 39 laps, taking the lead for the final time on the last lap when he passed Cheever in Turn 3. "My guys gave me a good car and I just kept my foot on the pedal and went racing," said Goodyear after his third career IRL victory.
Billy Boat started 22nd and finished third using an Oldsmobile engine provided by Panther Racing. Airton Dare won the Rookie of the Year award with a 12th place finish.
The 2001 IRL season will begin March 18 in Phoenix.
<pre> RACE SUMMARY: Track: Texas Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile oval Winner: Scott Goodyear, Pennzoil Panther Racing Oldsmobile Dallara Margin of Victory: 0.140 seconds Average Speed: 175.276 mph
Top Five Finishers: Pos./Driver/Engine Laps 1. Scott Goodyear/Oldsmobile 208 2. Eddie Cheever Jr./Infiniti 208 3. Billy Boat/Oldsmobile 208 4. Buddy Lazier/Oldsmobile 208 5. Eliseo Salazar/Oldsmobile 207
Pole: Greg Ray/Oldsmobile, 215.352 mph Fastest Lap: Jaques Lazier/Oldsmobile, 216.205 mph
Manufacturer Results: Oldsmobile Infiniti Laps Led 180 28 Starters 25 2 Running at Finish 14 1
POINT STANDINGS: (After 9 of 9 events) Driver/Engine Wins Points 1. Buddy Lazier/Olds 2 290 2. Scott Goodyear/Olds 1 272 3. Eddie Cheever/Infiniti 1 257 4. Eliseo Salazar/Olds 0 210 5. Mark Dismore/Olds 0 202 (tie) Donnie Beechler 0 202
Manufacturer Wins Points 1. Oldsmobile 8 94 2. Nissan 1 66
NEXT RACE: Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix, March 18, 2001