IRL: Texas race won in the last turn

FORT WORTH, Texas, Sunday, June 11, 2000 -- Scott Sharp mashed his left foot on his right throttle foot through the final lap of the Casino Magic 500 on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, holding off Robby McGehee by 59-thousandths of a...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Sunday, June 11, 2000 -- Scott Sharp mashed his left foot on his right throttle foot through the final lap of the Casino Magic 500 on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, holding off Robby McGehee by 59-thousandths of a second to become the winningest driver in Indy Racing League history. Sharp held off a furious charge by McGehee to the checkered flag to score his fifth victory during his 34-race career in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. He broke a tie with Kenny Brack and Arie Luyendyk at four wins each. "It was awesome," Sharp said after doing a victory spin with his Delphi Automotive Systems/MCI WorldCom Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone in the infield grass in front of a standing, loudly appreciative crowd. "That was a great race. I was all out every time, the whole (final) lap. When you're out there wide open, there's not much you can do." The margin of victory was the closest ever in Indy Racing, topping the 64-thousandths of a second by Robbie Buhl over Vincenzo Sospiri at New Hampshire in 1997. Sharp earned $124,300 and the Foyt-Rutherford Trophy for the victory in a race postponed by rain Saturday night. His average speed was 169.182 mph, a series record. McGehee, driver of the Mall.com G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, blasted up on Sharp's tail after a late restart and even snatched the lead by a nose on Lap 202. On the final lap, they raced side-by-side out of Turn 2 and McGehee, 1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year, actually edged ahead by a half car length. But Sharp, holding the inside lane, refused to budge, carried his car deep into Turn 3 and came out for the final dash to the finish line with a slim but sufficient lead. "I wasn't really worried with five or six to go, but he (McGehee) got a run on me, and he came up," Sharp said. "And if he had 2 or 3 more feet, he would have got by me. I got in the corner and drove it in deep and said, 'If you come down on me, we're both going to wreck.' But he raced me clean, and I raced him clean, and it was just a great race." Sharp's final lap speed was 208.527 mph, McGehee's 208.552. "When I passed Buzz (Calkins), I said I was going to get Sharp," McGehee said. "Getting him and passing him were two different things. I probably made a mistake. I should have done everything I could to get the inside lane. "It was the most exciting racing I've ever been involved in." There were 31 lead changes at the start-finish line during the race, a series record. There were also countless lead changes on other parts of the track between drivers. Fuel mileage paid a huge dividend for Sharp. Some of the front-runners, including two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., made their final pit stops under green. But Sharp, teammate Mark Dismore, Calkins and McGehee continued on. As it came time for Sharp to pit, Jeff Ward's engine expired, bringing out the yellow caution flag. This removed Unser and Scott Goodyear from the mix, although they were able to finish third and fifth, respectively. "We were just getting outstanding fuel mileage," Sharp said. "We got really lucky by hanging out there." The race was stopped due to rain for 36 minutes, 48 seconds after 19 laps. This event was a sprint race for the entire 312 miles. Front-running cars ran side by side in clusters of 10 or 12 from start to finish. There wasn't a single accident during the race, and the only cautions were for rain and three engine problems. Buddy Lazier, who put on a terrific duel with fellow Indianapolis 500 winners Unser and Eddie Cheever Jr., came home seventh after running out of fuel and coasting in for his final stop. Cheever also was victimized by an empty fuel tank and finished ninth. Lazier retained his lead in the chase for the Northern Light Cup with 164 points, followed by Goodyear with 142 and Cheever with 126. The next Indy Racing Northern Light Series event is the Radisson Indy 200 on June 18 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Kenny Brack , Vincenzo Sospiri