Jarrett wins IROC at Indy flag to flag; Harvick clinches title. INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2002 -- Dale Jarrett led all 40 laps to win the fifth annual IROC at Indy race Aug. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while Kevin Harvick...
Jarrett wins IROC at Indy flag to flag; Harvick clinches title.
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2002 -- Dale Jarrett led all 40 laps to win the fifth annual IROC at Indy race Aug. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while Kevin Harvick finished fifth to clinch the True Value International Race of Champions season title.
NASCAR Winston Cup Series star Jarrett, who started second, took the lead from pole sitter Ken Schrader on the back straightaway of Lap 1 and never trailed thereafter, beating two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves to the finish by .380 of a second.
"It was a great race car," Jarrett said. "We raced very hard in it. It's pretty nice. I knew it was important to get my car out front, and I fought (Ken) Schrader as hard as I could there on that first lap, trying to get the lead. I knew the car was going to tighten up later on, and if I could get out front, I'd have a better chance."
Schrader finished third, while Indy Racing League star Buddy Lazier finished fourth in the race featuring 11 top drivers from various motorsports series driving identically prepared stock cars.
Harvick, the series points leader entering the race, started last in the 11-car field but climbed to fifth by Lap 10. He captured the title with 54 points, becoming the first driver representing the NASCAR Busch Series to win the season title. Harvick also is the sixth IROC rookie to win the title and the first since Ricky Rudd in 1992.
"I paid a lot of attention to it the last couple of weeks, and there were a lot of different scenarios in my head," Harvick said. "The racer in me wanted to pass Buddy, but the smart thing to do was to just stay behind him and not force the issue. I got up under him a couple of times, and he came down, and I didn't really a point I needed to make to pass him.
"We just tried to play it as smart as we could and look at the big picture."
Ten of the 11 drivers in the field had a mathematical chance at winning the title. But Harvick's closest pursuer in the field, third-place Tony Stewart, finished last. He pulled off the track with handling problems after 30 laps on the 2.5-mile oval.
Stewart slipped to sixth in the final point standings. Lazier ended up second in points with 49. Jarrett was third with 49, as Lazier won the tie-breaker for second based on the best average finish in the four-race series.
Castroneves pulled to within .150 of a second of Jarrett on Lap 15, but Jarrett extended his lead to .241 of a second on Lap 19.
That lead grew to .460 of a second on Lap 25. But Castroneves made a final charge toward Jarrett on Lap 27, closing the gap to .295 of a second.
Jarrett then pulled away to a lead of .410 of a second on Lap 33 and was never challenged again.