The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on April 9, 2001 · Page 30
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 30

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Indianapolis, Indiana
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Monday, April 9, 2001
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Page 30
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NEXT TO BECK TOYOTA 1 MIX North of Qreanwood Park Mall 882-8473 LAFAYETTE MUNCIE TERRE HAUTE V I MM I mm pn Eg 5 s Fisher gets Salazar's respect with pass for second place By Curt Cavin STAFF WRITER HOMESTEAD, Fla. Sarah Fisher was all smiles Sunday. And In something of a remarkable turn, she was sitting next to Eliseo Sala-zar. Last year, that pairing wouldn't have made for good company. When Fisher spun in front of Sala-zar in a race at Las Vegas, he lashed out at her on national television, saying she wasn't ready for the Indy Racing League. The words stung. Now an IRL sophomore, Fisher got it right at Homestead-Miami Speedway. She kept her Walker Racing Dallara together for 300 miles on an oft-troublesome track and passed Salazar for second place on lap 189. Fisher nearly chased down Sam Hornish Jr. for the victory, finishing second in just her 10th start in a rear-engine car. She posted the best finish for a woman in an Indy-car race, bettering her third-place effort at Kentucky Speedway last August. She started seventh Sunday. Salazar was asked to update his feelings regarding the 20-year-old native of Commercial Point, Ohio. He did so with a congratulatory handshake and kinder words. "You might have a problem with your car, but someone has to have the talent to pass you," he said. Salazar said he was critical of Fisher because he feared drivers were coming into the IRL too young. But there was irony in that, too. Hornish is just nine months older than Fisher and the two combined are still younger than Salazar, who is 45. Fisher said she is a better driver than the one who spun at Las Vegas, even though she was in second place and Salazar in third at the time. "When you get into a race car, it takes a while to drive them," she said. "Plus, you have to learn to PGA Pro Larry Mize, former Masters Champion and 2nd Swing customer TO PUTTING TH E; RIG HT CLUB IN YQUR HANDS. EYENj If YQIJ HAVEN'T WQH THE MASTERS. Trade in your clubs, and trade up for a better game. Whether it's new or pre-swung, well find the right clubs for you. 2nd Swing. Buy. Sell. Trade up. pnd Swing It's not you. It's your clubs." Indianapolis Castleton Marketplace Castleton Corner Drive Next to Guitar Center Across from Golf Galaxy (317)578-3723 For directions and more, visit 2ndswing.com r f- race with the other guys and to tune the car. "I feel a lot more confident now. I know my boundaries." Lazier struggles Buddy Lazier's championship 2000 season went so well, he doesn't remember ever hitting the wall. That's because he didn't. "The last time was at Phoenix in 1999," his wife, Kara, said. "I remember because I was pregnant." Lazier's clean-wall streak ended Sunday when he crashed in the third turn of lap 176. He tried to duck in behind the passing Hornish, but he lost the air on his front wing and his new tires didn't stick as well as he expected. "My car had been loose in the center of the corners and it just got away from me," the 20th-place finisher said. "It was a tough day, the toughest I've had in a long time. I've got blisters on my hands, so I definitely had to work it." Notes Track president Curtis Gray said Sunday's crowd was larger than he expected for the first IRL race here. "From the naked eye, I'd say it looked close to (last year's CART race)," he said. That crowd was estimated at 30,000. No official crowd number was announced Sunday. . . . Pole sitter Jeff Ward was disappointed to finish fifth, a lap down to Hornish. "I wasn't bad by myself, but in traffic I was really loose," he said. ... In addition to Steve Knapp, several other unemployed drivers spent the weekend in the IRL paddock searching for a ride at Indy. Among them: Richie Hearn, P.J. Jones, John Paul Jr., Jimmy Kite, Donnie Beechler, Johnny Unser and Tyce Carlson, who has a team (Tri-Star) if he can land a sponsor. Call Curt Cavin at (317) 444-6409, e-mail at curt.cavinstarnews.com Castroneves gives fans a show After winning the race, he climbs a fence near the grandstands, delighting the crowd. By Mike Harris ASSOCIATED PRESS LONG BEACH, Calif. Before Helio Castroneves could climb another fence, he had to put one up. Castroneves fought off tenacious Cristiano da Matta lap after lap before finally coming away with a victory Sunday in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Brazilians put on a sensational show over the last half of the 82-lap race on the 1.968-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit, but da Matta the runaway winner of the season opener last month in Mexico couldn't make Castroneves flinch. 1 Helio Castroneves earned 22 points for the win. "Sometimes it's good when you are the hunter, but I was feeling pretty good because I was making no mistakes," said Castroneves, who celebrated his fourth career victory by stopping his car on the track in front of the pits, scrambling from the cockpit and climbing the steel fencing in front of the filled grandstand. The crowd roared as Castroneves gave them what they've come to expect after his wins lots of fist-pumping enthusiasm and, of course, his fence-climbing. "Some people only show their emotion when they are mad," Cas- Associated Press Michael Caulfield Smart driving: Helio Castroneves powers his way to victory at Long Beach, Calif. Said runnep-up Cristiano da Matta: "Helio's a smart guy. He always kept me on the outside." HORNISH Continued from Page 1 won the IRL's past three races and shows no sign of letting up. The team will also prepare Michael An-dretti's car for the Indy 500. "They've got it going, there's no doubt about it, and Sam has done a great Job," defending series champion Buddy Lazier said. "It's going to take a lot to catch them and even more to beat them." Said Eliseo Salazar, who finished third Sunday following a second at Phoenix: "In any other condition, we'd be in good shape, but we'll have to step it up. I have to admit: (Hornish) was very quick today." Hornish led Al Unser Jr. by nearly 11 seconds on lap 163 when Unser ran out of fuel. That left Hornish, who had led since lap 69, holding a 28-second advantage over second-place Salazar. When Greg Ray crashed three laps later to bring out the yellow flag, Homish's cushion evaporated. Then, on the ensuing pit stop, he released the clutch improperly and killed his engine. "It was a rookie mistake," the second-year IRL driver said. Hornish returned to the track in fourth place, seven cars behind Salazar. A driver with a lesser car might have folded. His team tried to calm him on the two-way radio. Hornish recovered in short order, passing two cars as the green flag waved. He might have had the lead sooner had Lazier not crashed on lap 177. As it was, Hornish had the first two cars Salazar and Sarah Fisher in his sight when the race restarted on lap 182. Hornish whipped around Fisher, who missed a shift at fourth gear, on the outside and two laps later took the same path around Salazar. The rest of the race was a Sunday drive, although Fisher, who finished a career-best second, cut his lead to 0.66 seconds in traffic. "We had a little bit more in reserve," Hornish said of his car amid Fisher's charge. "We were conserving the tires." Hornish even planned for his late-race passes of Salazar and Fisher. Earlier, when he was sailing along in the lead, he gradually CART Long Beach Grand Prix (Top finishers) Driver Car 1. Helio Castroneves R-H 2. Cristiano da Matta L-T 3. Gil de Ferran R-H 4. Paul Tracy R-H 5. Jimmy Vasser R-T 6. Dario Franchitti R-H 7. Tony Kanaan R-H 8. Bruno Junqueira L-T 9. Nicolas Minassian L-T 10. Bryan Herta R-F Chassis: R-Reynard, L-Lola Engines: H-Honda, T-Toyota, F-Ford Series Points leaders: Da Matta, 37; De Ferran, 30; Castroneves, 27; Tracy, 26; Vasser, 18. troneves said with a grin splitting his face. "I think you have to show your emotion when you're happy." All of his Championship Auto Racing Teams wins have come on street or road circuits and this one was certainly the toughest, with da Matta looming in his mirrors more than half the way. There was a lot of pressure," the winner said. "Sometimes you drive much better when you have pressure. That's what I felt." Castroneves earned the maximum 22 points for the weekend BESS '"7 ,H r - - " ' , 7. r'' r---7 Z " ,--:- I.. ' - M&fas..-.'.. ,.: -taw.-.. KDr RACING IfAGUf Infiniti Grand Prix (Top finishers) Driver Equipment 1. Sam Hornish Jr. DO 2. Sarah Fisher D-0 3. Eliseo Salazar D-0 4. Felipe Giaffone G-0 5. Jeff Ward G-0 6. Al Unser Jr. G-0 7. Mark Dismore DO 8. Scott Sharp D-0 9. Eddie Cheever D-l 10. Didier Andre G-0 Chassis: G-G-Force, D-Dallara Engines: O-Oldsmobile, l-lnfiniti Series points leaders: Hornish 104, Salazar 75, Giaffone 60, . Sharp 56, Ward 56. moved up the track to clean the outside lane of excess tire rubber. "I knew that was the place to pass, and I thought I might need it," he said. Hornish became only the fourth IRL driver to win consecutive races, and the first to win the first two in a season. In the standings, Hornish has a 29-point lead over Salazar with 1 1 races to go. "Basically, this was like; the Phoenix race," Hornish said. "And that win really gave me some more confidence going into this race." Ruttman won Indy in 1952. Hornish knows the pressure to make history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will grow as the series moves to Atlanta on April 28 and into May. He will try to subdue it. "Knowing that I should win. Indy I don't want to put that much pressure on myself," he said. "I know I should be competitive." Call Curt Cavin at (317) 444-6409, , e-mail at curt.cavinstamews.com one for winning the pole, 20 for taking the race and one for leading the most laps. In fact, he led every lap on the scenic downtown course, while first Kenny Brack and then da Matta stalked him all the way. After Brack's gearbox broke during a pit stop on lap 30. da Matta came out of the pits right behind Castroneves. Da Matta applied the pressure on just about every lap, but Castroneves was flawless. Several times, without success, the, second-place car made moves to get by at the end of the long, fast front straightaway. "The front straightaway is wide but it's pretty narrow going into turn one," da Matta said. "I didn't have a realistic chance to get around him. I couldn't get by him on the outside and he kept the inside line closed. I Just couldn't find room. "Helio's a smart guy. He always kept me on the outside. That was no good unless I made a crazy move with a 1 percent chance of success." The race was slowed by five full-course caution flags, including one that began on lap 76 after rookie Tora Takagi crashed into a tire barrier. That bunched the cars for one last restart on lap 79, but da Matta was unable to take advantage as Castroneves remained solidly in control to the end and the challenger had to protect his position from defending series champion Gil de Ferran, Castroneves' teammate. - "That yellow was good and it was bad," da Matta said. "I thought, 'Good, I'll have another shot at Helio on the restart.1 But then I realized I would alsohave the champion behind me. In the end, it made no difference."

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