Iracingone Replay:/I IRNLS 2000/Ibrlazier A Step Closer To Title

Heading into the next to last race in 2000, Indy Racing Northern Light Series driver Scott Goodyear was sitting pretty.

He was third in the point standings, just 33 points behind leader Buddy Lazier. During qualifications at Kentucky Speedway, Goodyear turned in a 219.191 mph lap around the 1.5-mile oval, good for the pole and three bonus points. Lazier qualified seventh.

On race day, Goodyear led the most laps -- earning him two more bonus points -- of the inaugural Belterra Resort Indy 300 and finished second.

For all his effort, Goodyear left Sparta, Ky., 38 points out of the points lead. Lazier, you see, was hooked up and came from the seventh starting position to win his second race of the season, becoming the first repeat winner in eight races.

"I'm just thrilled; this was just what I needed," Lazier said. "This doesn't mean we've got the championship won. We don't have it won, but we've got the advantage.

"The championship is really important to us. We got six weeks to think about (the last race), so I’m not sure how we’ll handle that yet. It’s just good to get this win today."

With just one race left in the season, Lazier led Goodyear 258 to 220. Eddie Cheever Jr. finished fourth but dropped to third in the point standings, three points behind Goodyear. Going into the season finale, they were the only drivers mathematically capable of winning the IRNLS title and the $1 million bonus that goes along with it.

Although the Belterra Resort Indy 300 went a long way toward deciding the championship, it may have been the young drivers that came out as winners.

Rookie Sarah Fisher scored her first podium finish by coming home third behind Lazier and Goodyear.

"It’s a close finish and all of my hometown fans were able to see me," said Fisher, 20, who is from Commercial Point, Ohio. "We came in really looking for our first top 10 finish so this is going to give us a big boost of confidence.

"We’re very happy with how we ran today and where we ended up."

Sam Hornish Jr., another rookie, led three times for 38 laps and finished ninth. Hornish and second-year driver Jaques Lazier provided one of the race’s highlights when they battled side by side for the lead from lap 93 to 103. Jaques Lazier, the younger brother of Buddy Lazier, was able to lead eight laps during the dual.

Fourth-year driver Jimmy Kite, 24, led 16 laps at Kentucky, and rookie Shigeaki Hattori scored his third top-10 finish in four races when he crossed the finish line in eighth place. Another rookie, Jeret Schroeder, charged from sixth to second on the opening lap before tangling with then-race-leader Eliseo Salazar, causing the only accident of the day.

The young guns impressed Buddy Lazier, who at 33 is one of the series veterans.

"They're all young, hungry and talented," he said.

Eventual rookie of the year Airton Dare finished 19th and Al Unser Jr. got caught up in the Salazar-Schroeder accident on the second lap, relegating him to a last-place finish.

Next week, RacingOne takes a look at the 2000 season finale at Texas Motor Speedway, site of the closest finish in IRNLS history in June when Scott Sharp held off Robby McGehee by .059 seconds.

  • Race winner: Buddy Lazier, second win of season
  • Pole winner: Scott Goodyear
  • Most laps led: Scott Goodyear, 65 of 200
  • Cautions: Four for 28 laps

    Point Standings:
    Buddy Lazier, 258
    Scott Goodyear, 220
    Eddie Cheever, 217
    Mark Dismore, 186
    Eliseo Salazar, 180
    Scott Sharp, 179
    Robbie Buhl, 178
    Donnie Beechler, 174
    Al Unser Jr. 173
    Robby McGehee, 168
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