Lazier Takes Harringtons Mid-America Seat
August 14, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
"Actually Jaques’ been somebody I’ve been looking at all year," said Didero, who plans on running Lazier in the season’s final two races and next year as a teammate to Scott Harrington. "Jaques was one of the first drivers I contacted when the seat became available.
"It took him about 15 minutes to make up his mind."
Lazier will be filling in for Scott Harrington, who is out for the rest of the year after being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Indianapolis on Aug. 5. The arrest was Harrington’s third DUI in eight months. Harrington is undergoing counseling for his alcohol problems, Didero said, and will drive for the team next year if he’s medically cleared by the IRNLS.
In the interim, Didero continues to search for the perfect driver-team combination that will add up to his first win in his first full season as an IRNLS car owner. And he believes Lazier is a vital part of the equation.
"There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be wining races, and this is one of the stepping stones," said Didero, who started the season with cousin Doug behind the wheel of the Dallara/Aurora. "I think Jaques' the next one up on the podium. He’s a very talented race car driver. He doesn’t overdrive and he knows how to pace himself, and that’s what I was looking for in a driver."
Lazier finished fourth in the rookie of the year battle last year while competing in just seven of the 10 races. This year, Lazier is 20th in the point standings and has two top-10 finishes in five races with Truscelli Team Racing and owner Joe Truscelli. However the team hasn’t raced since Pikes Peak in June and Didero made his bid for Lazier last week.
Next week, Lazier will be behind the wheel in practice for the inaugural Belterra Resort Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Florence, Ken.
"This race is for him and I to gell," Didero said. "Basically, we need to be accustomed to each other.
"The expectation for Kentucky is to finish in the top 10. Texas, I would say it’s going for the win definitely. We need it as a race team. It’s been a real tough go. We’ve definitely had a tough season. Tougher than most teams."
Tough, indeed. Besides Doug Didero’s departure and Harrington’s arrest, there’s the mediocre race results. The team’s best finish is 14th at the season-opener at Walt Disney World. After that, it’s been almost all downhill.
"We’re looking for good things with Jaques," Didero said. "Dallara’s really helping me out a lot. They know what I’ve been going through in the last few weeks."
Didero is hoping Dallara’s engineering expertise will help offset the team’s inexperience on the track because the team didn’t take part in the open test at Kentucky in July. Lazier could help in that area, too, Didero said.
"The good thing about Jacques is that he’s pretty good about getting used to a race track," he said. "And he’s got a brother (points leader Buddy Lazier) that can give him some pointers.
"I’m hoping we go into Kentucky and show everybody we’re for real."