Lucky Lazier Wins At RIR
June 30, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Luck was on Lazier’s side however, as a late race crash between Eliseo Salazar and Eddie Cheever Jr. handed the lead back to Lazier. It was the defending IRNLS champion’s second consecutive win this season.
"This is one of the most physically demanding races I've run," Lazier said. "I'm beat. We picked up a lot of momentum. This is two weeks in a row. I can't believe it. It's an amazing day."
Current points leader Sam Hornish Jr. finished second while Al Unser Jr., Didier Andre and Scott Sharp rounded out the Top 5.
Lazier dominated the early portions of the race taking the lead on the first lap with a bold move around his brother Jacques, the pole sitter, and the second place qualifier Sarah Fisher.
He held that lead until an incident involving Felipe Giaffone and Airton Dare brought out a yellow flag late in the race. Lazier led the field into the pits but missed his pit stall and had to drive through and re-join the field. He came back around and pitted the next lap but lost the lead to Salazar and Cheever.
The incident between the two new lead cars came as they battled for the top position. Salazar took the outside line and tried to hold the position as Cheever nosed underneath him. Their wheels then touched sending both drivers into the wall.
“I got up beside him coming out of two,” Cheever explained. “He went up high, I was using the bottom line and he just turned down. There was no place for him to go, no place for me to go - but I defiantly had enough room. Anyway, the tapes will tell us what happened.”
It wasn’t a good day to start in the front row as both Jacques Lazier and Fisher crashed out early.
Lazier never recovered from his bad start and visited the wall fifteen laps into the event.
“It’s a bull ring out there,” He said after climbing from the car. “Everybody is going as hard as they can. We came into lapped traffic, I thought I had room on the outside, got back into the gas and then all of a sudden I just felt a bump in my left rear. I don’t know if I didn’t give the guy enough room or what but I thought I was clear, I was on the exit of the corner and just got spun around.”
Fisher, who nearly won her first pole on Friday, struggled with grip problems on the very slick three-quarter mile oval. The sophomore driver ended up hard in the wall on lap 107 after she couldn’t hold onto the car.
A large crowd was on hand at RIR, the smallest track the IRNLS has ever held an event on. It was the 50th race in IRNLS history, a milestone for the six-year-old series. Besides the race, Lazier also led the series’ 10,000th lap, an honor that earned him a bonus $10,000.