Lazier Lights Up Nashville
July 21, 2001 | 8:00 P.M. EST
Don’t tell that to Buddy Lazier, who took advantage of everyone else’s mistakes, made some risky passes and dodged a major mid-race crash to win the Harrah's Indy 200 Saturday night to become the winningest driver in IRNLS history.
And don’t tell that to his younger brother Jacques Lazier, who moved up the field from a 14th-place starting position to fifth in the first 50 laps and finished third behind Billy Boat.
“When it gets slippery it’s our kind of race track and it was real slippery out there, but it was a tough battle,” said Buddy Lazier, who led 71 laps. “What a great place to go racing in front of a sell-out crowd here. This team and I have been together for a long time… There’s a lot of experience on this team and we’ve been doing it for a while and it’s starting to pay off."
Robby McGehee finished fourth, followed by Scott Sharp, who moved into the Top 5 from a 13th-place start. Sam Hornish Jr. finished sixth after leading 86 of the 200 laps.
Hornish looked as though he had the car to beat when he passed Lazier on Lap 20 and held it for a big lead, but then lost it to Lazier again on Lap 52. A caution tightened the field two laps later and allowed Hornish to move back in front, only to later lose it for good when his Panther Racing crew needed a long pit stop to fix problem with the fuel injector halfway through the race.
"The car was really fast,” Hornish said. “The Pennzoil Panther guys did a great job. We were better in traffic and had a faster car, but we just didn't have any luck. We had a problem with the fuel injector. It's the second injector that's gone bad on us this year - one at Richmond and here. It wasn't something that would keep us from finishing, but when you go from 197, 199 mph to 187, people are going to start passing you in a hurry. I know I would have had him (Buddy) today."
Shigeaki Hattori finished seventh, tying his career high, and Felipe Giaffone finished eighth, his ninth Top 10 finish in 10 races this year. Buzz Calkins finished ninth and Donnie Beechler finished 10th.
Pole winner Greg Ray struggled right from the start and led only the first seven laps before Lazier passed him. Ray went a lap down on Lap 43 and was then caught up in a five-car accident at the halfway point of the race and finished 18th.
There were 12 lead changes among six drivers, which caused the field to shake and stir throughout the race. Of the Top 5 drivers at the end, only Boat started there.
Buddy Lazier is the hottest driver on the IRNLS circuit, with five top-five finishes and three wins in the past five races. With the win Lazier, the defending IRNLS champion, is now 40 points behind current points leader Hornish. Sharp is third, 95 points behind Hornish.
"We're going to do everything we can (to win the championship)," Lazier said. "The Pennzoil Panther team, Sam Hornish, they've had a great season. But there are still five races left, and we're going to give it everything we've got. This team is starting to pick up a lot of momentum."