Sharp Motegi Survivor
April 13, 2003 | 8:12 A.M. EST
"We improved the car’s balance throughout the day, and we were really fast when it mattered,” said Sharp. “There was a lot of stuff that happened right in front of me, but the man above was looking out for me.
"I knew we had to get to the finish. In a lot of these races, the competition is so close. We’re running just inches apart at times, but you have to get to the end to have a chance to make a run for the win."
Today’s win is the second for Toyota in three IndyCar Series events. Toyota-powered drivers have now captured seven of the nine top-three finishing positions in the season’s first three races. Dating back to last season’s CART competition, Toyota has now won 12 of its last 22 races.
The quickest car on the track in the closing green flag laps, Kenny Brack came within just a handful of circuits of giving Honda its first victory at Twin Ring Motegi. But a collision involving Shinji Nakano and Jaques Lazier on Lap 194 ended Brack’s chances, as the race ended under the caution flag after the scheduled 200 laps.
Tony Kanaan was injured in a two-car accident on Lap 178 of the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 while battling Scott Dixon for the lead. Kanaan was airlifted to Dokkyo University Hospital where X-rays showed a radial fracture of his left arm according to Dr. Geoffrey Billows of the IRL Medical Staff. X-rays on his right leg proved negative. Kanaan was released from the hospital Sunday evening and is flying to Indianapolis for further treatment.
After back-to-back top-three finishes at Homestead and Phoenix, Helio Castroneves saw his day come to an early conclusion. The two-time defending Indy 500 winner was collected in a spin by rookie Roger Yasukawa approximately a quarter of the way through the race while running in the top five. Despite the early retirement, Castroneves is still fifth in points.
The IRL IndyCar Series season continues with Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25th. Practice opens at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 4 with the first day of qualifications on Saturday, May 10.