March 19, 2000
The INDY 200 at Phoenix
The race began well with Greg Ray on the pole. Yesterday, Ray squeezed out a fast lap of 20.389 seconds, 176.566 mph in the Conseco-Menards Dallara on the 1-mile oval to earn his first MBNA Pole Award of the season and fifth career pole.
The race started clean, but then at lap 30, there was a run of slides into the wall. First, Robby McGee slid in while leading. Soon after the restart Buzz Calkins hit the wall with the rear of his car . This sent him to the hospital. Rookie Airton Dare hit the wall next. Then Greg Ray and Bobby Regester slid out together, maybe there was some contact.
Al Unser, in his 2nd IRL start, took the lead from Stephan Gregoire with 71 laps to go. Unfortunately for them and Robbie Buhl, another yellow came out right after they finished pitting with 35 laps to run. This moved them back to the back of the pack of all the guys still on the lead lap!
Buddy Lazier inherited the lead and led Scott Goodyear to the finish to win his third victory.
Buddy had really appeared as an underdog at the beginning of the race. They had qualified poorly, and then, decided to switch to the new backup car. This meant he had to start from last position.
"We couldn't do anything with the primary car," Lazier said. "I have to tell you I was frightened in the car, and I don't normally frighten easily.
"My guys did a great job. Ron (Hemelgarn, team owner) made the decision to roll out the backup car, and the guys worked through the night. We started last. I can't believe we can come through the field like that from last to first."
Buddy was sick all week, but he ended it smiling.
This race set the tracks record for having the most different leaders, 8.
They displayed their new paint scheme and it reminded me of the beautiful McLaren.
Eddie Cheever's new car -------------->
He has also switched to a new Dallara chassis from a R&S.
February 2000 Racing News Headlines
1999 Indy 500 Champion, Kenny Brack, has left the IRL and A.J. Foyt's team. He is replacing Bryan Herta at Bobby Rahal's racing team in CART. He still hopes to return to Indy in May and defend his title! We'll sure miss watching him race at the other IRL events, but he's got a lot of talent and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in F1 one day soon.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. was cut from Team Penske at the end of the CART season after a losing streak. He is joining Galles Racing and will run the entire 2000 IRL schedule. Valvoline will be a partial sponsor. Valvoline has apparently pulled out of their sponsorship of Walker Racing's CART team (Walker reportedly will run IRL as well this year). We haven't seen Valvoline at Indy in a few years. So it looks kind of like an old reunion for Little Al. He'll also be racing against two of his cousins who are currently in the IRL: Johnny Unser and Robbie Unser. Yikes! Have we ever had 3 Unsers in the same 500? Click here for the answer!