Fontana flashback: Hornish by a nose over Jaques Lazier in 2002

0 Comments

In the spring of 2002, the Indy Racing League (now the IZOD IndyCar Series) played to an mostly empty house for its inaugural run at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. But for those who did choose to see what the IRL’s brand of then-all oval racing was about, they were treated to a tremendous show at the two-mile oval.

Eight drivers swapped the lead 39 times in the Yamaha Indy 400, which came down to a wheel-to-wheel battle on the final lap between Chevy-powered drivers Sam Hornish Jr. of Panther Racing (pictured) and Jaques Lazier of Team Menard.

Leading up to their duel, Eddie Cheever Jr. had been in the mix as well, constantly stalking Lazier on the high side while running in second. But on Lap 191 of 200, Cheever’s powerful Infiniti engine let go in Turn 2 and the stage was set for Hornish and Lazier to settle things.

Hornish used the draft to catch up to Lazier and with two laps remaining, the future Indianapolis 500 winner finally was able to get side-by-side with him. The two drivers stayed locked together until Hornish cleared Lazier on the frontstretch as the white flag came out.

Lazier battled back on the inside and re-took the lead coming out of Turn 2. But after tucking in behind Lazier down the backstretch, he popped to the high line going into Turn 3 and held a slight edge coming out of Turn 4 that would last all the way to the checkered flag.

At the stripe, Hornish won by .028 of a second after a remarkable display of precision from both himself and Lazier in the last couple of laps. When asked about having to fight Lazier at speeds close to 220 miles per hour, Hornish couldn’t help but grin.

“Everything just seems to slow down except for when they move toward you,” he told ESPN’s Jack Arute after the race. “Then it seems like it speeds up real fast.”

After Cheever’s near-miss, the Infiniti camp was left to console themselves with the third-place run turned in by French rookie Laurent Redon, who fought off the Team Penske duo of Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves for what would prove to be his best result in an IndyCar.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
0 Comments

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III