SPARTA, Ky., Sunday, Aug. 12, 2001 -- Buddy Lazier became the first driver in Indy Racing League history to win four races in a season after capturing the Belterra Casino Indy 300 on Aug. 12 at Kentucky Speedway.
But probably more important to Lazier was that he cut the deficit to Indy Racing Northern Light Series leader Sam Hornish Jr. to just 25 points with three races left in the season.
It was Lazier's fourth victory in the last five races in the No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. It was his eighth career record, another Indy Racing record. MBNA Pole winner Scott Sharp finished second in the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1.5822 seconds behind Lazier. Lazier averaged 174.910 mph to win for the second consecutive year at Kentucky.
"We're going for it," defending Northern Light Series champion Lazier said of the title chase. "They (Pennzoil Panther Racing) had a brilliant first half of the season; we're on the way to a brilliant second half."
Hornish finished third in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. He led by 40 points entering this event, the 10th of 13 on the season schedule.
"I don't feel any pressure from any of the guys out there," Hornish said. "I go out there and drive as hard as I can every race. It wouldn't matter if I was 200 points ahead, I would try to win every race." Lazier prevailed after a tense battle with Robbie Buhl, as they exchanged the lead four times in the last 11 laps on the 1.5-mile oval. Lazier took the lead for the final time on Lap 197, and his victory was ensured when Buhl ran out of fuel on Lap 199 of the 200-lap race. Buhl ended up ninth, one lap down. "Robbie Buhl made it hard on me," Lazier said. "I couldn't make it easy on him. We were running hard."
Buhl was trying to conserve fuel while racing hard against Lazier in the late laps due to a miscue on his final pit stop on Lap 159. Buhl was instructed by his crew to leave the pits while the fueling rig was still hooked into the side of the No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold G Force/Infiniti/Firestone. The car didn't get a full fuel load.
"That's just part of the competitiveness," Buhl said. "You can't give up anything on the track. That's just by us trying to leave a little bit early, still hooked up to the fuel, and we didn't get enough in. It's really frustrating."
Sharp dominated the first half of the race, leading the first 105 laps in the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. But he lost the lead after a pit stop on Lap 105 and never led thereafter.
"We had an untouchable car the first half; not sure what happened in the second half," Sharp said. "I think we had a little bit of a shock problem; the car got a lot more rough over the bumps."
Lazier took the lead for the first time on Lap 112 and kept it until Buhl passed him on Lap 189 to start their last-laps duel. But the race was filled with breathtaking, side-by-side battles for position throughout the field.
The next Indy Racing event is the Gateway Indy 250 on Aug. 26 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.