MADISON, Ill., Friday, Aug. 24, 2001 - Scott Sharp may be a distant third in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series point standings, but he's not going down without a fight.
Sharp led the only practice session of the day Aug. 24 for the Gateway Indy 250, posting a top lap of 26.7440 seconds, 168.262 mph in the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone at Gateway International Raceway.
"I think with two days of working on the car (in the Open Test), everybody probably got two- or three- or four-tenths quicker. So for a half-an-hour session, everybody got up to speed pretty quick." Morning rain forced the cancellation of the morning practice.
Each of the two groups had 30 minutes to turn laps on the 1.25-mile oval during the afternoon practice.
Northern Light Cup points leader Sam Hornish Jr. was second at 26.8530, 167.579 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Hornish leads second-place Buddy Lazier by 25 points and Sharp by 88 points with three races remaining in the season.
Robbie Buhl was third at 26.8643, 167.509 in the No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone. Mark Dismore was fourth at 26.9097, 167.226 in the No. 28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, while Jeff Ward rounded out the top five at 26.9644, 166.887 in the No. 35 Heritage Motorsports Firestone Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Lazier was seventh at 27.0029, 166.649 in the No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.
Three rookies - Chris Menninga, Alex Barron and Anthony Lazzaro - made their official Indy Racing debuts today.
Menninga led the newcomers at 27.1866, 165.523 in the No. 92 Hemelgarn/Metro Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, good for 11th overall. Barron was 15th overall at 27.5841, 163.137 in the No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. His Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate, Lazzaro, was 16th overall at 27.6491, 162.754 in the No. 44 Parsons' Project G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Jaques Lazier ended up 13th overall at 27.2400, 165.198 in his debut with Team Menard in the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Lazier, younger brother of Buddy Lazier, joined the team last week after Greg Ray was released. MBNA Pole Qualifying, which starts at noon (CDT) Saturday, should be tight. Less than one second separated the top 18 drivers in the 24-car field.
The Gateway Indy 250 starts at 2 p.m. (CDT) Sunday.