Track: Pikes Peak International Raceway
Date: Sunday, June 17, 2001
Start time: 2:12 PM MDT
Weather: Hot, sunny, windy
IRL historical: #6 of 13 in 2001 season, IRL race #49 overall
Track historical: IRL race #6, Indy car race #6 at this track
Track configuration: 1 mile D-oval, flat track
Wing package: Short track
The 2001 running of the Radisson 200 was remarkable in several respects, including a dominating performance from an unexpected quarter and a sad ending to a great iron-man performance. This was the first ever IRNLS race without Davey Hamilton in the field; he had suffered severe foot and leg injuries in a freak accident at Texas. Recovering from reconstructive surgery, he watched the race from a hospital bed in St. Louis, and as of this writing it looked very questionable as to whether Davey would ever race again. Car owner Sam Schmidt hired former IRNLS wunderkind Ritchie Hearn to substitute. Shigeaki Hattori crashed twice, once in practice and once on his second lap of qualifying after turning a time on his first lap good for 7th on the grid. Hattori had to be taken off on a stretcher after the qualifying crash, and was not medically cleared to drive for the race; the team chose to withdraw rather than substitute another driver.
As he had the previous year, Greg Ray dominated the practice and qualifying sessions, but at the start of the race he was in a few laps blown off by Sam Hornish, who then proceeded to blow off the rest of the field. Robbie Buhl, Scott Sharp, and Buddy Lazier diced for second, but as they did so Buhl opened up a 5-second lead. Donnie Beechler pitted with an extremely loose condition on lap 12, and Ray pitted with the same complaint two laps later. Meanwhile, Hornish drew away so rapidly that by lap 18 he was encountering lapped traffic, and by lap 25 he had lapped all but the top 10 cars. As Billy Roe pitted on lap 27 for tires (he was loose too), Hornish held a 10-second lead on Buhl, Lazier, Sharp, and Buzz Calkins. Lazier took second from Buhl on lap 34, but as they diced Hornish drew even further away. On lap 45 Hornish lapped eighth-place Mark Dismore and kept on going.
On lap 58, a 16-second lead enjoyed by Hornish was wiped out for a caution thrown for high winds, which had blown trash and debris across the back stretch. While Jeff Ward stayed out to get back on the lead lap, all of the leaders pitted, and most took the opportunity to make adjustments to try to gain something on Hornish. It didn't make much difference, though: as the green flew on lap 66 Hornish once again ran away and hid. Eddie Cheever did manage to pass him, but only to get a lap back, and Hornish quickly re-lapped him a few laps later. At this point, one-third of the way through the race, only four cars were on the lead lap: Hornish, B. Lazier, Buhl, and Ward. On lap 79, Hornish lapped Ward to make it three.
By lap 95, Hornish had built an 8-second lead on Lazier, and Buhl was 2/3 of a lap behind. Ward, who did not pit during the caution, finally had to pit under green on lap 95; the car was out of fuel when he entered the pits and they had difficulty restarting it, costing them much time. Meanwhile, Didier Andre retired with throttle linkage problems and Billy Roe with low oil pressure. Most cars other than Hornish were reporting loose conditions, but Calkins reported having a push. On lap 112, Hornish held a 1/2 lap lead over B. Lazier and was attempting to lap Buhl in third. Lazier had in trail the lapped cars of Cheever and Jaques Lazier, fighting for fourth, but on lap 115 some drivers complained of water coming from Cheever's car and a caution was thrown. (Cheever's car was inspected during the yellow and no leak was found.)
Once again a big lead was wiped out for Hornish, but at this point he had nearly the entire field lapped. As the leaders pitted Billy Boat stayed out to get a lap back, moving him up to fourth. Some speedy-dri was put on the front stretch and the green waved again on lap 124. Just after the restart Cheever's latent engine problem manifested itself and the engine went sour; he kept running at a reduced pace. Hornish pulled away at the restart but his car was not as good as before, or maybe Lazier's was better; by lap 138 Buddy was on Sam's tail and threatening to make the second lead change of the day. But that was thwarted by his brother Jaques' engine, which blew going down the front stretch on lap 147, causing another yellow.
During this yellow most of the lead-lap cars stayed out. The caution was a break for Boat who was off sequence and needed another stop, but during the stop he ran over an air hose and had to serve a drive-through penalty after the green. Jeff Ward was experiencing handling problems which turned out to be a broken adjusting screw on the left front wing; the team tried to compensate by turning the rignt front all the way down on its adjuster, but the car was evil after that and Ward couldn't keep up the pace. Hornish still led at the green flag, but in one lap Lazier slipped under in turn 3 to take the lead. A few laps later Hornish got into the marbles in turn 4; he made a great save but lost several seconds and messed up his tires, and after that it was Lazier's race. Hornish wound up having to defend his position from Buhl as Lazier stretched out a 10-second lead. Other than Hornish and Buhl battling, the end of the race lacked drama as Lazier won easily. Hornish managed to hold off Buhl for second, with Boat finishing a very respectable fourth, the last car on the lead lap. Oddly, no cars finished one lap down; fifth place was nailed down by Airton Dare who took advantage of Cheever's sick engine right at the end of the race. Rookie Felipe Giaffone finished seventh to solidify his grip on the Rookie of the Year title. Hearn brought Schmidt's car home ninth, his best IRNLS finish since a win at Las Vegas in 1996.
Fin St Qual Car C/E/T Driver Entrant Laps Status Laps Pts Spd # Led 1 5 173.566 91 D/A/F Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn 200 Running 44 50 2 3 174.589 4 D/A/F Sam Hornish Panther 200 Running 152 42 3 4 174.213 24 G/I/F Robbie Buhl D&R 200 Running 35 4 9 173.020 98 D/A/F Billy Boat Beck 200 Running 32 5 14 171.647 88 G/A/F Airton Dare Xtreme 198 Running 30 6 11 172.525 51 D/I/F Eddie Cheever Cheever 198 Running 28 7 10 172.690 21 G/A/F Felipe Giaffone Treadway 198 Running 26 8 2 174.795 8 D/A/F Scott Sharp Kelley 197 Running 24 9 16 169.688 99 D/A/F Ritchie Hearn Schmidt 197 Running 22 10 15 170.716 15 D/A/F Sarah Fisher Walker 197 Running 20 11 18 167.096 3 G/A/F Al Unser Galles 196 Running 19 12 19 166.537 35 G/A/F Jeff Ward Heritage 196 Running 18 13 6 173.494 28 D/A/F Mark Dismore Kelley 196 Running 17 14 12 172.225 14 D/A/F Eliseo Salazar Foyt 194 Running 16 15 8 173.086 12 D/A/F Buzz Calkins Bradley 193 Running 15 16 17 168.128 11 D/A/F Donnie Beechler Foyt 192 Running 14 17 13 171.783 77 G/A/F Jaques Lazier Xtreme 145 Engine 13 18 1 176.593 2 D/A/F Greg Ray Menard 132 Handling 4 12 19 20 166.283 32 G/A/F Didier Andre Galles 104 Thrtl Link 11 20 21 153.969 81 G/A/F Billy Roe Zali 34 Oil Pres. 10 21 7 173.169 55 D/A/F Shigeaki Hattori Cunningham 0 Withdrawn 9
The car #55 did not start; the stated starting position is based on the first qualifying lap. The car crashed on its second qualifying lap and the driver was injured.
Laps under green: 177 of 200 laps (88.5%)
Caution flags: 3 for 23 laps (11.5%)
#1: lap 58, high winds / debris, BS, 7 laps
#2: lap 115, water on track, FS, 8 laps
#3: lap 83, blown engine (J. Lazier), FS, 8 laps
Red flags: 0 for 0 minutes
Lead changes: 2; number of race leaders: 3
St: Ray 1-4
#1: Hornish 5-156
#2: Lazier 157-200
C/E/T finish averages (# started / avg finish):
Dallara: 13 / 10.5
G-Force: 8 / 11.8
Aurora: 19 / 11.7
Infiniti: 2 / 4.5
Firestone: 21 / 11.0