Race: Radisson 200

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.

Time of race: 01:23:55
Average speed: 142.987 MPH
Margin of victory: 10.108 sec

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