Monday, May 29, 2000


Unser's finish career worst

By Tom Groeschen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Al Unser Jr.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        INDIANAPOLIS — Al Unser Jr.'s triumphant return to the Indianapolis 500 turned into his worst Indy finish.

        Unser, the two-time Indy champion racing here for the first time since 1994, finished 29th with a radiator problem. In 12 previous Indy starts, his lowest finish had been 25th.

        Unser started 18th and had some bad luck, catching debris in his radiator from a Greg Ray crash. Afterward he kept losing water and overheating, and finally quit after running just 89 laps.

        “The car just wasn't working,” Unser said. “I didn't want to be a danger. I just didn't have anybody to race. It's too bad the day ended by something getting stuck in the radiator.”

        Still, the 38-year-old Unser was thrilled just to be back at his favorite speedway. He had not raced here in six years because of the feud between CART and the Indy Racing League, having joined the IRL this year after losing his ride in CART.

        “It was great, to go around those pace laps and see those cheering fans, and be back at the greatest spectacle in racing,” Unser said. “It was great being here again.”

        FIRST TO WORST: Greg Ray won the pole but finished in last (33rd) place after crashing twice, thanks mainly to a broken front-wheel assembly. Ray became the fourth pole winner to finish last, joining Roberto Guerrero (1992), Pancho Carter (1985) and Cliff Woodbury (1929).

        RAIN DELAY: Sunday's race was delayed three hours by rain, starting at 3p.m. (EDT) instead of noon. The race ran under mostly overcast skies.

        WINNER'S PURSE: Winner Juan Montoya was awarded $1,235,690 of the Indy record purse of $9,476,505.


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