Sunday, June 8, 2003
Unser holds off Kanaan in Texas shootout
Recovers from last year's loss, wins Bombardier 500
The Associated Press
FORT WORTH, Texas - Al Unser Jr. held off Tony Kanaan in a one-lap shootout to win the Indy Racing League race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
With one lap to go after the restart following a caution period, Unser stayed on the low line as Kanaan, the series points leader, went high through the second turn.
Kanaan edged slightly ahead going into the backstretch. But with the preferred line, Unser was back in front by the last turn and won the Bombardier 500 by 0.0812 seconds, the seventh straight Texas race decided by less than a second.
Last June, Unser finished second, 0.0111 seconds - only inches - behind Jeff Ward.
"I was really worried about it. We had a good lead, and I know these finishes. We've lost this thing by too close of a margin," Unser said. "He came around me and I was trying to stay close to him, but I came barreling through at the finish."
It was Unser's third IRL victory, but first in 20 races since winning at Gateway in 2001. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner made his 40th IRL start.
Unser led 54 laps and won with an average speed of 168.213 mph.
Tora Takagi, who caused the wreck on the 191st lap that led to the last caution, finished third. Kenny Brack was fourth.
Takagi went inside and three-wide into the third turn on the 191st lap, and bumped Scott Sharp, who was running third at the time. Sharp's car was pushed up the track and slammed into Felipe Giaffone, Takagi's teammate.
It took IRL crews a long time to clean up the wreckage, and left time for only one more lap under green.
Unser had gained the lead when polesitter Tomas Scheckter pitted after 150 laps, then had problems in the pit. He led all but one lap after that.
BUSCH SERIES: Scott Riggs took the Busch Series points lead for the first time in his career Saturday night, running away for his second victory in the past five races.
Riggs, last season's rookie of the year, came into the Trace Adkins "Chrome" 300 trailing Todd Bodine by 76 points. But car trouble knocked Bodine out after 190 laps, while Riggs set a race record with his Ford by leading 160 of 225 laps.
Riggs has finished in the top three four times in the past five races, climbing from ninth to the top of the points standings over that stretch. He has an 18-point lead over David Green, who finished second in the race at Nashville Superspeedway.
David Green finished second in the race at Nashville Superspeedway.
David Stremme was third, followed by Randy LaJoie and Bobby Hamilton Jr. as Fords took three of the top seven spots.
"We fought it all night. I still thought we could've gotten a top-five. ... That's racing," Bodine said.
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