12 June 2000
Sharp wins Texas classic.
Scott Sharp broke a tie with Kenny Brack and Arie Luyendyk for the most IRL race wins with a narrow win in a wild race at Texas.
Despite being plagued by unseasonable weather all weekend, Texas Motor Speedway provided the fans of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series with an amazing spectacle of racing. The Casino Magic 500 of the year 2000 will go down as one of the greatest races in the history of the IRL with non-stop excitement for the entire 208 lap duration.
From the word go there was action as pole sitter Buddy Lazier pulled into an early lead. The 27 car field stayed together throughout the opening laps before a dozen cars slowly began to inch away from the mid field runners. This bunch was initially led by Lazier and Scott Goodyear who had started well from third place, behind these two cars swarmed everywhere with numerous slipstreaming battles continuing throughout the field. Goodyear relieved Lazier of the lead after just three laps only to be re-taken by the Hemelgarn driver two laps later.
Behind these two, Mark Dismore, Al Unser Jr, Eddie Cheever, Jeff Ward, Robbie Buhl, Eliseo Salazar and Sharp delighted the crowd with a frantic scrap for the remaining top ten places with Robby McGehee, Airton Dare, Greg Ray and Buzz Calkins also moving up well from lowly starting slots.
Dismore took the lead with a brave manoeuvre on Goodyear on lap 12 and kept the lead for four laps before Lazier overhauled him. For the opening 18 laps the race was run at a blistering pace but that can to a halt on lap 19 when spots of rain began to fall. With no other options, the officials stopped the race and sat the rain out. Thankfully it was only a brief shower and after a delay of nearly 45 minutes, the track was deemed dry enough for racing to resume.
As the field went under green on lap 22 Lazier kept his lead, closely followed by Dismore, Goodyear, Salazar, Unser et al. The Hemelgarn driver then controlled proceedings for a further six laps before being shuffled back by Salazar who led just a single lap before Lazier was able to draft past him.
Somehow Lazier maintained his lead for 15 laps between lap 30 and 45 although for most of that time he was mere inches ahead of Cheever and Unser Jr who ran side by side for whole laps at a time. With all this heart stopping action going on around the circuit, an accident seemed inevitable but there was no contact and the field remained under green until lap 62 when Billy Roe's engine blew leaving oil on the track.
This enabled the leaders to pit together, everyone behaving themselves in the pit-lane with Lazier now back in front after some lightning quick work by his team. Unser Jr had been leading when the caution came out and dropped back to second in the pits shuffle. However on the re-start it took the Galles ECR driver just a single lap to draft past Lazier and into the lead once again. Lazier and 'Little Al then traded places almost continuously for the best part of 40 laps, thrilling the crowd with numerous dare-devil moves which saw the cars just inches apart at speeds of well over 200mph.
Not that these were the only drivers providing excitement for almost directly behind them, Cheever, Sharp, Dismore and Goodyear battled wildly for third place.
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