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Lazier puts title within reach in Kentucky derby.

After the younger Lazier, having a great first time outing for the Mid America team, had an engine failure on lap 121 and Kite suffered a similar heart-breaking problem whilst leading on lap 155 it was left to Fisher, who had been in contention for the lead all day, to take the point for the first time in her career.

The near sold-out crowd came unglued when the 19 year old held her nerve and calmly picked her way through the field as the other contenders pitted. As she was on a slightly different pit strategy from the others and without the aid of a much needed caution flag her lead was something of a false dawn but still, it was a well-deserved moment.

Even better was still to come for as Goodyear and Lazier battled it out for the lead over the final 30 tours, Fisher moved back up through the leader board after her stop to take third spot and a well deserved podium finish.

Try as he might Goodyear could not find a way around Lazier in the last 30 laps despite being almost nose to tail for much of the way. The situation wasn't helped by some unhelpful back markers late on in the race which more or less prevented the veteran Canadian from making a final run on the Colorado native, despite that the gap was a mere 1.8 seconds at the end.

As an ecstatic Lazier punched the air in delight a loud bang from the rear of the car signalled a gearbox failure and the car simply coasted to a halt. It had been a remarkable end to a remarkable race.

Fisher and Cheever were the only other drivers to finish on the same lap as the winner with the latter driver now the only other man capable of taking the title away from either Lazier or Goodyear.

Those who kissed their title hopes goodbye included both Salazar and Unser Jr who were simply grateful for being unharmed after a very powerful impact with the concrete. Scott Sharp had been in trouble all weekend and once again his car let him down on just the 16th lap ending his hopes while Mark Dismore, Robbie Buhl and Donnie Beechler simply didn't have the machinery capable of challenging the leaders.

Completing the top five on the track was Stephan Gregoire who had another solid outing in the Dick Simon entered G Force while Jeff Ward gave the disappointed AJ Foyt something to smile about with a fine sixth place. Salazar's crash on lap three ended the American legends hopes of another title to add to his immense collection.

Greg Ray was a much-subdued seventh in a performance that went almost unnoticed by many. The Team Menard driver had been expected to shine after his complete decimation of the field in Atlanta and had looked well on the pace from the start of practice here. However from third on the grid he steadily dropped away and was not credited with leading a lap. From being a well-balanced machine on Saturday the Dallara was now an ungainly beast that Ray struggled to tame all day.

Shigeaki Hattori had another strong outing for the Treadway/Vertex/Cunningham outfit and came home in eighth just ahead of the unlucky Hornish whose day will come soon. Beechler was tenth a further lap adrift ahead of the similarly disappointed Dismore with Buzz Calkins and fellow championship hopefuls Buhl and Robby McGehee completing the list of competitive finishers.



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Buddy Lazier - Hemelgarn Racing
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