Super Cheap Auto Racing's Steve Ellery was only a few laps away from a top-four finish in today's first V8 race at Indy when a mechanical problem forced him to retire.

Had he been able to finish, the result would have netted Ellery three top-four finishes in a row, a remarkable record for the small eight-man team.

Ellery described today's race as almost perfect before parking the car on the side of the track on lap 18 of the 22-lap race.

"Up until lap eighteen we were going so well out there, we were very strong and very competitive," Steve Ellery said. "It's gut wrenching to be so close to another fantastic result.

"Everything was fine until I heard some noise from the engine, then I was forced to pull over to the side of the track.

"We're not really sure exactly what the problem is at the moment, but we do need to change engines. The boys will do that tonight and we'll be on track tomorrow guaranteed.

"When we get the engine back to the workshop we'll be able to properly look at it and find out exactly what happened and why."

Prior to the mechanical fault Ellery, starting from seventh, was able to make up three places in the pits after the safety car came out on lap-three.

"You don't keep racing when a yellow flag comes out in a sprint race," Ellery said. "Everyone wants to make up race position in the pits and this time we did.

"The team was superb, they did a six point four second stop which is a record for us so I couldn't have asked more of the team.

"We went from seventh to fourth and had a shot at a top-three finish."

In another 'best ever' Ellery broke his record at the start of the race going from zero to 100 from the jump in three point five seconds.

"I had a great start today, it was boost performance gone mad,' Ellery joked. "You always strive for strong starts but today was terrific, I don't think anyone else around me started as well as I did.

"It's confidence I think; we've had two strong results, we were competitive out there today, our sponsors Super Cheap Auto and Ford are staying with us and I've got a great team, I couldn't be happier."

Towards the end of the race Ellery was in a strong fourth place but decided to push for an even higher result.

"I was pacing myself against Jason Bright for a while but then I realised I was starting to catch Mark Skaife so I upped it (the pace) a bit with third place in mind," Ellery said. "I would have been delighted with fourth but I thought that third was a possibility, in the end it was not to be."

When forced to pull over Ellery was understandably frustrated but the fans around him softened the blow a little.

"When I got out of the car I was greeted with cheers from the crowd around me," Ellery said. "They were patting me on the back and asking for autographs, I think I gained fifty new fans out there, they were great, I really appreciated it.

"I think that the fans have enjoyed our success of late, maybe as much as we [the team] have. We'll be fighting tomorrow for some points, we want to show the Gold Coast what we can do.

"The aim is to make up for today a little, it'll be really tough but I'll be showing up to race."



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