Motegi: Sharp takes win in Japan

Somehow, Scott Sharp managed to miss every obstacle thrown his way, to claim a surprising victory in the IRL IndyCar Series' first overseas race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, reiterating a familiar racing cliché. The fastest car isn't always the winning car

Motegi: Sharp takes win in Japan

Sharp was in the right place at the right time, coasting home to victory under caution after three of the fastest cars in the field - Scott Dixon's, Tony Kanaan's and Tomas Scheckter's - crashed out of the race during the final 22 laps.

"It's a shame but not surprising that there were a lot of crashes," said Kelley Racing driver Sharp, moved into first place in his Toyota powered Dallara when Dixon and Kanaan crashed while racing for the lead on the 178th lap. "We had a good race, and the guys gave me great pit stops."

Swede Kenny Brack, using the extensive late-race caution periods to run the final 58 laps without pitting, finished second. Felipe Giaffone was third, Michael Andretti fourth and Al Unser Jr. - Sharp's teammate - was fifth.

Brack, who worked back into position after a punctured tire put him out of sequence, never got a chance to run down Sharp. "We had to conserve a lot of fuel," he said. "We just ran out of laps at the end of the race. I'm pretty confident I could have caught Scott at the end with a few more green laps."

The wreckage of the IRL IndyCar Series' first overseas race was highlighted by the numbers. Eleven of the 24 cars crashed out of the race. Nine caution periods covered 64 laps. Three of the top four starters crashed.

The crash between Dixon and Kanaan was the second in 10 laps involving the race leaders. Minutes before the pair collided, Scheckter hit the wall while trying to pass Kanaan for the lead. "When the yellow came, I heard there was oil in turn three or four," Scheckter said. "It just became a bad situation."

The victory was the eighth in Sharp's Indy Racing League career, tying him for the series' all-time lead with Sam Hornish Jr. and Buddy Lazier. The win also put Sharp into the season points lead after three races, four points ahead of Kanaan heading into the Indianapolis 500.

Afterward, Sharp insisted he had the car to chase down the leaders - if he'd had any leaders to chase down. "I knew I had the speed to maintain third if not actually run them down," Sharp said. "I fought really strong all day."

Overall, though, the IRL's first venture outside the States wasn't exactly a stellar example of open-wheel racing. "I think some of the moves that guys made out there were not good," Brack said. "I wasn't happy with some of the drivers out there today. It takes a lot of attention at 200 miles per hour, and there wasn't a lot with some guys."

shares
comments
Qualifying: Dixon beats the rain

Previous article

Qualifying: Dixon beats the rain

Next article

Kanaan fractures arm in accident

Kanaan fractures arm in accident
Load comments
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indycar rookie Plus

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indycar rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in Indycar for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular team-mate Mauro Martini's passion for racing

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The two key areas where Dixon needs to re-assert his authority Plus

The two key areas where Dixon needs to re-assert his authority

OPINION: Having been Chip Ganassi Racing's IndyCar focal point for the best part of a decade, Scott Dixon has been so far outgunned by new team-mate Alex Palou in 2021. After finishing behind the Spaniard at his traditional happy hunting ground at Mid-Ohio, Dixon has work to do to assume his traditional position in the team and the standings

IndyCar
Jul 6, 2021
The winners and losers of IndyCar 2021 so far Plus

The winners and losers of IndyCar 2021 so far

At the halfway point in the 2021 IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels?

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Plus

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, he explained his tactics

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Plus

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after edging past Alex Palou on the penultimate lap of a thrilling race that validated Michael Shank's faith in the veteran Brazilian - who is discovering that there is life after Penske after all

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious at the Brickyard? Plus

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious at the Brickyard?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 27, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Plus

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there?

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Plus

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

IndyCar
May 14, 2021