Sunday, August 15, 2004

Chesson overtakes first-timer Gregg


Pole-sitter finishes fifth in IPS debut

By Dustin Dow
Enquirer staff writer

SPARTA, Ky. - His first race almost turned into his first win for Travis Gregg at Kentucky Speedway Saturday.

The Infiniti Pro Series Kentucky 100 pole-sitter, Gregg finished fifth in the race after leading 57 of the first 58 laps in the 67-lap race.

The Camden, Ohio, native was driving in his first IPS race after coming up as a sprint car driver. He was driving an Indy car for the first time this weekend since he initially tested for Sam Schmidt Motorsports last year. Gregg, 26, drove sprint cars at Lawrenceburg Speedway last week.

Eventual winner P.J. Chesson and third-place finisher Leonardo Maia passed Gregg on the 59th lap.

Despite missing an opportunity to win, Gregg was pleased with his performance.

"Leonardo got underneath me, and then Chesson came around me, and I was just trying to hold on and stay safe because it was my first race and put away a top-five finish," Gregg said.

A rookie himself, Chesson won the race when he passed Maia on the 61st lap. Chesson barely held off Paul Dana at the finish, winning by half a car length.

Chesson won for the second straight race after finishing first two weeks ago in Michigan.

"I didn't think we'd win one race, so to win two in a row is just unreal," Chesson said.

UNSER OUT EARLY: Al Unser, son of Al Unser Jr., crashed into the outside wall on the 24th lap of the Kentucky 100 and finished in 11th place. He was treated at the track and released. Unser had made contact with Dana's car, which sent Unser's No. 2 car into the Turn 4 wall.

CHANGE UP: Crews for Bryan Herta and Townsend Bell changed the engines in their cars after Saturday morning practice sessions for today's Belterra Casino Indy 300. The switch requires those cars to start in the back of the field for today's race. They did not have to qualify. Herta will start 21st, one spot ahead of Bell.

SLOWER THAN USUAL: Buddy Rice's top qualifying speed of 216.016 mph for the Belterra Casino 300 was the slowest at the track since Scott Sharp won the pole in 2001 with a speed of 214.598 mph.

HONDA CLOSING IN: With a 26-point lead over Toyota, Honda can clinch the manufacturer's championship with a win today by any of its nine drivers.

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E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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