Howard Harnesses Tight IRL Indy Pro Series Kentucky Win
Indy Racing League Indy Pro Series driver Jay Howard harnessed his second win of the 2006 season in exciting fashion at Kentucky Speedway today by edging Jonathan Klein by 0.0190 of a second at finish line in the closest series race in track history.
Howard and his No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports machine traded the lead with third-place finisher Wade Cunningham and his No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing car six times during the 67-lap event.
The ultra-close finish was set up by the second and final caution period of the race that spanned from Lap 62 to 64 after Andretti Green Racing driver Jaime Camara spun his No. 11 car in Turn 3 and it connected with the wall.
Following the race restart with four laps remaining, Howard kept his car in thick of a three-wide battle for the lead between himself, Klein and Cunningham before taking control of the 16-car field for the final time coming out of Turn 4 on the last lap.
"On the (final) restart, I got a pretty decent start. Getting up to speed, Wade got around the outside of me. We touched a couple of times, but that's fine by me," Howard said. "I knew which line I needed to take, stuck to that line, got it as straight as possible out of (Turn) Four and headed for the line. I got within about 150 yards of the line and I knew we'd won.
"The car was absolutely perfect. Right from the start, I got to into the lead. Wade got back by and from that point on, I just decided to be patient, keep the other traffic behind me and play the waiting game.
"I made a few adjustments on the car and tried running some different lines, making sure the car was good enough for me to make a move on Wade. I told guys on the radio what I did and they were happy with that. I made my move, made it stick and was confident no one was going to get back by." Defending race champion Travis Gregg, of Camden, Ohio near Cincinnati, closed out the race fourth in his No. 77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car and Sean Guthrie was fifth in the No. 41 Guthrie Racing machine.
Howard retains the series championship lead heading to next event two events at Infineon Raceway August 26 and 27. Klein's seventh top-five finish of the season moved him into the second spot in the championship race.
"It's going to be wild," he said of the final three-race stretch of the season that comes to a close at Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 9. "All the top runners are going to be quick and it's going to be a dog fight until the end of the season."
Story by Mike Schmaltz
~ Kentucky Speedway ~