GOODYEAR READY FOR INDY RACING LEAGUE'S "MONSTER" ENDURANCE TEST AT DOVER DOVER, Del. (July 30, 1999) -- There are few places where a Goodyear Eagle racing tire can be put to the test like Dover Downs International Speedway, a one-mile oval ...
GOODYEAR READY FOR INDY RACING LEAGUE'S "MONSTER" ENDURANCE TEST AT DOVER
DOVER, Del. (July 30, 1999) -- There are few places where a Goodyear Eagle racing tire can be put to the test like Dover Downs International Speedway, a one-mile oval unlike any other on the Indy Racing League circuit. Dover's steep 24-degree banking is reminiscent of the 1.5-mile high-banked superspeedway at Atlanta, where Goodyear claimed its fifth victory in six IRL starts this season just two weeks ago.
But when the IRL drivers and machines take to the Dover track for this weekend's MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200, they will face an additional element not seen elsewhere on the Indy Racing League circuit: a 100-percent concrete racetrack. The fast and furious racing on Dover's "Monster Mile" has given the track a fearsome reputation in NASCAR racing and that reputation has carried over to the IRL as well.
"Dover Downs is a challenge unlike any other in the Indy Racing League," says Paul Lauritzen, Goodyear’s operations manager for the IRL. "The unique concrete surface and the high-banked layout place a big demand on the Goodyear Eagles to perform throughout the tire's entire lifecycle. It is under challenging conditions like this that Goodyear has proven to have the best tire."
Having the best tire is one of the key elements that took Kelley Racing's Scott Sharp to victory in Atlanta, his first victory since winning at Dover one year ago.
"We're excited coming off the win at Atlanta to be going back to Dover," says Sharp, who jumped to No. 2 in the IRL points championship with the win. "Dover is a very demanding track, both on the car and the driver. It's a survival race, more than any other race on the Indy Racing League schedule."
A year ago, Sharp was the third qualifier at Dover. After duking it out with Tony Stewart in the early laps Sharp assumed control of the race, leading the most laps. But in the closing laps Sharp came under a stiff challenge from Buddy Lazier, who made up a four-second deficit but had to lock-up his brakes at the finish line to avoid hitting Sharp. Goodyear-equipped cars claimed five of the first six positions in the race.
"After Tony dropped out we were on cruise control until the end," Sharp recalls. "I don't sense it will be that way this time. The competition level is always on the rise, especially when there are so many drivers capable of running 19-second laps."
Following the qualifying performance in Atlanta, where the 25 drivers that made qualifying runs were separated by only 0.620 second, the entire field at Dover could be even closer.
Work at the track may aid the IRL's competitiveness. Dover Downs recently completed a grinding operation on the 30-year-old track, smoothing the surface and reducing the severity of the bumps on the track. "The grinding project will make things much easier on the equipment and that would make the cars much faster around the 'Monster Mile' this year except for the 500 rpm reduction in the engines and rear wing changes the sanctioning body has made to slow the cars down," adds Lauritzen. "The slower speeds should make for some close and exciting racing."
Sharp, for one, didn't mind the bumpy track. "The work Dover did should benefit everyone," he says, "But I didn't mind the bumps. I like the fact that not all of the IRL tracks are the same, and Dover definitely provides a challenge to the team, the driver, the car and the tires.
"The Goodyear Eagle tires are great," he adds. "They offer us the performance we need at every race and the endurance we need at a race like Dover."
Sharp will face stiff competition from a number of Goodyear-equipped racers, including Kelley Racing teammate Mark Dismore, Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack and A.J. Foyt Enterprises teammate Billy Boat, IRL points leader and two-race winner Scott Goodyear and Orlando winner Eddie Cheever. Other Goodyear racers in the IRL top-10 include third-placed Jeff Ward from Pagan Racing and Davey Hamilton from Galles Motorsports Spinal Victory.
Also racing on Goodyear Eagles are Buddy Lazier (Hemelgarn Racing), Raul Boesel (Brant Racing), Jaques Lazier (Truscelli Team Racing) and Ronnie Johncox (Tri-Star Motorsports).
"With five wins in six races, Goodyear has proven to be the tire the winners rely on in the Indy Racing League," says Lauritzen. "Goodyear can claim the 1999 tire manufacturers' honors with a win at Dover, but it is just as important to make sure that our Goodyear-equipped teams and drivers get to victory lane at every race we compete in." -0-