RACE REPORT: INDIANAPOLIS 500 Brack takes lead on Lap 199, wins after Gordon's fuel gamble fails. INDIANAPOLIS, May 30, 1999 - Kenny Brack passed Robby Gordon with two laps remaining when Gordon's fuel gamble failed and went on to win the ...
RACE REPORT: INDIANAPOLIS 500 Brack takes lead on Lap 199, wins after Gordon's fuel gamble fails.
INDIANAPOLIS, May 30, 1999 - Kenny Brack passed Robby Gordon with two laps remaining when Gordon's fuel gamble failed and went on to win the 83rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Brack took the lead on Lap 199 of the 200-lap race when Gordon was forced to pit for a splash of fuel in his Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Brack went on to beat Jeff Ward by 6.562 seconds for his first victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and first win of the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season in the A.J. Foyt PowerTeam Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Brack's average speed was 153.176 mph. Billy Boat finished third in the A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, while the third Foyt driver, Robbie Buhl, finished sixth. It was the first victory at Indy for a Foyt-owned car since he won in 1977, the last of his record four victories. Brack led six times for 66 laps, more than any other driver.
"I am happy for both of us," Brack said. "I think more for me. He (Foyt) has won it four times already. It has been very special to me." 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Brack stalked Gordon over the last 10 laps, cutting the lead from 4.064 seconds on Lap 193 to 1.271 seconds on Lap 197.
Whether Brack could catch Gordon was just one question. Whether Gordon had enough fuel was the other. Gordon had pitted last on Lap 164, taking the lead when all other lead cars pitted between Laps 169-171. Brack took fuel and tires on Lap 170, his last stop.
The result became academic when Gordon pulled into the pits on Lap 199. "Whether I would have been able to overtake him, I would have tried my hardest," Brack said. "I think we could have done it." Pole sitter Arie Luyendyk led four times for 63 laps in his final appearance at Indianapolis, including the first 32 laps, in the Sprint PCS-Meijer G Force/Aurora/Firestone. But Luyendyk crashed on Lap 117 when he spun while trying to pass the lapped car of Tyce Carlson. He was unhurt. "I had so much fun driving today," Luyendyk said. "It was like, really cool. It's been great throughout the years." Greg Ray led four times for 32 laps in the Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. But his race ended on Lap 120 when he collided with Mark Dismore while exiting the pits. Tony Stewart finished ninth in The Home Depot Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, four laps down. He then flew to Charlotte. N.C., to compete in the NASCAR Winston Cup event this evening.
KENNY BRACK (Winner, #14 A.J. Foyt PowerTeam Racing): (About the Aurora engine): "It ran very good all day. I didn't run the car real hard until the last 10 laps. Then we riched it. I think we ran this race perfect from the green flag to the checkered flag." (About racing with Arie Luyendyk and Greg Ray): "That was hard racing, too, but in the end I was running really hard just to catch Robby (Gordon) because I knew if he didn't pit, I'd have to try to pass him." (About resolving to place second before Robby ran out of fuel): "No, I wasn't going to take second. (It looked as though you thought the checkered flag had dropped with one lap to go): "As a matter of fact, I did. I started slowing down. I guess we had it won, we just hadn't won it yet." (Emotions on the last lap): "I was just concentrating on bring it to the flag safely. I don't get too emotional before I see the checkered flag." (Who are you happier for, A.J. or yourself?): "I am happy for both of us. I think more for me. He has won it four times already. So I am happier for myself. It has been very special to me." (Feeling of winning.): "It is very hard to win this race. You don't know what is going to happen. You have to concentrate, as there are a lot of risks to take. This year we picked up all the good things. I had my plan for driving, and the team had their plan for the car, and it all came together." (How do you feel about Formula One coming to Indy?): "I think it is good for Indianapolis." (About goals entering this race): "I thought I could win the Indy 500. I set goals for myself to win in whatever I drive. I have physically prepared myself for this race. The car was perfect, and we took care of it all week. I ran this race exactly the way I wanted to. Obviously some things had to fall into place, and some guys fell out of the race." (Which was more special, winning the '500' or winning the championship last year?): "My goal of course was to win as many races as possible. We won the championship last year, and of course given the choice of winning the Indy 500 and winning the championship, I would focus more on winning the Indy 500. Of course, I'd like to win a few more races and win another championship." (About chances of passing Robby Gordon if he didn't need fuel): "Whether I would have been able to overtake him, I would have tried my hardest. I think we could've done it." (About A.J. Foyt): "He calls a spade a spade, and although I'm not as outspoken as he is, I think I tell it like it is. My goal was to drive a perfect race. If you drive a perfect race, then that's all you can do?and I believe I did. You don't want to take any chances in the middle of the race. You wait to see who's your competition." (What's best?an Indy 500 win or the championship?): "You can probably put them in the same ranks. But right now, it's better to win this race."
JEFF WARD (Second, #21 Yahoo/MerchantOnline/Dallara/Olds): "I would rather be where Kenny (Brack) is right now. I was strong all day. We were struggling at the beginning. We went from 14th to seventh on the first lap. The car went loose. We went one lap down but got that back. The car was perfect all day. It was exciting for me. I wanted to win this one, and once I got loose I couldn't get around him (Brack). He got a run on me. Once I was behind him, I couldn't get around him. I hope I don't have an in-between year like we had last year. I hit the lapper at the wrong time. I am happy with second. It was a great way to start with our new sponsors, Yahoo! and MerchantOnline."
BILLY BOAT (Third, #11 A.J. Foyt Racing): "Overall, it's obviously a great day from A.J. Foyt Racing-first and third. We just never really had the race car to run up front. Kenny Brack drove a tremendous race, and I'm very happy for him."
ROBBY GORDON (Fourth, #32 Glidden/Menards): "We should have come in and gotten a splash of fuel. The car said we have two gallons, and all we needed was one. We knew what it takes to win, and we let it slip away. It's very unfortunate. We were one lap away from winning the Indy 500. I thought we were close in '95 when I was between Goodyear and Villeneuve and came in because I thought I had a flat tire. I was conservative and came in, and I didn't have a flat tire. I thought that was close! We definitely had the car today. It was very, very good. John (Menard) made some great, great calls. We stayed on the same pace as the leaders, kept working on our car then we got lapped. We got the lap back. At the end, we could have come in under the yellow, splashed for fuel and beat them all out, but we didn't. I thought all the stars were aligned. There was a full moon, it was beautiful, but the stars weren't aligned for me." (Which hurt more - when you crashed here and had to roll on the ground to put out the flames or today's race?): "Both hurt real bad. We were leading both races when it happened. But today, we kept our cool. We were in a position to win the Indy 500. Damn, we came this close to winning the 500." (What would you have done if John Menard had called over to you to conserve fuel?): "He said, 'Why don't you put it in sixth gear to save fuel?' I said, 'Already there, Boss.'" (About your emotions right now?): "I want to sit and cry. It's not gonna change anything. I could go kick the car, but John would be mad at me, and we have another race to go to. We've got to suck it up and go at it again." (As the post-race news conference took place, it began to rain hard enough to be heard in the trackside conference room): "Damn, why didn't that rain come 10 laps earlier?" (Could Brack have beat you at the end if you hadn't run out of fuel?): "Kenny wasn't a concern. He didn't have the speed for us at the end of the race. I know we had the fastest car on the track today, 100 laps on. But this is the Indy 500, and you must first finish to finish first, and we were a lap short. It makes me sick. We will be drinking milk next year, I promise you."
ROBBY McGEHEE (Fifth, top-finishing rookie, #55 Energizer Advanced Formula): "Dave (Conti) made the decision last night that if there was an early yellow, we were going to come in and get out of sequence in terms of pit stops. So that's what really made the difference. If I could be Rookie of the Year, that would be the best thing in the world and the pinnacle of my career. The only thing that could be better would be winning the race. It's a dream come true. We've worked so hard to get here. Overall, the result was fantastic." (About the start): "The start wasn't that bad. I've heard a lot about how you can't breathe and about the air being real turbulent. The wind was tremendous, but the start wasn't as bad as they said. I think they were just trying to scare us rookies." (About the race): "The race pace was slow, which really surprised me. In practice, I was running laps over 220 mph, but in the race, I think my quickest lap was only 208 mph. I really think this race is a race of attrition."
ARIE LUYENDYK (22nd, #5 Sprint PCS/Meijer): (What happened during accident): "It was my responsibility as the leader to make a pass cleanly. I was following Tyce (Carlson) and came up on (Turn) 3 as the fast car in the inside, and he (Carlson) came down on me. I had to hit the brakes because he pinned me down. When you hit the brakes at 220, you've got to go somewhere. I probably had more fun today than any other day." (About Greg Ray): "As a matter of fact, I needed to be ahead of them to beat them. Their crew was really fast in the pits. They could have beaten me out of the pits." (About accident): "In a field this competitive, I have to say to myself, 'Why did I make a move like that?' But then, you can't let up when the field is this competitive. I get over these kinds of disappointments very well. That's what makes this place. That's what makes people like Mario (Andretti) come back at 54. That's what this place is all about. I'm still in my driving suit because when I'm out, I'm watching the race. I had so much fun driving today. It was like, really cool. I want to thank everybody (in the media) for what they've done for me. I've never had a bad write-up. In thinking back on today, when I got out of the car, the crowd was going nuts. I was trying to take it all in. It's been great throughout the years. I had the best car here today that I've ever had. The car gave me so much confidence. It was a car that was too good to be true, and this was probably part of my demise." *** NEWS and NOTES:
Late lead changes: The lead has changed hands with three laps or less remaining in the race five times. In 1912, Ralph DePalma broke down with only two laps to go and handed the victory to Joe Dawson. In 1961, A.J. Foyt Jr. took the lead from Eddie Sachs on Lap 198 when Sachs had to pit with a badly worn tire. In 1986, Kevin Cogan lost the lead at the tail end of the 198th lap when Bobby Rahal beat him to the line on a restart following a caution period. In 1989, Al Unser Jr. lost the lead to Emerson Fittipaldi when he hit the wall on Lap 199 after the two drivers touched wheels in Turn 3 while racing side by side. In 1999, Kenny Brack led the last two laps when race leader Robby Gordon ran out of fuel. *** Mirror image: Six cars finished in the same position in which they started today, tying a race record set in 1966. Drivers who matched their starting positions at the checkered flag: Billy Boat (started, finished third); Robby Gordon (started, finished fourth); Hideshi Matsuda (started, finished 10th); Davey Hamilton (started, finished 11th); Roberto Guerrero (started, finished 25th); Dr. Jack Miller (started, finished 31st) *** Champ reigns supreme: Kenny Brack is the first defending Indy Racing champion to win the Indianapolis 500 since Bobby Unser in 1975. Brack won the Pep Boys Indy Racing League championship in 1998; Unser won the USAC national championship in 1974. *** New leader: Jeff Ward took the lead in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League point standings with his second-place finish. Ward leads with 115 points. Scott Goodyear, who led entering this event, fell to second at 96. Boat is third with 90. *** Next event: Longhorn 500 presented by MCI on June 12 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.