OLDSMOBILE MOTORSPORT REPORT: Sunday, September 26, 1999 Results from Vegas.com 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 9th of 10 Pep Boys Indy Racing League races SCHMIDT SPRINTS TO FIRST IRL VICTORY IN LAS VEGAS LAS VEGAS - Sam Schmidt improved...
OLDSMOBILE MOTORSPORT REPORT: Sunday, September 26, 1999 Results from Vegas.com 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 9th of 10 Pep Boys Indy Racing League races
SCHMIDT SPRINTS TO FIRST IRL VICTORY IN LAS VEGAS
LAS VEGAS - Sam Schmidt improved on his runner-up finish in last year's season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to score his first IRL victory today in the Vegas.com 500. Last year he finished second to Treadway Racing's Arie Luyendyk in a gutty performance with an underfunded team. This year, after succeeding the retired Luyendyk at the wheel of Treadway's powerhouse Sprint PCS Oldsmobile G-Force, Schmidt fulfilled the promise he had shown as a struggling independent.
"This is just huge!" Schmidt exclaimed after posting a .617-second victory over defending IRL champion and Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack. "This is the next best thing to winning the Indianapolis 500. I couldn't have written a better story."
Schmidt led 35 of the 208 laps around the 1.5-mile superspeedway in his adopted hometown. He started on the pole and led the first circuit, but surrendered the point to Mark Dismore on the second lap. A miscue on his first pit stop cost Schmidt several positions, but he battled back to the front and regained the lead on lap 150. Brack took charge in A.J. Foyt's Power Team Oldsmobile G-Force in the closing stages of the race, leading 40 laps. Then with three laps to go, Schmidt made the decisive pass on Brack.
"I really had to take a big risk getting around Kenny, but we didn't come here to finish second," Schmidt declared. "I knew I only had three laps to go. I drove it real hard into Turn 1, and I might have brushed the wall coming off of Turn 2. That's how close it was to just letting it all hang out. I knew I wasn't going to lift. Thank God he gave me room."
Brack's runner-up finish vaulted him to second in the race for the $1 million IRL championship. He will start the season-ending Lone Star 500 at Texas Motor Speedway just 13 points behind Greg Ray. Ray finished 21st after retiring as a result of contact.
"We didn't have anything for Sam, but we're happy because we closed the gap on Greg Ray and we're starting the countdown now to Texas," said Brack, who ran a G-Force chassis for the first time this season. "The engine ran very good, as strong as ever."
Scott Goodyear's championship hopes were dealt a blow when the Pennzoil Panther driver crashed on lap 47. Goodyear was uninjured, but he fell from second to fifth in the standings.
Robbie Buhl earned a podium finish for car owners Larry Curry and Tony Stewart in Tri Star Motorsports' Oldsmobile Dallara in his first start since finishing sixth in the Indy 500. Buhl struggled in practice and qualifying, but rebounded to post a strong third-place finish,
"I didn't think we'd be on the podium after being on the bottom of the grid on Friday," Buhl confided. "Our car really came right during the race, and that made it fun."
High temperatures and swirling winds in the Nevada desert produced slippery track conditions and numerous spins. The race was slowed by 11 cautions that accounted for 70 laps under the yellow flag.
Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 engines powered the top 16 finishers. The lone Infiniti Indy in the field qualified 18th and finished 17th. Nissan's Eddie Cheever, Jr. led 32 laps before suffering an engine failure.
The final shootout for the Pep Boys Million will take place on the high-banked 1.5-mile Texas Motors Speedway on October 17.
RACE SUMMARY: Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile oval, Las Vegas, Nev. Winner: Sam Schmidt, Treadway Racing Sprint PCS Oldsmobile G-Force Margin of Victory: .617 seconds Average Speed: 124.936 mph
Top Five Finishers: Pos./Driver/Engine Laps 1. Sam Schmidt/Oldsmobile 208 2. Kenny Brack/Oldsmobile 200 3. Robbie Buhl/Oldsmobile 208 4. Scott Sharp/Oldsmobile 208 5. Buzz Calkins/Oldsmobile 207
Pole: Sam Schmidt/Oldsmobile, 209.465 mph Fastest Lap: Tyce Carlson/Oldsmobile, 205.152 mph
Manufacturer Results: Aurora Infiniti Laps Led 176 32 Starters 25 1 Running at Finish 13 0 Winning Oldsmobile Engine Builder: Comptech Machine
POINT STANDINGS: (After 9 of 10 events) Driver/Engine Wins Points 1. Greg Ray/Olds 3 255 2. Kenny Brack/Olds 1 242 3. Sam Schmidt/Olds 1 225 4. Scott Sharp/Olds 1 209 5. Scott Goodyear/Olds 2 207
Manufacturer Wins Points 1. Oldsmobile 9 99* 2. Nissan 0 63 *Clinched championship
NEXT RACE: Lone Star 500, Texas Motor Speedway, Sunday, October 17, 1999 TV: ABC Sports