IRL: Pep Boys IRL Weekly Notebook 98-08-11

Guerrero tests new wheels: Roberto Guerrero returned to a Pep Boys Indy Racing League car last week for the first time since June, testing with the CBR-Cobb Racing team at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Guerrero was hired to...

Guerrero tests new wheels: Roberto Guerrero returned to a Pep Boys Indy Racing League car last week for the first time since June, testing with the CBR-Cobb Racing team at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Guerrero was hired to drive for Cobb after Jim Guthrie left the team. Guerrero started this season with Pagan Racing but was released after the True Value 500 on June 6 at Fort Worth, Texas. Stevie Reeves took over the Pagan seat last month.

"I'm just trying to get the car adjusted to me, and I'm still getting to know the team," Guerrero said. "This is the first time I've driven a G Force chassis and raced on Firestone tires so we're just trying to get a basic setup."

Guerrero's official return will come this weekend during the Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. He will drive the CBR G Force/Infiniti/Firestone in the race Sunday. The team switched to Infiniti engines starting at this event.

"We've just signed on with Nissan, and we're finishing a new car," said team owner Price Cobb, from Golden, Colo. "Nissan has made significant improvements to their engine, and we're very confident about the switch."

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Testing, testing: Testing is intensifying around the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, as teams and tire companies Firestone and Goodyear prepare for the stretch run of the season.

Tony Stewart turned the fastest speed of a Firestone tire test, 212.413 mph, on Aug. 5 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The season-ending Las Vegas 500 takes place Oct. 11 at the 1.5-mile oval.

Stewart's fast lap in the Glidden-Menards Special took place in scorching heat.

"If the tires can survive weather like this, they can survive 85-degree weather," Stewart said. "Any time you can test like this, you're going to learn something."

Stewart clinched his first season championship last year at Las Vegas. He is second in the standings this year, eight points behind leader Scott Sharp.

USAC standout Jason Leffler was second fastest at 210 mph in the Sprint PCS-RadioShack-QUALCOMM G Force/Aurora/Firestone fielded by Treadway Racing. Leffler recently signed a contract with the team, which fields cars for two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk.

Stewart's teammate, Robbie Buhl, was third fastest at 208.7, according to published reports.

Six drivers participated in a Goodyear tire test Aug. 5-6 at Texas Motor Speedway, with many exceeding 220 mph, said Paul Lauritzen, Goodyear team manager for the IRL.

A.J. Foyt racing teammates Billy Boat and Kenny Brack, Kelley Racing teammates Sharp and Mark Dismore, Buddy Lazier and Davey Hamilton all tested at TMS. The Lone Star 500, the second-to-last race of the season, takes place Sept. 20 at the 1.5-mile oval.

Boat earned his first career Pep Boys IRL victory at the True Value 500 on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway. He is the major contender for the $100,000 Texas Two-Step bonus awarded to the driver who earns the most points at the two TMS races.

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Michner staying with R&S for rest of season: Rookie Andy Michner will remain the driver of the Reebok R&S MK V fielded by Riley & Scott for the rest of the season, team spokesman Bill Riley said.

Michner, from Ann Arbor, Mich., replaced the injured Eliseo Salazar starting at the VisionAire 500 on July 25 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Michner finished 12th in his debut in the team's Riley & Scott/Aurora/Goodyear.

"He got along with the team pretty well," Riley said of former USAC standout Michner. "He showed maturity. We kept him on a short leash, and he handled it perfectly. He showed a lot of promise."

Salazar suffered multiple fractures in an accident July 18 at Dover, Del., during practice for the Pep Boys 400K. He recently moved from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to a rehabilitation center in Indianapolis and is in good spirits, Riley said.

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Pelfrey keeping Tyler: Rookie Brian Tyler will stay behind the wheel with Team Pelfrey for the rest of this season, team spokesman Dennis Jones said.

Two-time defending USAC midget national champion Tyler joined the team at the New England 200 on June 28 at Loudon, N.H. He earned a career-best 12th-place finish in the Team Pelfrey-Enginetics Dallara/Aurora/Firestone at the Pep Boys 400K on July 19 at Dover, Del.

The team and Tyler plan to enter the four remaining races this season, Jones said.

Team Pelfrey crew chief Don Basala was named as the second-round winner of the Good Moves Award presented by the Championship Association of Mechanics (CAM) and STP. Basala earned $1,000 for the award for mechanical excellence.

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Boat excited about return at Pikes Peak: Billy Boat is chomping at the proverbial bit to return to the Pep Boys Indy Racing League during the Radisson 200 on Aug. 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Boat missed league races in July at Dover, Del., and Charlotte, N.C., after suffering a broken left leg and broken pelvis in an accident during the New England 200 on June 28 at Loudon, N.H.

Despite his accident at New Hampshire, Boat doesn't plan to change his aggressive nature much behind the wheel of the Conseco-A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.

"Pikes Peak is a place where you can really race well because you can run side-by-side," Boat said. "It was pretty challenging last year because it got slick. Knowing that, we'll come into it a little smarter. As long as you have a good race car all day long, you've got a good shot to win."

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Rocky Mountain ties: There are plenty of Colorado connections for Pep Boys IRL teams as they head to Pikes Peak International Raceway for the Radisson 200 on Aug. 16.

Driver Buzz Calkins his father, team owner Brad Calkins, both live in Denver. Buzz and Brad graduated from the University of Colorado and are close friends with the school's head football coach, Rick Neuheisel.

1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier lives in Vail. 1998 Indy winner Eddie Cheever Jr. formerly lived in Aspen and still takes many vacations there with his family.

"This is God's country," Cheever said. "I lived in Aspen for six years and still bring my family here for vacations. With my clan and the Unsers living so close by, we should have a full house this weekend."

Cheever's teammate, Robby Unser, has won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb eight times. Unser was a former resident of Colorado Springs.

"The Unsers are making this race a real family affair," Unser said. "I expect to have over 20 of my folks drive up from Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It'll be great fun."

Driver Stan Wattles graduated from the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale in 1980.

"It was my favorite high school," Wattles said. "It was a funky, whole-wheat school, no jacket and tie like I had to wear in other schools. The students looked after the school, fed the pigs and took care of the property. It had an excellent academic program, and I did a lot of outdoor activities like rock-climbing, cross country and skiing."

Brad McCanless, team manager for McCormack Motorsports, graduated from the University of Colorado with an engineering degree in 1976. McCormack fields the TransWorld Racing-BELOIT G Force/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Raul Boesel.

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Hamilton entering the groove: Davey Hamilton is just 25 points behind Pep Boys IRL points leader Scott Sharp, and he thinks that Pikes Peak International Raceway is a good spot for him to make up ground in the Reebok-Nienhouse Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear.

After all, Hamilton is a former short-track superstar, and the 1-mile oval at PPIR is one of the league's "short" tracks.

"I enjoy tracks like Pikes Peak because it's a driver's track," Hamilton said. "It takes a good driver to keep up with the changes in the track, and those types of tracks are where I have had the most success.

Indeed. Hamilton has a third-place finish and two fourth-place finishes in the four races so far this season on 1-mile ovals. He was involved in an accident on the mile at Phoenix, finishing 26th.

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Ray plans return: Greg Ray has secured sponsorship from Best Access Systems and Mitsubishi, allowing him to compete in the last three races of the 1998 Pep Boys IRL season with Thomas Knapp Motorsport.

Ray will drive in the Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI on Aug. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Lone Star 500 on Sept. 20 at Texas Motor Speedway and the Las Vegas 500 on Oct. 11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"We are very grateful for them, and their support will get us to the last three races," Ray said. "We have not finalized anything for '99, but we feel we can make a strong showing with the sponsorships from Best Access and Mitsubishi."

Both companies sponsored Ray during the Indianapolis 500, in which Ray qualified second with TKM.

Ray followed with a close second to Billy Boat in the True Value 500 in early June at Texas Motor Speedway with TKM. The team was forced to park after the True Value 500 due to low funds.

Ray, from Plano, Texas, substituted for the injured Boat in A.J. Foyt's Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear the Pep Boys 400K at Dover Downs International Speedway, and the VisionAire 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, both in July.

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Guthrie looking for a ride: Pep Boys IRL driver Jim Guthrie is looking for a ride after leaving CBR-Cobb Racing recently.

Guthrie, 1996-97 Pep Boys IRL Rookie of the Year, left CBR-Cobb after driving for the new team at the Pep Boys 400K on July 19 at Dover, Del., and the VisionAire 500 on July 25 at Charlotte, N.C.

"We've been working on sponsorship," Guthrie said. "If I get sponsorship, I'll do my own team. If not, I'll do a deal with the best opportunity that arises."

This has been a tough season for Guthrie, who pulled off a big upset by winning the 1997 Phoenix 200 with a low-budget team.

Guthrie has qualified for just three races this season with two teams, as he started the season with ISM Racing. He was injured in a crash during the Indianapolis 500 and missed the next two races. His best finish this year is seventh at Dover.

"It's just been one of those years I hope to forget soon," Guthrie said. "Certainly not like last year. I'm going to be at the race (Pikes Peak) with my helmet, ready to race. If something opens up, I hope to be in the car."

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Boat, Guerrero make pitch to fight road rage: Pep Boys IRL drivers Billy Boat and Roberto Guerrero are spokesmen for a new public-service campaign designed to stop road rage on Arizona highways.

"Road rage" is a term used to describe aggressive, dangerous driving. Nearly one-fourth of American drivers acknowledge that they engage in aggressive driving, according to an AAA national survey.

The 30-second public service announcement, available in English and Spanish, was created by Phoenix International Raceway. The theme of the statewide multimedia campaign is "Don't Take it Personal … Don't Make it Personal. Stop Road Rage!"

Boat, driver of the Conseco-A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, is from the Phoenix suburb of Glendale. Guerrero, driver of the CBR-Cobb Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone, won the Indy-style race in 1987 at PIR.

PIR is the site of the annual Dura-Lube 200 Pep Boys IRL race.

Partners in the "Stop Road Rage" campaign include PIR, Cox Communications, the Arizona Republic and AAA Arizona. Officials in the Arizona governor's Office of Community and Highway Safety also are working with the campaign.

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Next event: Radisson 200, Aug. 16, Pikes Peak International Raceway, Fountain, Colo. Tickets are available by calling PPIR at (888) 306-7223.

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World Wide Web: http://www.indyracingleague.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jim Guthrie , Roberto Guerrero , Raul Boesel , Kenny Brack , Brian Tyler , Price Cobb , Stan Wattles , Paul Lau , Robby Unser , Stevie Reeves , A.J. Foyt