IRL: Pep Boys IRL Weekly Notebook 98-08-19

.Kenny Brack: Brack ran out of fuel in Turn 4 on the final lap, but he hung on to win the second annual Radisson 200 on the 1-mile oval at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Brack earned his second consecutive Pep Boys Indy Racing League ...

.Kenny Brack: Brack ran out of fuel in Turn 4 on the final lap, but he hung on to win the second annual Radisson 200 on the 1-mile oval at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Brack earned his second consecutive Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory and his second win of the season in the Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt.

Brack, from Karlstad, Sweden, beat runner-up Robbie Buhl by 7.542 seconds. That margin of victory was created only because Foyt's team hit the jackpot on a fuel gamble late in the race.

On Lap 120 of the 200-lap race, Brack entered the pits for fuel and tires for the last time. Buhl and Stewart made their last stops on Lap 126, but they needed to stop for one last splash of fuel to finish. Buhl surrendered the lead to Brack on Lap 197 when he made a three-second stop in the Johns Manville-Menards Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, and Stewart stopped for a quick gulp of fuel one lap later in the Glidden-Menards Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone.

"The last five or six laps, we were half-throttle," Brack said. "I saw Tony behind me and figured he was having the same problems (with fuel) that I was.

"I think we had a really good car the whole time. My car was pretty stable."

Brack earned $112,950 for the victory and pulled into third in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League standings, just 10 points behind leader Stewart. Scott Sharp, who led entering this event, finished 11th and fell to second with 233 points.

Patience and pit strategy paid for Brack. He started fifth and used a conservative strategy early, running seventh at the halfway point. But he climbed into second by Lap 130 and led for the first time from laps 165-188.

"A.J. couldn't have given me a better car," Brack said of his car owner.

.Robbie Buhl: Buhl showed no signs of rust in the Johns Manville-Menards Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone after a two-race layoff, earning his best finish of the season.

Buhl, who started sixth, made a strong move to the front late in the race. He passed eventual winner Kenny Brack with authority on the back straightaway on Lap 189, building a lead of 3.593 seconds by Lap 192.

But Buhl was forced to dive into the pits on Lap 197 for a one-gallon gulp of fuel, surrendering the lead to Brack for keeps.

"It feels good to be back in the car," Buhl said. "Hopefully we'll finish up the year and have finishes like this the rest of the year.

"The last 25 laps were fun. The car was fun, and the guys were doing their job. This is a really nice way for me to come back. We were just playing the fuel game."

Buhl, Stewart and Brack were the only cars on the lead lap at the finish. .Jeff Ward: The statistics showed that Ward's ISM Racing-Superflo-Prolong G Force/Aurora/Goodyear was the dominant car of the event, but he ended up 20th after crashing on Lap 118 while holding a huge lead. Ward appeared headed for his first career Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory when he crashed between Turns 1 and 2. He led Buddy Lazier by 12.685 seconds on Lap 116 but crashed two laps later due to an apparent tire problem. He led three times for 97 laps, more than any other driver. Ward, who started second, took the lead from pole sitter Billy Boat at the start and led through Lap 11. He led laps 23-50 and 60-117. "It's pretty disappointing because we had such a good race car today," Ward said. "I believe we cut a tire. We went up in Turn 4 and barely made it through. It just took off on the straightaway and didn't feel good at all. By the time I got to Turn 2, it just went straight up to the wall." .Davey Hamilton: The elusive first career Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory keeps getting closer and closer for Hamilton. He led laps 127-164 in the Reebok-Nienhouse Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear but ended up fifth. Hamilton took the lead when leader Tony Stewart entered the pits for fuel and tires. Hamilton had stopped on Lap 119 and used those fresh tires to build a lead of 4.740 seconds over Brack by Lap 137. But Brack chased Hamilton and caught him on Lap 165, passing for lead between Turns 3 and 4.

Hamilton then was forced to make his final pit stop for fuel and tires on Lap 188 and ended up one lap down.

"Tough day, I guess, but a good day, really," Hamilton said. "Unfortunately, the car started to slow down, and we lost some positions. We're still in it for the points race, and I don't know another crew out there that is more hungry for a win than my crew."

Hamilton is fourth in the season standings with 219 points, just 23 behind leader Stewart. This was the fifth consecutive top-10 finish for Hamilton, becoming the league's king of consistency.

.Quick show: This race finished in 1 hour, 29 minutes, 52.649 seconds, the quickest race in Pep Boys Indy Racing League history.

The previous quickest race was the 1996 Indy 200 at Orlando, Fla. - the first race in league history. Buzz Calkins took 1 hour, 33 minutes, 30.748 seconds to win that race with a turbocharged engine. The previous quickest race with the league's current, normally aspirated engines was the 1997 New England 200 at Loudon, N.H., won by Robbie Buhl in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 50.574 seconds.

The race was slowed by only three caution flags for 28 laps, the fewest number of caution periods and laps in a league event this season. .Mile maestro: Stephan Gregoire finished fourth in the Blue Star Batteries-Chastain Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, tying a season best.

He also was fourth at the season-opening Indy 200 at Orlando, Fla., and the Dura-Lube 200 at Phoenix. Those two races and the Radisson 200 all took place on 1-mile ovals.

"Every time we have a 1-mile oval, we have a chance to compete with the rest," Gregoire said. "I don't know why. It's hard to explain. I'm very happy for the team."

.Guerrero gives a boost to Infiniti: Roberto Guerrero finished 21st in his debut in the CBR G Force/Infiniti/Firestone, but Nissan Infiniti engineers still were jumping for joy with the result.

The finish was misleading. Guerrero was running fourth - the best showing of the season by an Infiniti engine - when he was forced to the pits on Lap 107 with ignition and fuel pressure problems. He never returned to the race.

Guerrero qualified 10th for the new team, tying the best starting spot for the Infiniti engine in Pep Boys Indy Racing League history. Ironically, Guerrero also qualified 10th with an Infiniti at the 1997 Phoenix 200 while driving for Pagan Racing. He was released from Pagan in June 1998 and joined CBR - owned by former sports car racer Price Cobb - last month. "It's a real shame," Guerrero said. "I was having a blast. Nissan has absolutely improved a lot. What took us out was fuel pressure or the fuel pump. It was not anything in the motor."

.Comeback kid: Despite hobbling around the track on crutches, Billy Boat was fast all weekend where it counted - behind the wheel of his Conseco-A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Boat won his third PPG Pole of the season, setting a track-record speed of 178.571 mph. He was in the top three late in the race when he ran out of fuel on Lap 198, coasting home to a ninth-place finish in his first race since suffering a broken left leg and a fractured pelvis in the New England 200 on June 28 at Loudon, N.H.

"We didn't have a ninth-place race car," Boat said. "We had a top-three car. For the last few laps, I was just trying to hang on and salvage a top five. At least we ran all day. We'll come back and try to get them at Atlanta."

.Donnie does it: Rookie Donnie Beechler finished a career-best 10th in the Cahill Racing-Amerapress-Voxcom Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, the top-finishing rookie in the race.

Beechler's previous best finish was 19th at the VisionAire 500 at Charl otte, N.C. This also was the first race in which he was running at the finish.

"I knew we could do it," Beechler said. "I'm not trying to sound conceited. I knew that if we didn't run into any trouble that we would be good. We just hung in there. I'm glad we brought the car home in one piece."

.Kenny Brack became the first driver to win two consecutive Indy Racing League events since Arie Luyendyk won the Indianapolis 500 and True Value 500 in 1997.

.Kenny Brack tied a league record for most victories in a season with his second win of 1998. Tony Stewart and Scott Sharp each have two wins this year, and Arie Luyendyk won twice in 1997.

.Arie Luyendyk became the only driver to earn $3 million in career Indy Racing League earnings. Luyendyk earned $33,000 for his 22nd-place finish, pushing his career earnings to $3,019,653.

.Kenny Brack took the lead with just four laps remaining, the latest lead change of the season. Billy Boat took the lead from Greg Ray with seven laps remaining in the True Value 500 on June 6 at Fort Worth, Texas.

.If Tony Stewart wins the Pep Boys Million for the league championship, bonus points could prove the difference. Stewart leads Scott Sharp by nine points in the standings, 242-233. But Stewart has accumulated 17 points through qualifications and laps led during the race while Sharp has just two.

THE NEXT EVENT: Aug. 29, Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Ga.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Roberto Guerrero , Donnie Beechler , Kenny Brack , Price Cobb , A.J. Foyt