GOODYEAR TIRE READY FOR INDY RACING LEAGUE 'TEXAS SHOOTOUT' FORT WORTH, Texas (Oct. 15, 1999) -- The numbers are in Goodyear Tire's favor entering this weekend's Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the final race of the 1999 Indy Racing...
GOODYEAR TIRE READY FOR INDY RACING LEAGUE 'TEXAS SHOOTOUT'
FORT WORTH, Texas (Oct. 15, 1999) -- The numbers are in Goodyear Tire's favor entering this weekend's Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the final race of the 1999 Indy Racing League championship. After 10 months, nine races, 2,436 racing miles and thousands of miles more in testing and practice, only six drivers remain in contention for the IRL's driver's title.
Goodyear-equipped driver Kenny Brack, driving for the legendary A.J. Foyt, is just 13 points shy of points leader Greg Ray, a slim margin in the IRL's points system. Three more Goodyear drivers -- Kelley Racing's Scott Sharp, Panther Racing's Scott Goodyear and Hemelgarn Racing's Buddy Lazier -- also are focusing their sights on the $1 million championship payoff, giving the race a flavor of a Texas Shootout.
One of the components that Brack, Sharp, Goodyear, Lazier and nine additional entries will have in their holster will be Goodyear Eagle IRL Racing Radials. Goodyear-equipped cars have won the majority of the races in the fiercely competitive series, including the previous two races staged on 1.5-mile high-banked superspeedways. In June, Scott Goodyear won the Longhorn 500 at Texas, while Sharp captured the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
With the championship on the line, pre-race testing took on added importance for Goodyear and its teams at Texas. Ten drivers from seven teams arrived in mid-September to assist the Goodyear engineers in the tire selection process.
"Goodyear engineers made a significant effort to find the most competitive tire for the Texas finale," says Paul Lauritzen, Goodyear's IRL operations manager. "After some well-publicized tire issues at last year's race, Goodyear rebounded at June's Longhorn 500 with a win and a pole. Goodyear has a new tire that is very consistent and fast and we feel it will enable the Goodyear-equipped teams to secure high finishes. During the test, most of the teams were able to run faster than Mark Dismore's pole speed in June."
That selection process seemed to please Brack in his bid to become the IRL's first repeat champion. "At the test the tires seemed to work good," says Brack, who has finished in the top 10 in the past five races. "Hopefully, we have covered all the bases and we will be able to compete hard.
"As always, anything can happen," Brack adds. "We are going to Texas to score another championship. We have already proven ourselves and we don't feel any extra pressure. We will do what we always do, our best."
The IRL drivers' championship is not the only title that will be decided at Texas. Also up for grabs is the IRL entrants' championship, with A.J. Foyt Enterprises closing in on Team Menard.
Jaques Lazier, driving for the Goodyear-equipped Truscelli Team Racing, is currently third in a very tight battle for Rookie of the Year honors.
A pair of Goodyear drivers, Tri Star Motorsports' Robbie Buhl and Team Cheever's Eddie Cheever, are the leading contenders to claim the $50,000 bonus for the MCI WorldCom Long Distance award, presented to the driver who gains the most positions from start to finish. Buhl and Cheever each have won the award twice this season.
Finally, Goodyear can clinch the unofficial season title for tire manufacturers in Texas with its sixth victory in 1999. "With five wins this season, including the Indianapolis 500, Goodyear has proven to be the tire the winners rely on in the Indy Racing League," Lauritzen adds. "Goodyear can claim the 1999 tire manufacturers' honors with a win this weekend, but it is just as important to make sure that our Goodyear-equipped teams and drivers get to victory lane and claim as many top finishing positions as possible at every race we compete in. We're looking to help our teams earn the IRL drivers' and entrants' championships."
Goodyear's IRL wins include the Brack-led 1-2-3 sweep at the Indianapolis 500. Scott Goodyear has won twice this year, at Phoenix in March and Texas in June. Sharp jumped into championship contention with a well-deserved victory in Atlanta and Cheever won the season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway.
Also racing on Goodyear Eagles in Texas are Davey Hamilton from Galles Racing Spinal Conquest, Pagan Racing's Jeff Ward, Kelley Racing's Mark Dismore, Billy Boat from A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Hemelgarn Racing's Johnny Unser and Tri Star's Ronnie Johncox.