IRL: Treadway/McGehee Looking for Vegas Three-Peat

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, April 14, 2000 - It's that time in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series season again when teams put away the short track equipment and get ready to race wheel-to-wheel at more than 200 mph. After running the...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, April 14, 2000 - It's that time in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series season again when teams put away the short track equipment and get ready to race wheel-to-wheel at more than 200 mph. After running the first-two races of the season on the 1-mile short tracks of Walt Disney World Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, it's all about speed now. Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are the next tracks on the schedule. And if statistics from previous years can give a glimpse of the future, Robby McGehee and Treadway Racing should be a force at the Vegas Indy 300 on April 22 and the 84th Indianapolis 500 May 28. Treadway Racing has simply dominated the last two Northern Light Series races at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway desert oval, having won convincingly in 1998 with Arie Luyendyk and again in 1999 with Sam Schmidt. The team has been equally impressive at Indy. Treadway finished 1-2 at Indy in 1997 with Luyendyk and Scott Goodyear, and Luyendyk sat on the pole and had a commanding lead in 1999 when a Turn 3 accident on Lap 117 took him out of contention. Schmidt had led Laps 34-37 and was running fourth when a Lap 63 accident in Turn 1 ended his run. "We've just had some good basic setups (at Las Vegas)," said Skip Faul, Treadway Racing team manager and crew chief on McGehee's car. "We've been good out of the box and good on full tanks there, and the same setups have carried over there the past few years. We made some improvements last year that made the car even better, and we were able to pull off two-in-a-row." McGehee, now in his second year of Northern Light Series competition, proved in his rookie season that he is a contender on the superspeedways by posting his best finishes of the year at Indy and Las Vegas. Driving the Energizer Advanced Formula entry for Conti Racing, McGehee started 27th and finished fifth at Indy, earning him Bank One Rookie of the Year honors. At Las Vegas, he started 19th and finished sixth. McGehee, of St. Louis, moved to Treadway during the off-season and drives the #5 Mall.com-Energizer Advanced Formula G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. He finished 10th at Orlando and was leading at Phoenix on Lap 30 when he crashed in Turn 2. McGehee said the disappointment he experienced at Phoenix has him focused on success at Vegas, then Indy. "I think I've built a great working relationship with Skip Faul and the guys, and I've thought that I built a reputation as a guy that doesn't crash, and at Phoenix I hit the wall," said McGehee, 26. "I still don't know what I could attribute that accident to. I need to make sure that I don't let these guys down, and when they give me a good car I can win some races." Faul said the team may have to work through some minor inexperience issues with McGehee, but he is confident the team can repeat. McGehee took part in the Indianapolis 500 open test and recorded a top speed of 215.368 mph in his backup car. According to Faul, the information gathered this week at the 2.5-mile oval will help with preparations for Vegas. Indianapolis and Las Vegas are similar in that they both have long, fast straightaways and flat banking in the turns. Indy's turns have 9 degrees of banking, while Las Vegas has 12 degrees. "Indy and Vegas are a lot alike in aerodynamic setup and mechanical setup," said Faul. "The loads and ride heights are similar so a lot of information transfers. If everything goes to plan, we should be in good shape for Vegas." Despite the team's optimism and their status as defending Vegas Indy 300 champions, their return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway is met with a somewhat melancholy feeling because teammate Schmidt cannot be in the cockpit to defend his win. Schmidt, a resident of Henderson, Nev., a Las Vegas suburb, was paralyzed in a practice accident at Walt Disney World Speedway in early January. He is undergoing rehabilitation at the Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. "Obviously everybody has been extremely distraught over what happened to Sam, and he and his family our in our prayers daily," said McGehee. "A lot of what we do is for Sam because we wish he could be here as my teammate now." Faul said the team has dedicated the entire season to Sam, and Vegas is a focal point for that. "This whole season is for Sam, in a way," he said. "All our guys donated their prize money from Orlando to the Sam Schmidt Foundation, and we're running the Racing for Recovery decal for the season, and the fuel guys on our pit crew wear Sam's helmet paint scheme on their helmets. We talk to Sam a lot, and we all just hope for a full recovery." Just as the team's thoughts are with Sam, so is their commitment to the success in which Schmidt was a part, especially at Las Vegas.

-IRL/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Arie Luyendyk , Scott Goodyear , Sam Schmidt