PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 26, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League: Elliott clinches USAC title, Pep Boys IRL test: Tony Elliott finished 17th in the Sammy Sessions...
PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK
INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 26, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League:
Elliott clinches USAC title, Pep Boys IRL test: Tony Elliott finished 17th in the Sammy Sessions Memorial Oct. 25 at Winchester, Ind., good enough to clinch the Stoops Freightliner/USAC Sprint Car Series national title and earn a Pep Boys IRL test with Panther Racing.
Pep Boys IRL rookie Dave Steele won the 33-lap feature at Winchester Speedway. Elliott, from Kokomo, Ind., finished the season with 1,895 points for the first USAC national title of his career. Kevin Thomas was second with 1,833. The champions of the top three USAC divisions - Silver Crown, sprint and midget - each will receive a rookie test in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear in early December at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Pennzoil sponsors the program.
Ryan Newman will be the USAC Silver Crown representative at the test. He finished third in the final standings but earned the test because the top two drivers in the standings, champion Jason Leffler and second-place Brian Tyler, already have their IRL licenses. ***
Tough stock debut for Ward: Pep Boys IRL standout Jeff Ward failed to qualify in his NASCAR Winston Cup debut, the Dura-Lube/Kmart 500 on Oct. 23-24 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Ward's best speed was 123.916 mph in a Chevrolet owned by Bill Strauser of Walla Walla, Wash. Ken Schrader won the pole at 131.234 on the 1-mile oval at Phoenix. "It was tough," Ward said. "I wasn't worried about what these guys were doing, just what I could get out of the car. It just got to the point where it was either I'd push the envelope and bang it up, or just stay where I was at. I stayed where I was at. I need to jump up to the next level. "We came here and tested and ran decent. We came out here to run, get some track time, maybe learn something from a few of these guys, which I have. "We're just so far behind the 8-ball it's just not even comprehensible for us to even think about running with these guys right now. I learned a lot today, and when I get behind the wheel of the car next time, I'll be that much further ahead." Ward finished sixth in the Pep Boys IRL point standings this season, driving the Thermo Tech-Prolong-Superflo G Force/Aurora/Goodyear for ISM Racing. He will return to the Pep Boys IRL for the 1999 season. ***
LP Racing cruising: LP Racing proved that its Best Western Gold Crown Racing Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone was quite a hot rod at the season-ending Las Vegas 500K on Oct. 11, as driver Sam Schmidt finished a career-best second.
The team also pulled out its real hot rod to join the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour East from Oct. 17-25. LP Racing owners Larry and LeeAnne Nash, Schmidt and crew members joined thousands of hot rods and more than 125,000 hot rod devotees cruising down the East Coast.
The hot rod caravan stopped in Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The tour started in the Boston suburb of Fitchburg, Mass., and ended in St. Petersburg, Fla. A "cruise night" took place at every daily stop, with car displays, automotive vendors and concerts featuring such artists as surf-rock legend Dick Dale and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
LP Racing promoted the Pep Boys IRL at every stop, answering questions and distributing information about the team and league. The crew also provided mechanical help for Power Tour participants.