MANY TOP TEAMS EMERGING AS INDY RACING COMES TO ATLANTA Points leader Goodyear, Ward trying to hold off Ray, other hard chargers HAMPTON, Ga., July 7, 1999 - The sleeping giants of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League are starting to awaken...
MANY TOP TEAMS EMERGING AS INDY RACING COMES TO ATLANTA Points leader Goodyear, Ward trying to hold off Ray, other hard chargers
HAMPTON, Ga., July 7, 1999 - The sleeping giants of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League are starting to awaken as the second half of the 1999 season starts in Atlanta. A handful of top Indy Racing drivers are overcoming slow starts or temporary bobbles to emerge as contenders for the Pep Boys Million awarded to the league champion. Those drivers will try to gain ground on points leader Scott Goodyear at the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom on July 17 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It's hard to blame Goodyear and second-place Jeff Ward for looking over their shoulders at Greg Ray, who is on a rocket ride toward the top of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League point standings after five of 10 races. Ray finished a disappointing 21st in each of the first three races of the season in the Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone and was tied for 20th with 34 points after the Indianapolis 500 on May 30. It wasn't exactly the kind of start that most observers expected for Ray, immediately tipped as a title contender after joining top-drawer Team Menard before this season. But Ray finished second at the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom on June 12 at Texas Motor Speedway and broke through for his long-awaited first Indy Racing victory at the Radisson 200 on June 27 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Just like that, Ray found himself in third place in the point standings, 33 behind leader Goodyear. There's no question that Ray will be a contender for victory on the 1.54-mile oval at Atlanta. He loves the high-banked sister tracks at Atlanta, Texas and Charlotte and knows the secrets of speed and wheel-to-wheel racing on the 1.5-mile ovals. Kelley Racing teammates Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore are two other drivers starting to emerge as championship contenders. Neither driver has a victory this season, but consistency has carried them both into the top seven in the points. Sharp is tied with defending league champion Kenny Brack for fifth in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League standings with 109 points. He has finished in the top 10 in four of the five races this season in the Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Dismore is tied with Davey Hamilton for seventh with 107 points. He will be a threat for victory at this event in the MCI WorldCom Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, as he won the PPG Pole for the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom in June on the 1.5-mile oval at Texas. Hamilton is another candidate for the comeback kid of the season so far. He nearly didn't compete at the season opener in January in Orlando, Fla., but team owner Rick Galles assembled a crew just days before the race. Hamilton went on to finish eighth. After finishes outside the top 10 in the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix and Indianapolis, Hamilton has regained the formula of consistency that has helped him place second in the point standings the last two seasons. He finished seventh at Texas and a season-best third at Pikes Peak in the Galles Racing Spinal Conquest Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Hamilton could break through for his first league victory at Atlanta, as he finished second to Brack at this event last year. Another win waiting to happen could be Sam Schmidt. He finished second at Pikes Peak and third at Texas in the Sprint PCS G Force/Aurora/Firestone, pulling him from 26th to 11th in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League point standings. But with 101 points, Schmidt is just eight points out of fifth. It might sound ironic to consider Brack and Eddie Cheever Jr. as sleeping giants awakening, since each won a race earlier this season. But a strong case can be made that both are hitting their stride after setbacks. Cheever won the season opener at Orlando and then made a bold move by switching from the Aurora engine - winner of every event in league history - to the Infiniti engine before the Indianapolis 500. Cheever finished 18th at Indy and 16th at Texas but appears on the verge of a return to winning form after finishing a strong fourth at Pikes Peak in The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever Dallara/Infiniti Goodyear. Brack had a tough start to the season in the A.J. Foyt Racing Power Team Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, finishing 22nd at Orlando and 24th at Phoenix. But his year took a U-turn with a thrilling victory in the series' crown jewel, the Indianapolis 500. Since then, Brack has finished 13th at Texas and seventh at Pikes Peak to climb into a tie for fifth in the points. Besides Ray, Brack could be the driver that leaders Goodyear and Ward fear the most. After all, Brack didn't hit peak form last season until the summer stretch of races, winning a league-record three consecutive races, including this event. While many top drivers and teams are lining up to take their best shots at the top, Goodyear and Ward appear equipped to handle the pressure. Goodyear is the only driver with two victories this season, winning at Phoenix and Texas in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear co-owned by NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh. Goodyear has remained unflappable atop the point standings since late March while others shuffled positions beneath him. He leads Ward, 164-149, entering this event. Ward has been a model of consistency in his Yahoo!-MerchantOnline.com Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear this season as he strives for his first Indy Racing victory. He has finished in the top 10 in four of the five league races this season, including runner-up finishes at Phoenix and Indianapolis. And here's tough news for all of the sleeping giants trying to uproot the top two drivers in the points: Goodyear and Ward combined to lead 75 percent of the laps at this event last year. Goodyear led 93 of 208 laps en route to finishing fourth; Ward led 64 before finishing sixth.
KOBALT MECHANICS TOOLS 500 PRESENTED BY MCI WORLDCOM NOTEBOOK
Schedule: The Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom starts at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) July 17. Georgia Power Pole Night for the PPG Pole starts at 6 p.m. (EDT) July 16.
Practice sessions start at 5 and 8 p.m. (EDT) July 15, and 3 and 9:45 p.m. (EDT) July 16.
*** On the air: The Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom will be televised live at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) July 17 on FOX Sports Net. SpeedVision will televise PPG Pole qualifying live at 6 p.m. (EDT) July 16. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 7 p.m. (EDT) July 17, followed by the live race broadcast at 7:30 p.m. The area IRRN affiliate is WBTR-AM 1330 and WBTR-FM 92.1, Carrolton, Ga. The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.
*** Tickets: Tickets are available for the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom. Call (770) 946-4211 for more information. Ticket information also is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.atlantamotorspeedway.com .
Pep Boys Indy Racing League Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 Presented by MCI WorldCom At Atlanta Motor Speedway July 17, 1999 Car Driver Residence Car Name C/E/T Entrant Chief Mechanic 2 Greg Ray Plano, Texas Glidden/Menards D/A/F Team Menard, Inc. John O'Gara 2T Greg Ray Plano, Texas Glidden/Menards D/A/F Team Menard, Inc. John O'Gara 3 Raul Boesel Curitiba, Brazil b-fast Shopper/Brant Racing R&S MKV R/A/G Brant Racing Tony Kenter 3T Raul Boesel Curitiba, Brazil b-fast Shopper/Brant Racing R&S MKV R/A/ G Brant Racing Tony Kenter 4 Scott Goodyear Carmel, Ind. Pennzoil Panther G Force G/A/G Panther Racing Kevin Blanch 4T Scott Goodyear Carmel, Ind. Pennzoil Panther G Force G/A/G Panther Racing Kevin Blanch 6 Eliseo Salazar Santiago, Chile Nienhouse Motorsports Racing Special G/A/F Nienhouse Motorsports Don Basala 6T Eliseo Salazar Santiago, Chile Nienhouse Motorsports Racing Special G/A/F Nienhouse Motorsports Don Basala 7 Stephan Gregoire Indianapolis Dick Simon Racing/Mexmil/Tokheim/Viking Air Tools G/A/F Dick Simon Racing Rich Simon 7T Stephan Gregoire Indianapolis Dick Simon Racing/Mexmil/Tokheim/Viking Air Tools G/A/F Dick Simon Racing Rich Simon 8 Scott Sharp Carmel, Ind. Delphi Automotive Systems D/A/G Kelley Racing Mike Horvath 8T Scott Sharp Carmel, Ind. Delphi Automotive Systems D/A/G Kelley Racing Mike Horvath 9 Davey Hamilton Las Vegas Galles Racing Spinal Conquest D/A/G Galles Racing Darren Russell 9T Davey Hamilton Las Vegas Galles Racing Spinal Conquest D/A/G Galles Racing Darren Russell 11 Billy Boat Phoenix Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing D/A/G A.J. Foyt Enterprises Craig Baranouski 11T Billy Boat Phoenix Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing D/A/G A.J. Foyt Enterprises Craig Baranouski 12 Buzz Calkins Denver Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat G/A/F Bradley Motorsports Todd Tapply 12T Buzz Calkins Denver Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat D/A/F Bradley Motorsports Todd Tapply 14 Kenny Brack Karlstad, Sweden A.J. Foyt PowerTeam Racing D/A/G A.J. Foyt Enterprises Bill Spencer 14T Kenny Brack Karlstad, Sweden A.J. Foyt PowerTeam Racing D/A/G A.J. Foyt Enterprises Bill Spencer 17 Dr. Jack Miller Carmel, Ind. Mayfield/Aramark D/A/G Tri Star Motorsports Rob Grossman 20 Tyce Carlson Indianapolis Immke Auto Group/Hubbard Photographics D/A/F Blueprint-Immke Racing Greg Beck 20T Tyce Carlson Indianapolis Immke Auto Group/Hubbard Photographics D/A/F Blueprint-Immke Racing Greg Beck 21 Jeff Ward San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Yahoo!/MerchantOnline.com/Dalla ra/Olds D/A/G Pagan Racing Mitch Davis 21T Jeff Ward San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Yahoo!/MerchantOnline.com/Dallara/Olds D/A/G Pagan Racing Mitch Davis 22 Ronnie Johncox (R) Jackson, Mich. The Home Depot D/A/G Tri Star Motorsports Derrick Stephan 28 Mark Dismore Greenfield, Ind. MCI WorldCom D/A/G Kelley Racing TBA 28T Mark Dismore Greenfield, Ind. MCI WorldCom D/A/G Kelley Racing TBA 30 Jimmy Kite Stockbridge, Ga. Team Losi/Fastrod/McCormack Motorsports G/A/F McCormack Motorsports TBA 30T Jimmy Kite Stockbridge, Ga. Team Losi/Fastrod/McCormack Motorsports G/A/F McCormack Motorsports TBA 33 Jaques Lazier (R) Vail, Colo. Warner Bros. Studio Store/Truscelli Team Racing G/A/G Truscelli Team Racing Joe Wanninger 33T Jaques Lazier (R) Vail, Colo. Warner Bros. Studio Store/Truscelli Team Racing G/A/G Truscelli Team Racing Joe Wanninger 35 Steve Knapp Salem, Wis. ISM Racing/G Force/Aurora G/A/G ISM Racing Chuck Buckman Jr. 35T Steve Knapp Salem, Wis. ISM Racing/G Force/Aurora G/A/G ISM Racing Chuck Buckman Jr. 42 John Hollansworth Jr. (R) Dallas CompuCom/Lycos/TeamXtreme D/A/F TeamXtreme Racing, LLC Rob Stark 42T John Hollansworth Jr. (R) Dallas CompuCom/Lycos/TeamXtreme D/A/F TeamXtreme Racing, LLC Rob Stark 51 Eddie Cheever Jr. Orlando, Fla. The Children's Beverage Group/Team Cheever/Infiniti D/I/G Team Cheever Owen Snyder III 51T Eddie Cheever Jr. Orlando, Fla. The Children's Beverage Group/Team Cheever/Infiniti D/I/G Team Cheever Owen Snyder III 55 Robby McGehee (R) St. Louis Energizer Advanced Formula D/A/F Conti Racing Steve Fried 55T Robby McGehee (R) St. Louis Energizer Advanced Formula D/A/F Conti Racing Steve Fried 66 Scott Harrington (R) Indianapolis CertainTeed Building Products Special D/A/F Harrington Motorsports Darrell Soppe 81 Robby Unser Albuquerque, N.M. PetroMoly/Team Pelfrey D/A/F Team Pelfrey John King 91 Buddy Lazier Vail, Colo. Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Hemelgarn Racing D/A/G Hemelgarn Racing Dennis LaCava 91T Buddy Lazier Vail, Colo. Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Hemelgarn Racing D/A/G Hemelgarn Racing Dennis LaCava 92 Johnny Unser Hailey, Idaho Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet/Hemelgarn Racing D/A/G Hemelgarn Racing Dennis LaCava 92T Johnny Unser Hailey, Idaho Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet/Hemelgarn Racing D/A/G Hemelgarn Racing Dennis LaCava 98 Donnie Beechler Springfield, Ill. Big Daddy's BBQ Sauce and Spices D/A/F Cahill Auto Racing, Inc. Kevin Hertle 98T Donnie Beechler Springfield, Ill. Big Daddy's BBQ Sauce and Spices D/A/F Cahill Auto Racing, Inc. Kevin Hertle 99 Sam Schmidt Las Vegas Sprint PCS G/A/F Treadway Racing, LLC Rick Hurford 99T Sam Schmidt Las Vegas Sprint PCS G/A/F Treadway Racing, LLC Rick Hurford
Legend: Chassis: D=Dallara, G=G Force, R=Riley & Scott. Engine: A=Oldsmobile Aurora, I=Nissan Infiniti. Tire: F=Firestone, G=Goodyear. R=Rookie.
Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom FAST FACTS WHAT: Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom Sixth of 10 races in the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League WHERE: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Ga. 1.54-mile quad-oval superspeedway WHEN: 7:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, July 17, 1999 DISTANCE: 320 miles/208 laps POSTED AWARDS: More than $1 million
CARS: Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott chassis; Oldsmobile Aurora V8 and Nissan Infiniti Indy V8 engines; Firestone and Goodyear tires 1998 RACE WINNER: Kenny Brack 1998 PEP BOYS INDY Kenny Brack RACING LEAGUE CHAMPION: 1999 POINTS LEADER: Scott Goodyear TV: (Race) FOX Sports Net (live), 7:30 p.m. (EDT), July 17 Announcers: Jack Arute, Dave Calabro, Arie Luyendyk Pit reporters: Calvin Fish, Vince Welch (Qualifying) SpeedVision (live), 6 p.m. (EDT), July 16 Announcers: Jack Arute, Dave Calabro, Arie Luyendyk Pit reporters: Calvin Fish, Vince Welch RADIO: (Race) Indy Racing Radio Network (live), 7:30 p.m. (EDT) July 17. Pre-race show starts at 7 p.m. Area affiliates are WBTR-AM 1330, and WBTR-FM 92.1, Carrolton, Ga. Host: Mike King. Analyst: Larry Rice Pit reporters: Mark Jaynes, Doug Rice Backstretch reporter: Jerry Baker SCHEDULE (all times local): (Thursday, July 15) Noon: Pep Boys Indy Racing League garage opens 5-7 p.m.: Practice (Two groups) 8-10 p.m.: Practice (Two groups) (Friday, July 16) Noon: Pep Boys Indy Racing League garage opens 3-4:30 p.m.: Practice (Two groups) 6-7:30 p.m.: Georgia Power Pole Night qualifications for the PPG Pole 8:30-9:30 p.m.: Autograph session 9:45-10:15 p.m.: Final practice (Saturday, July 17) Noon: Pep Boys Indy Racing League garage opens 6:30 p.m.: Cars to grid 7:30 p.m.: Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 (320 miles/208 laps) TRACK RECORDS: (Qualifying) Billy Boat, 24.734 seconds, 224.145 mph, Aug. 28, 1998 (Race) Kenny Brack, 2 hours, 17 minutes, 15.289 seconds, Aug. 29, 1998 Average speed: 140.026 mph THE TRACK: 1.54-mile paved quad-oval Length of front straightaway: 1,471 feet Length of back straightaway: 1,380 feet Banking in turns: 24 degrees Banking on straightaways: 5 degrees Atlanta Motor Speedway underwent a dramatic change in 1997 to the tune of nearly $30 million. Included in the renovation and expansion process was the moving of the start finish line from the south side of the track to the north side and changing the configuration of the Hampton, Ga., facility from a 1.522-mile oval to a 1.54-mile quad-oval similar to Lowe's Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. In addition to this Pep Boys Indy Racing League event, Atlanta Motor Speedway annually plays host to two NASCAR Winston Cup Series events, including the season-ending NAPA 500 that generally determines the Winston Cup championship; one Busch Series Grand National division race, and two Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) races. The 870-acre facility also includes a 2.518-mile road course, a 1-mile infield road course and a quarter-mile Legends track. Atlanta Motor Speedway is the largest sports facility in Georgia, with more than 124,000 permanent grandstand seats. The track also has 138 luxury VIP suites. The nine-story Tara Place office and condominium complex houses AMS corporate offices and 46 condominiums. The track is available 365 days a year for meetings, commercial shoots, etc. and was rented for more than 262 days in 1998.
THE RACE: This is the second Pep Boys Indy Racing League event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Kenny Brack became the first driver in Indy Racing League history to win three consecutive races in one season after his win at Atlanta in 1998. Brack also won the VisionAire 500 on July 25, 1998 at Lowe's Motor Speedway and the Radisson 200 on Aug. 16, 1998 at Pikes Peak International Raceway driving for four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. Brack's teammate Billy Boat won the PPG Pole for this event in 1998, the fourth of six poles Boat won on his way to claiming the 1998 PPG Pole Master award. The Atlanta region has had a long tradition of open-wheel racing. The first Indy-style races in the Atlanta area took place from May 5-7, 1910 on a dirt track. Ray Harroun, who won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, won the first Indy-style race in Atlanta on May 5, 1910. It was his first career victory. An Indy-style race was held annually from 1946-1948 on a dirt track at Lakewood Park in Atlanta. USAC sanctioned champ-car races on the 1.522-mile oval at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1965-66 and 1978, with three-time Indianapolis 500 champion and current league advisor Johnny Rutherford winning in 1965. Buddy Lazier ushered in the Pep Boys IRL era at the track, turning a lap of 212.576 mph during a test on the new 1.54-mile quad-oval in November 1997. 1996-97 league champion Tony Stewart set an unofficial track record of 228.505 mph on July 7, 1998 during the league's inaugural Open Test at AMS.
RACE NOTES: Defending race champion Kenny Brack will become the all-time victory leader in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League if he wins the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom. Brack is tied with Arie Luyendyk with four career victories. Brack's most recent win was the 1999 Indianapolis 500. Brack had a three-race winning streak in 1998 beginning at Lowe's Motor Speedway, continuing at Pikes Peak International Raceway and ending at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Luyendyk's four career victories were at Phoenix International Raceway in 1996, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1998.
Jimmy Kite, a native of Stockbridge, Ga., will compete for the first time at AMS in an Indy Racing car. Three Indianapolis 500 winners are entered in this event: 1999 champion Kenny Brack, 1998 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. and 1996 champion Buddy Lazier. A.J. Foyt, car owner for Billy Boat and Kenny Brack, won the pole for the USAC open-wheel race in 1965 at AMS, finishing 19th. He finished fourth in the USAC race in 1978 at AMS. Johnny Rutherford, who drives the Oldsmobile Pace Car among his various league duties, won three Indy Racing events at AMS, in 1965 and 1979. Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver coach Al Unser competed in all of the USAC open-wheel races at AMS in the 1960s and late 1970s and all of the CART races at the track from 1979-83. The top five finishers in last year's league race at AMS have combined to win 11 events during their careers. Winner Kenny Brack has four victories, third-place Eddie Cheever Jr. has three, fourth-place Scott Goodyear has two, and fifth-place Tony Stewart has two. The top two drivers in this year's Pep Boys Indy Racing League point standings, leader Scott Goodyear and second-place Jeff Ward, combined to lead 75 percent of the laps at this event last year. Goodyear led 93 of 208 laps en route to finishing fourth; Ward led 64 laps before finishing sixth. Kenny Brack won this event last year by .944 of a second over Davey Hamilton. Four of the 11 league races in 1998 were decided by a second or less. SERIES NOTES: Five Pep Boys Indy Racing League rookies are entered in this event: Scott Harrington, John Hollansworth Jr., Jaques Lazier, Robby McGehee and Ronnie Johncox. John Hollansworth Jr. was the fastest rookie to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 this year, and qualified a career-best second two weeks ago at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Hollansworth is the first rookie to start on the front row of a Pep Boys Indy Racing League event since Billy Boat won the PPG Pole at Las Vegas in 1997. Hollansworth is leading the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year points standings.
Ronnie Johncox will make his second Pep Boys Indy Racing League start for co-car owner Tony Stewart driving The Home Depot Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear Tri Star Motorsports entry. Dr. Jack Miller also will make his second start of the season for the team in the Mayfield-Aramark Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.
Scott Goodyear enters this event as the series points leader. Goodyear took the points lead for the first time after winning the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix International Raceway in March in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. All engines in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League are required to operate at a maximum of 10,000 rpm. This new rule was instituted for the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom on June 12 at Texas Motor Speedway and continues throughout the remainder of the 1999 season. This follows the reduction in rpm from 10,500 in 1998 to 10,300 at the beginning of 1999. The required reduction in rpm, controlled by a "rev limiter," will result in reduced speeds produced by the Indy Racing cars without jeopardizing handling. Engine revs are controlled electronically by Pep Boys Indy Racing League technical officials. Teams are not capable of manipulating the "rev limiters." The Suspension & Wheel Management System (SWEMS) is required on every car competing in this event. The system was used for the first time during the 83rd Indianapolis 500. Pep Boys Indy Racing League officials along with car constructors Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott have worked vigorously to minimize the possibilities of wheel assemblies becoming detached during high-speed accidents. The SWEMS principle utilizes multiple restraints attached at multiple points to a car's chassis and suspension. The restraints are made of FIA-approved Zylon. This material, with its high-tensile properties and its wound construction, has a breaking strength of five tons.