IRL: Atlanta Goodyear Tire Race Report

SHARP IS SHARP AS GOODYEAR TIRES WIN ATLANTA IRL Scott Sharp didn't know what would happen at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday night because he and his Kelley Racing crew were still working on the car. "We came here with a brand-new setup...

SHARP IS SHARP AS GOODYEAR TIRES WIN ATLANTA IRL

Scott Sharp didn't know what would happen at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday night because he and his Kelley Racing crew were still working on the car. "We came here with a brand-new setup and even in the race we were having to sort the car out some, but we kept working and the race finally came to us," Sharp said. "Early on it seemed like the car was really on the edge, so I had to be really patient and stay on top of things."

Sharp took his Goodyear-equipped Delphi Electronics Dallara-Aurora to the lead of the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 on lap 179 and led the final 30 laps to win his fourth career IRL race by 0.163 second over Robby Unser under caution. Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack took third in the race, while Eddie Cheever (sixth), Davey Hamilton (seventh) and Billy Boat (10th) also finished in the top 10.

"Goodyear congratulates Scott Sharp and the Kelley Racing team on their well-deserved victory tonight, giving Goodyear five wins in the first six Indy Racing League events," said Paul Lauritzen, Goodyear IRL Operations Manager. "Goodyear's Eagle radials were excellent from start to finish and showed remarkable durability throughout the race. A number of our racers were able to move up through the field at the start, like Eddie Cheever who started 21st and was in the top 10 very quickly."

The win was the fifth straight for Goodyear in IRL night racing competition, and Goodyear has now swept the 1998 and 1999 night races.

"I have to take my hat off to Goodyear," Sharp said. "The tires were really good, they were very consistent. For my car, the tires couldn't have been any harder and they couldn't have been any softer, so they were the perfect compound. It's been almost a year since we've been here (in victory circle) and it feels real good."

Sharp led 42 laps on his way to a $120,500 victory. IRL points leader Scott Goodyear had the strongest car during the race, leading 52 of the 208 laps, but was bedeviled by battery troubles. Other Goodyear-equipped drivers to lead included Kenny Brack, Buddy Lazier, Billy Boat, Davey Hamilton and rookie Jaques Lazier. Lazier was the surprise of the race, setting the race's fastest lap of 215.097 mph and fighting for a podium finish in the closing stages before spinning and finishing 12th.

Goodyear-equipped drivers hold the first five positions in the IRL points. With a 16th-place finish, Scott Goodyear continues to lead the Indy Racing League standings with 180 points. Sharp moves into second with 159 followed by Jeff Ward, 153; Cheever, 149; and Brack, 144.

"This is a great way to start the second half of the season and we're looking for equal results at the next race in Dover," Lauritzen added.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Jaques Lazier  , Kenny Brack , Paul Lau , Robby Unser