GOODYEAR KEEPS THE HEAT ON HIGH AS INDY RACING LEAGUE ENTERS SEASON'S SECOND HALF IN ATLANTA When it comes to hot racing, Goodyear is definitely on a hot streak. Goodyear-equipped teams won four of the first five Indy Racing League...
GOODYEAR KEEPS THE HEAT ON HIGH AS INDY RACING LEAGUE ENTERS SEASON'S SECOND HALF IN ATLANTA
When it comes to hot racing, Goodyear is definitely on a hot streak. Goodyear-equipped teams won four of the first five Indy Racing League and dominate nearly every league statistic.
When it comes to hot places to race, there's few cities that can top Atlanta. NASCAR, sports cars and this weekend's Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway prove that every season is racing season in Georgia.
The high-banked oval at Atlanta opens the second half of the 1999 Indy Racing League season on Saturday night. Atlanta is also the final night race in the 1999 IRL calendar and Goodyear looks to keep its after-dark winning streak alive, having captured the last four races, sweeping the 1998 races at Texas (Billy Boat), Charlotte (Kenny Brack) and Atlanta (Brack again), and opening 1999 with a win at Texas (Scott Goodyear).
Although it suffered its lone setback in Colorado three weeks ago, Goodyear's priorities remain the same. "Goodyear is looking to maintain its No. 1 position at each Indy Racing League event," says Paul Lauritzen, Goodyear's operations manager for the IRL."
Those priorities, coincidentally, are the same as defending champion Brack, who holds the Indy Racing League record for consecutive wins.
"My strategy is to try and win all the races," says Brack. "I know how to win in Atlanta, which is good. To be able to do it again we need to have all the details in order and I think we'll come to Atlanta (as) a very strong and motivated team.
"I like all kind of different tracks but the 1.5-mile superspeedway tracks in Atlanta, Texas and Charlotte I like even more," adds the Swedish native. "The reason is it's fabulous for racing. You race two- and three-abreast. There's so much excitement and many opportunities to overtake and it's fast."
Brack made history last year when he became the first driver to win three consecutive Indy Racing League events (Charlotte, Pikes Peak, Atlanta). Brack passed Jeff Ward going into Turn 1 on lap 195 and then held off a hard-charging Davey Hamilton, winning by 0.944 seconds. The victory also gave the A.J. Foyt Enterprises team a sweep of the 1998 IRL night races and propelled Brack to the top of the 1998 Indy Racing League standings, a position he would not relinquish.
The Atlanta oval is familiar to Goodyear and the tire company is no stranger to victory circle there. And Goodyear is bringing a race-proven product to the Georgia track. "Our Atlanta tire is based on the winning formula for the high-banked tracks that captured the front-row starting spots and race victory at Texas last month," Lauritzen says.
"The high-banked track at Atlanta is one of the most competitive tracks the IRL visits each year. The 24-degree banking allows the cars to generate more downforce through the turns and that helps the Goodyear Racing Eagles to develop more grip, a combination that should make for some exciting racing," Lauritzen adds. "The recent engine rpm restrictions that the sanctioning body has imposed for this event will slow the cars down and should help make the racing closer."
Brack will face stiff competition from a number of Goodyear-equipped racers, including A.J. Foyt Enterprises teammate Billy Boat, IRL points leader and two-race winner Scott Goodyear and Orlando winner Eddie Cheever. Other Goodyear racers in the IRL top-10 include second-placed Jeff Ward from Pagan Racing, Kelley Racing’s Mark Dismore and Scott Sharp and Hemelgarn Racing’s Buddy Lazier (ninth).
Also racing on Goodyear Eagles are Johnny Unser (Hemelgarn Racing), Raul Boesel (Brant Racing), Davey Hamilton (Galles Motorsports Spinal Victory), Jaques Lazier (Truscelli Team Racing), Steve Knapp (ISM Racing) and the Tri Star Motorsports entries of Ronnie Johncox and Dr. Jack Miller.
Brack is the top money-winner on the Indy Racing League circuit at the halfway point of the season, another category where Goodyear-equipped drivers dominate the standings. The winner of the Indianapolis 500, Brack has won $1,594,290 to date. Jeff Ward is second in earnings with $800,150, followed by Billy Boat ($615,800), Scott Goodyear ($610,450) and Eddie Cheever Jr. ($522,000). Goodyear racers Buddy Lazier, Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore are also among the top 10 money earners.
Goodyear racers also lead the way in a number of other IRL categories including laps completed (Jeff Ward, 972 of 1,008), laps led (Scott Goodyear, 213 of 1,008) and race winners (Scott Goodyear, two wins in five races).