IRL: Atlanta Jeff Ward Preview

Yahoo! MerchantOnline Pagan Racing Team Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom Who: Driver - Jeff Ward Sponsors - Yahoo! - MerchantOnline.com Car - Dallara Oldsmobile ...

Yahoo! MerchantOnline Pagan Racing Team

Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom

Who: Driver - Jeff Ward Sponsors - Yahoo! - MerchantOnline.com Car - Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear What: Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500

Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Georgia 1.54-mile quad-oval superspeedway 320 miles / 208 laps

When: 7:30 P.M. (EDT) Saturday, July 17, 1999

Notes: Jeff Ward is currently second in the Pep Boys Indy Racing point standings trailing the leader by 15 points.

Jeff Ward has completed more laps than any other driver in Indy Racing League competition in 1999. He has completed 972 laps.

Jeff Ward and Buzz Calkins have both finished every Indy Racing League race this season. They are the only two drivers to be running at the completion of all five races this season.

Jeff Ward has led two races this season. He led three laps at the Indianapolis 500 and seven laps at the Texas Motor Speedway.

The Pep Boys Indy Racing League returns to the Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500. Saturday night's race will be the Indy Racing League's second visit to the 1.54-mile high banked superspeedway. In last year's race, Jeff Ward, driver of the Yahoo!/MerchantOnline/Pagan Racing/Dallara/Oldsmobile, turned in a stellar performance, leading 64 laps on his way to posting a sixth place finish.

"I really like night racing," said Ward. "It just amplifies everything. The cars really look spectacular at the speeds we're traveling. Plus it's a great track. Atlanta is a first class facility. The track is a lot like the Texas Motor Speedway. It has a small bump in turn one, but it's down low and we don't run down there."

The last time the Indy Racing League raced under the lights, the Pagan Racing team experienced mechanical problems, finishing eighteenth. But despite the eighteenth place finish, Jeff Ward still managed to garner 12 points, retaining second place in the driver point standings.

"No one can afford to have a problem now," said Ward. Everyone is so close that one problem is going to cost you in your chances for the championship."

Atlanta has been a good track for Jeff Ward. "We qualified on the front row at Atlanta last year. We had a good run going when a wheel problem dropped us back to finish sixth. We've put together a new engine package for this race and the whole team is really excited."

Ward has yet to win is first Indy Racing League race. The seven time motorcycle champion knows his first win is just a matter of time. "I always race to win," Ward said confidently. "But I'm not going to jeopardize a second or third place finish to race for a win if I don't have the car. At Pikes Peak we were conservative on the setup and I didn't have the car. We've made some changes and I think we'll have the car to win at Atlanta. Winning depends on where the yellows fall and what I can get out of the car. If I've got the car I'll be running at the front."

The Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 takes the green flag at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 17, 1999. Live television coverage will be provided by FOX Sports Net. The Indy Racing Radio Network will provide a live radio broadcast starting with pre-race coverage at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Local affiliates are WBTR-AM 1330, and WBTR-FM 92.1 in Carrolton, Georgia.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Jeff Ward