OLDSMOBILE MOTORSPORT REPORT: Saturday, July 17, 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 SCOTT SHARP SCORES OLDSMOBILE'S MILESTONE 25TH IRL VICTORY IN ATLANTA HAMPTON, Ga. - Scott Sharp ended a year of frustration when he...
OLDSMOBILE MOTORSPORT REPORT: Saturday, July 17, 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500
SCOTT SHARP SCORES OLDSMOBILE'S MILESTONE 25TH IRL VICTORY IN ATLANTA
HAMPTON, Ga. - Scott Sharp ended a year of frustration when he scored his first win of the season and the fourth of his career tonight in the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Sharp became the fifth different winner in six races this season and notched Oldsmobile's milestone 25th consecutive victory in Pep Boys Indy Racing League competition.
"I've been so frustrated, I wanted to do so much more for Kelley Racing," said Sharp. "My prayers were answered."
On a night that saw 16 lead changes among ten drivers, Sharp took the high road to the winner's circle. Running an outside line on the high-banked 1.5-mile oval, Sharp swept around Robby Unser for the lead on lap 179. A yellow flag two laps from the finish sealed the victory for Sharp.
"The most fun I had all night was going for that third line, going right around four or five cars," Sharp recalled. "The car wanted to run at the top, and I knew Robby wouldn't let me by underneath him. I had a good draft, faked to the inside, and just went right to the outside."
"I think that's what won the race for Scott," reported runner-up Unser, who equaled his career-best finish in Team Pelfrey's Oldsmobile Dallara. "Scott 's car was working up there where no one else was running and he didn't have to stop in traffic. I was married to the bottom of the race track. He had a good car and a good motor."
Defending race champion Kenny Brack completed Oldsmobile's sweep of the podium after starting 14th and finishing third in A.J. Foyt's Power Team Oldsmobile Dallara. "I was able to hang in the slipstream of Robby and Scott, but just couldn't really do anything," said the reigning Indy 500 champion. "Third is a good result, and all in all it wasn't a bad day - although winning is always sweet."
Twenty-six of the 27 starters used Oldsmobile engines. Seventeen cars were running at the finish of the 208-lap race, with 16 of them powered by Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8s. The race was slowed by seven caution periods for a total of 45 laps. Six drivers were involved in accidents; Steve Knapp was admitted to Atlanta Medical Center in serious condition with a fracture of the C7 vertebrae.
After setting a Pep Boys Indy Racing League record with six poles last season, Billy Boat regained his pacesetting form in qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Boat put A.J. Foyt's Harrah's Oldsmobile Dallara on the pole with a 215.251 mph lap, the 25th consecutive pole for Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8.
The IRL Indy cars returned to Atlanta with a new 10,000 rpm rev limit in effect, a 500-rpm reduction since last year's inaugural event when Boat set the absolute track record at 224.145 mph. "At the last two races we had the gear too low and were on the rev limiter in qualifying," Boat explained. "This time our competitors were on the rev limiter early, and that's what gave us the advantage." Boat finished tenth.
Sharp's win propelled him from fifth to second in the championship standings, 21 points behind Scott Goodyear. Goodyear led 52 laps, the most of any driver, but slowed to a 16th place finish with electrical problems.
"Our Comptech Oldsmobile really ran strong and hasn't missed a beat since went to 10,000 rpm limit," said race-winner Sharp. "I just tried to keep it close to the rev limiter all night."
The seventh round of the ten-race IRL series, the Mid-Atlantic 200, will take place at Dover Downs International Speedway in Dover, Del., on Sunday, August 1.
RACE SUMMARY: Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile oval, Hampton, Ga. Winner: Scott Sharp, Kelley Racing Delphi Automotive Services Oldsmobile Dallara Margin of Victory: .016 seconds (under caution) Average Speed: 141.77 mph
Top Five Finishers: Pos./Driver/Engine Laps 1. Scott Sharp/Oldsmobile 208 2. Robby Unser/Oldsmobile 208 3. Kenny Brack/Oldsmobile 208 4. Eliseo Salazar /Oldsmobile 208 5. Buzz Calkins/Oldsmobile 208
Pole: Billy Boat/Oldsmobile, 215.251 mph Fastest Lap: Jaques Lazier/ Oldsmobile, 215.097 mph
Manufacturer Results: Aurora Infiniti Laps Led 208 0 Starters 26 1 Running at Finish 16 1 Winning Oldsmobile Engine Builder: Comptech Machine
POINT STANDINGS: (After 6 of 10 events) Driver/Engine Wins Points 1. Scott Goodyear/Olds 2 180 2. Scott Sharp/Olds 1 159 3. Jeff Ward/Oldsmobile 0 153 4. Eddie Cheever/Nissan 1 149 5. Kenny Brack/Olds 1 144
Manufacturer Wins Points 1. Oldsmobile 6 66 2. Nissan 0 42
NEXT RACE: Mid-Atlantic 200, Dover Downs International Speedway, Sunday August 1 TV: FOX Sports