IRL Aurora V8 Roars in Indy Car Racing's Return to Atlanta Hampton, Ga.; August 29, 1998 - The inaugural Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI was a race of firsts - the first night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the first Indy car race in ...
IRL Aurora V8 Roars in Indy Car Racing's Return to Atlanta
Hampton, Ga.; August 29, 1998 - The inaugural Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI was a race of firsts - the first night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the first Indy car race in Atlanta since 1983, and the first Oldsmobile victory in a major motorsports event at AMS since 1979. Kenny Brack also made history tonight when he became the first driver to win three straight Pep Boys Indy Racing League events. Brack backed up his previous wins in Charlotte and Pikes Peak with a .944-second victory over Davey Hamilton in the ninth round of the 11-race series. Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 dominated Indy car racing's return to the heart of stock car country as Brack led an Oldsmobile sweep of the top 18 positions.
An estimated crowd of 61,000 fans turned out on a hot night in Georgia to see Brack become the first Oldsmobile driver to stand in the Atlanta Motor Speedway winner's circle since NASCAR stock car driver Buddy Baker won the Atlanta 500 in 1979. By capturing the first two of the three races in the MCI Pep Boys Million Dollar Driver Sweepstakes in A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile-powered Dallara, Brack clinched a $100,000 bonus. If he also wins the season finale in Las Vegas on October 11, he will share a $1 million prize with an IRL fan.
Brack's third straight victory propelled him to a 10-point lead over Hamilton in the race for the IRL championship. The 32-year-old Swedish driver led a total of 17 laps and averaged 140.026 mph. "I have a great team, and A.J. set the car up real good," said Brack. "I just think about the racing, and everything else will take care of itself."
Runner-up Hamilton led 19 laps and posted the best finish of his IRL career in Nienhouse Motorsports' Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. "The race tonight was unbelievable when you can run that many laps wide open," said Hamilton. "It was like a 300-mile dyno test. Our Oldsmobile engine really hung in there. We might have been off a little on the gearing, but we weren't scuffing off much speed in the corners because the engine only dropped 300 rpm in the turns. I was just hoping for a lot of green-flag racing so I could keep it wide open."
Eddie Cheever's third-place finish was his best result since he won the Indianapolis 500 in May. "It takes a lot of horsepower and getting your strategy right to win three races in a row," Cheever commented. "I think Foyt's engines are the best right now because he made them the best. These are hard tracks to run. After you leave the pits, you do not take your foot off the throttle. I did 30 laps in one segment without every lifting off the throttle, so it really runs the car hard."
Tony Stewart made a remarkable comeback to lead 12 laps and finish fifth after starting last in the 28-car field. "We're just happy the car ran well," said Stewart, who left Atlanta in third place in the championship standings. "It was quite a shock to be leading this race."
Racers using Oldsmobile engines led all 208 laps (320 miles) on the 1.54-mile oval. Ten cars were running at the finish - all of them powered by IRL Aurora V8 engines. The highest placed Nissan entry finished 19th.
Twenty-five of the 28 starters (89% of the field) for the ninth round of the 11-race IRL series used Oldsmobile engines. Billy Boat won the pole for the second straight race in A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. Boat's 224.145 mph pole-winning lap set the AMS track speed record, eclipsing the previous record set by Geoff Bodine's NASCAR Winston Cup stock car by more than 26 mph.
The next event for the IRL Aurora V8 will be the Lone Star 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday, September 20. The Lone Star 500 will be televised live on CBS at 3:00 p.m. EDT.