IRL: Atlanta Thursday Practice Report

Hampton, GA (July 15, 1999) - Sam Schmidt set the fastest lap in practice for Saturday night's Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom. Schmidt toured the 1.54-mile high banked superspeedway in 24.991 seconds at an average speed of...

Hampton, GA (July 15, 1999) - Sam Schmidt set the fastest lap in practice for Saturday night's Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom. Schmidt toured the 1.54-mile high banked superspeedway in 24.991 seconds at an average speed of 216.078 miles per hour.

"I had a tow, pure and simple," said Schmidt who finished second in his last Indy Racing League event at Pikes Peak International Raceway just three weeks ago. "The car was good right off the trailer today. I just got up under Greg Ray's gearbox and he towed me around on that 216. The car was just great."

Although Schmidt set his fastest lap of the day in this evening's session under the lights, Schmidt was fastest in this afternoon's session too. Schmidt just edged Scott Goodyear by twenty six one-thousands of a second when he set his fastest lap in the first session at 215.577 miles per hour.

"That 215 this afternoon was about the eighth or ninth lap out of the trailer," said Schmidt. "We had a whole list of things we wanted to try, so we went through that and didn't go any quicker. We put the 'right off the trailer setup' back on for this session. We're real happy, we ran 213 or 214 throughout the whole session."

Scott Goodyear was the second fastest driver of the day overall. After trying both the primary and spare car Goodyear settled on the spare for the race. "The two cars are very similar," said Goodyear. "We just rolled out the 4T to make sure it was a viable backup, and it ended up being great. We're still making some minor changes, and we'd like to shoot for the pole. But our main focus is on a good race car."

Eddie Cheever, winner of the 1999 Indianapolis 500, drove his Infinti-powered car to the third fastest time of the day. Cheever's best lap at 25.098 / 215.157 mph was set in his backup car. "This circuit is very fast," Cheever said. "This is going to be one of the most exciting races of the year. I wouldn't be surprised if there were two trains, one high and one low, five to six cars long."

The entire field of twenty eight cars was separated by under a second after each session today. The interval between the fastest and slowest driver in this afternoon's session was .719 of a second. In this evening's session, run under the lights, the interval was .74 of a second.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Scott Goodyear , Sam Schmidt