VisionAire 500 FAST FACTS WHAT: Second annual VISIONAIRE 500 Seventh of 11 races in the 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League WHERE: ...
VisionAire 500 FAST FACTS
WHAT: Second annual VISIONAIRE 500 Seventh of 11 races in the 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League WHERE: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C. 1.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway WHEN: 9 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, July 25, 1998
DISTANCE: 312 miles/208 laps
POSTED AWARDS: More than $1 million
CARS: Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott chassis; Oldsmobile Aurora V8 and Nissan Infiniti Indy V8 engines; Firestone and Goodyear tires 1997 RACE WINNER: Buddy Lazier
1996-97 IRL CHAMPION: Tony Stewart
POINTS LEADER: Tony Stewart (not including Pep Boys 400K, July 19)
TV: (Race) The Nashville Network (live), 9 p.m. (EDT) July 25 Announcers: Eli Gold, Tom Sneva Pit reporters: Vince Welch, Bobby Gerould (Qualifying) SpeedVision (live), 8:30 p.m. (EDT) July 23 Announcers: Gary Lee, Derek Daly Pit reporter: Calvin Fish RADIO: (Race) IMS Radio Network (live), 9 p.m. (EDT) July 25 with a prerace show starting at 8:30 p.m. Local affiliates are WBT-AM, 1110, Charlotte, N.C., and WBT-FM, 99.3, Charlotte, N.C. Announcers: Bob Jenkins, Gary Lee Pit reporters: Mark Jaynes, Dave Calabro Turn reporters: Doug Rice, Mark Garrow SCHEDULE (all times local): (July 23, Pep Boys 10 a.m.: Pep Boys IRL garage opens Pole Night) 2:45-4:15 p.m.: Pep Boys IRL practice (Two groups) 5:30-7 p.m.: Pep Boys IRL practice (Two groups) 8-9:15 p.m.: Pep Boys IRL qualifications (All positions, best of two laps) 9:30 p.m.: Pep Boys IRL autograph session in garage area (July 24) Noon: Pep Boys IRL garage opens 2:15-3:45 p.m.: Pep Boys IRL practice (Two groups) 7:30-8 p.m.: Pep Boys IRL final practice (July 25) Noon: Pep Boys IRL garage opens 8:15 p.m.: Pep Boys IRL driver introductions 9 p.m.: VisionAire 500 (312 miles/208 laps) TRACK RECORDS: (Qualifying) Tony Stewart, 24.866 seconds, 217.164 mph, July 24, 1997 (Race) Buddy Lazier, 1 hour, 55 minutes, 29 seconds, July 26, 1997 Average speed: 162.096 mph THE TRACK: 1.5-mile paved tri-oval Front straightaway: 1,952.8 feet long Back straightaway: 1,360 feet long Banking in turns: 24 degrees Banking on straightaways: 5 degrees Charlotte Motor Speedway is the largest sports stadium in the Southeast, with 144,000 permanent seats. Built by area businessman O. Bruton Smith in 1960, the speedway played host to its first event, the World 600 NASCAR race, on June 19, 1960. The track now plays host to three NASCAR Winston Cup races per year and also is the site of many other events, including the VisionAire 500 Pep Boys IRL race. CMS is owned by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., which lists IRL racing venues Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway among its holdings. The 2,000-acre speedway complex includes a 1.5-mile tri-oval track, 52 condominiums, 102 VIP suites and a seven-story office tower housing the Speedway Club and the speedway ticket office. CMS facilities also include a $1.7 million track lighting system. THE RACE: This Pep Boys IRL event has taken place annually at Charlotte Motor Speedway since 1997. 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Lazier won the inaugural VisionAire 500 on July 26, 1997. Tony Stewart won the pole. RACE NOTES: Two-time USAC midget national champion Stevie Reeves is scheduled to make his Pep Boys IRL debut at this event with Pagan Racing. Reeves, who lives in the Charlotte area, joins the IRL after competing since 1994 in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series. Reeves is one of four Pep Boys IRL rookies entered in this event. The others: two-time defending USAC sprint national champion Brian Tyler, USAC standout Donnie Beechler and Robby Unser, son of three- time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser. Greg Ray will drive in this race for the injured Billy Boat in the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by racing legend A.J. Foyt. Boat suffered a broken left leg and a broken pelvis in a crash during the New England 200 on June 28 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Ray finished second to Boat in the True Value 500 on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway, and he earned the No. 2 starting spot at this year's Indianapolis 500. Three Indianapolis 500 winners are entered in this event: 1998 champion Eddie Cheever Jr., 1990 and 1997 champion Arie Luyendyk and 1996 champion Buddy Lazier. This may be only the second Pep Boys IRL event to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but open-wheel cars raced at the defunct Charlotte Speedway from 1924- 27. Winners on the 1.25-mile, high- banked wooden oval included Indianapolis 500 winners Tommy Milton and Peter DePaolo. SERIES NOTES: Defending Pep Boys IRL champion Tony Stewart has won the PPG pole at three of the four night races in series history, including the VisionAire 500 last year at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Stewart still seeks his first IRL race victory under the lights. Arie Luyendyk and Buddy Lazier are the first drivers to approach the $3 million IRL career-earnings mark in league history. Luyendyk had earned $2,876,853 during his IRL career before the Pep Boys 400K on July 19 at Dover, Del., while Lazier had earned $2,790,404. No Pep Boys IRL driver recorded a top-10 finish in each of the first five races of the season.
Race teams will be allowed to tow their cars to the garage from the pits for service during the race under an IRL rule instituted last October at the Las Vegas 500K. Teams are allowed to repair their cars in the garage and return to the race. Teams can't change their engines or chassis. Two IRL technicians must approve any repairs before the car returns to the track, with IRL Technical Director Phil Casey overseeing the process. All teams are aiming for the Pep Boys Million, a $1 million prize from Pep Boys to be split between the championship-winning driver and owner at the end of this season. STATISTICS: 1998 Pep Boys IRL 1998 MBNA (not including Pep point standings lap leaders Boys 400K, July 19) 1. Tony Stewart 167 1. Tony Stewart 2. Scott Sharp 150 410 3. Davey Hamilton 2. Billy Boat 129 132 4. Billy Boat 122 3. Eddie 5. Scott Goodyear Cheever Jr. 82 119 4. Jeff Ward 73 6. Jeff Ward 113 5. Scott 7. Kenny Brack 109 Goodyear 55 8. Eddie Cheever Jr. 104 1998 Pep Boys IRL 9. Buddy Lazier 103 winners 10. Stephan Gregoire 1. Tony Stewart 2 88 Buzz Calkins 88 2. Billy Boat 1 12. Arie Luyendyk 87 Eddie Cheever Jr. 1 13. Sam Schmidt 82 Scott Sharp 1 14. Mark Dismore 80 15. Greg Ray 78 Robbie Buhl 78 1998 PPG Poles 1. Billy Boat 2 Tony Stewart 2 3. Jeff Ward 1 1998 Pep Boys IRL 1998 wins by money leaders chassis 1. Eddie Cheever Jr. 1. Dallara 4 $1,538,300 2. G Force 1 2. Tony Stewart $655,050 1998 wins by 3. Buddy Lazier engine $640,000 1. Aurora 5 4. Billy Boat $629,650 1998 wins by tire 5. Davey Hamilton 1. Goodyear 3 $517,250 2. Firestone 2