IRL: Crucial summer stretch starts at Texas

CRUCIAL SUMMER STRETCH STARTS AT TEXAS FOR INDY RACING DRIVERS Indy winner Brack, Ward seek to continue momentum in Pep Boys Indy Racing League FORT WORTH, Texas, June 3, 1999 - There's little doubt that the two weeks of practice, ...

CRUCIAL SUMMER STRETCH STARTS AT TEXAS FOR INDY RACING DRIVERS Indy winner Brack, Ward seek to continue momentum in Pep Boys Indy Racing League

FORT WORTH, Texas, June 3, 1999 - There's little doubt that the two weeks of practice, qualifications and racing at the Indianapolis 500 are one of the toughest grinds of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League season. But just days after Indy, there's no rest for the weary. The crucial summer stretch is here. The Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom, June 12 at Texas Motor Speedway, starts a vital stretch of five races that could go a long way toward deciding which driver earns the coveted Pep Boys Million as league champion. The 208-lap race on the 1.5-mile quad-oval at Texas starts at 6:30 p.m. (CDT) and will be televised live on FOX Sports Net. Teams will criss-cross the country during this stretch - starting in Texas, then hitting Colorado Springs, Colo., Atlanta and Dover, Del., before returning to Colorado Springs on Aug. 29. Only two races remain afterward. No one knows the importance of this span of races better than newly crowned Indianapolis 500 champion Kenny Brack. He won a league-record three consecutive races during July and August last year, vaulting him to the league championship and the Pep Boys Million. Brack, who lives in Houston, climbed from 27th to seventh in the league point standings with his victory at Indianapolis in the A.J. Foyt PowerTeam Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. He was seventh after the "500" last year and didn't start his streak until two races after Indianapolis. Momentum clearly is on Brack's side. Another driver on a rocket ride entering Texas is Jeff Ward. He finished second to Brack at Indianapolis but climbed to the top of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League point standings. He leads second-place Scott Goodyear, 115-96. Billy Boat is third at 90. Ward, the league's king of consistency, has finished third, second and second in three starts this season. He still seeks his first career victory, but the final ingredient of the winning recipe may have been added last month. Pagan Racing, which fields the Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Ward, landed Yahoo! as a primary sponsor and MerchantOnline as an associate sponsor for the season. Still, it won't be easy for Ward to keep the lead with Goodyear and Boat in pursuit. Goodyear finished second at the season-opening Indy 200 in January at Orlando, Fla., and won the MCI WorldCom 200 in March at Phoenix to take the points lead. He also has led 170 laps this year, more than any other driver. But a disappointing 27th-place finish at Indy dropped him to second in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. But Goodyear is one of the league's specialists on 1.5-mile, high-banked ovals. He finished fourth at this event last season, and third at Charlotte, N.C., and fourth at Atlanta - sister tracks to TMS. Boat entered this event last year seeking revenge after a 23rd-place finish at Indy. He earned the ultimate payback with a thrilling victory over Greg Ray by .928 of a second. This year, Boat finished a strong third at Indy in the A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. He also appears to have discovered the secrets of consistency that eluded him last year, finishing ninth, fourth and third in three starts this year. Boat also hasn't forgotten how to push the pedal to the floor. He qualified third at Indy in a dramatic run despite three earlier crashes. That speed could come in handy at Texas, one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. Speaking of speed, no driver has shown more this season than Ray, from Plano, Texas. Ray started second at the Indy 200 and the Indianapolis 500 and won the PPG Pole at the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix. But he has encountered countless gremlins during races, finishing 21st in all three events this season in the Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Texas Motor Speedway would be a perfect place for him to emerge with his first career victory before family, friends and fellow Texans. Two rookies also could contend for victory at this event. John Hollansworth Jr., from Dallas, leads the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year point standings in the Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Robby McGehee made an impressive league debut at Indianapolis. He finished fifth en route to Bank One Rookie of the Year honors for that event in the Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. McGehee has plenty of experience on the high-banked 1.5-mile ovals at Atlanta, Charlotte and Texas through his experience in the U.S. F2000 series and in Pep Boys Indy Racing League testing.


Schedule: The Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom starts at 6:30 p.m. (CDT) June 12. Qualifying for the PPG Pole on Budweiser Qualifying Night starts at 8:15 p.m. (CDT) June 10. Practice sessions start at 2 and 5 p.m. (CDT) June 10, and 1:45 and 4:45 p.m. (CDT) June 11. On the air: The Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom will be televised live at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) June 12 on FOX Sports Net. SpeedVision will televise PPG Pole qualifying live at 9 p.m. (EDT) June 10. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 7 p.m. (EDT) June 12, followed by the live race broadcast at 7:30 p.m. The Fort Worth-area IRRN affiliate is WBAP-AM, 820. The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and, the world's leading Web broadcast site. Tickets: Tickets are available for the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom on June 12. Call (817) 215-8500 for more information. Ticket information also is available on the World Wide Web at .

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Jeff Ward , Billy Boat , Kenny Brack , A.J. Foyt