RAY WINS MBNA MID-ATLANTIC 200, CLOSES IN ON POINTS LEAD DOVER, Del., Aug. 1, 1999 - Greg Ray won the MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200 on Sunday at Dover Downs International Speedway, climbing to second in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League points...
RAY WINS MBNA MID-ATLANTIC 200, CLOSES IN ON POINTS LEAD
DOVER, Del., Aug. 1, 1999 - Greg Ray won the MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200 on Sunday at Dover Downs International Speedway, climbing to second in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League points standings, two points behind leader Scott Goodyear.
Ray, from Plano, Texas, took the lead for good on Lap 173 by passing Stephan Gregoire on the inside of Turn 1. Ray, who started third, then drove his Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone to a victory over Buddy Lazier by .731 of a second. Lazier started 17th in the Delta Faucet-Coors Light-Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.
It was the second victory of the season for Ray, tying him with Goodyear for the most wins this year. Ray also won the Radisson 200 in June at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
"We should have had more wins earlier in the season, but we won the two toughest races of the year," Ray said. "It is called the 'Monster Mile,' but it's fun. We stayed with our strategy the whole time."
Ray earned $142,700 for the victory, the second of his Indy Racing career. His average speed was 114.258 mph in a race slowed by five caution periods for 56 laps.
1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack finished third in the A.J. Foyt Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, while his teammate, Billy Boat, finished fourth in the Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Sam Schmidt finished fifth in the Sprint PCS G Force/Aurora/Firestone.
Ray gradually pulled away from Gregoire and Schmidt after making his decisive pass, as Gregoire and Schmidt had trouble navigating lapped traffic. Gregoire and PPG Pole winner Mark Dismore were eliminated in an accident on Lap 189, bringing Ray back to the field. Dismore, who led a race-high 91 laps, and Gregoire were unhurt.
Ray pulled away on the restart on Lap 197 and held off Lazier.
Defending event champion Scott Sharp started second but finished 22nd after hitting the outside retaining wall in Turn 4 on Lap 35, the first incident of the event.
Goodyear remains on top of the points standings despite fighting multiple problems throughout the event, eventually finishing 17th. Goodyear was eliminated with timing-chain problems after completing 143 of the 200 laps on the 1-mile concrete oval.
The next Pep Boys Indy Racing League event is the Colorado 200 on Aug. 29 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo.
GREG RAY (Winner): "My team has been doing a great job. It's a little disappointing. We should have had more wins earlier in the season. But we won the two toughest races of the year. It is called the 'Monster Mile,' but it's fun. We stayed with our strategy the whole time. During the last yellow, there were some cars out of sequence, and we had to do some passing. But we stuck with our strategy." (About pass on Mark Dismore): "The pass on the backstretch, it was the first time I had to deal with a lot of traffic. Everyone swung high with cold tires, and we ran a low line like we've been doing in practice all week. Dismore was definitely the guy to beat. Passing him was the biggest point of the race for me. (Scott) Harrington was running real defensive, and (team manager) Thomas Knapp said not to do anything crazy. But I stuck with him and eventually got around. We knew we weren't going to qualify here as well as we could. We stole a point in qualifying here, and it is extremely close and exciting (points race). I wasn't getting antsy to get in front because I knew we weren't the fastest. I thought Dismore was the fastest. I was just trying to stay out of trouble. With 50 laps to go, we began to push it. If I could have gotten through (to the checkered) with the last yellow, I would have. I'm a lover, not a fighter. Signing on with John Menard and Thomas Knapp was a situation where I could have my cake and eat it, too. This is the best year of my life. It's definitely a dream year." (About Eliseo Salazar's crash): "I was really concerned for Salazar. The back of his car was really beat up, and there was a lot of debris on the track. But I was happy that both Salazar and (John) Hollansworth were OK. Driving a car is not a regulation sport, like hockey or basketball or baseball or football. To some extent, I mean they are regulation fields. So no matter where you go, they're always very similar. We have a wide variety of tracks, and I really like tracks like this. I remember how it felt the closing laps at PPIR, and I started getting goose bumps. It was very emotional, and I want to get used to the feeling of getting emotional. I think these kind of tracks are great, and Dover is a great place to come to. It's so fun."
BUDDY LAZIER (Second): "I was just driving real hard. This place is just so grueling. You've got to be in real good shape. It's like when you run a long, long distance, like a marathon, and you hit a wall. You hit the wall about 100, 120 laps here. I think it's even worse with the heat this year, and you just can't cool off. I'm not made for this (heat), I'm made for the mountains." (About finishing second two years in a row): "Harrington, I've got to say, did a great job trying to let us race for the victory. I know he missed a gear." (Comparing Dover to Winchester Speedway): "I have seen Winchester (Speedway). I don't know. This place is unlike anything I've ever seen. It's the most grueling part of 18 years that I've been racing in motorsports. I think it has a lot to do with the concrete, the G's you're pulling, the awesome grip that you have. I don't know what to tell you. And then, with this heat, it's enough to pretty much kill you. I mean, it's tough. It really is. I bet you Kenny (Brack) is not sweating as much as me, but he's sweating a lot. I'm sure we lost a lot of water today. I'll have to get rehydrated. Because of heat, you know there's going to be a whole lot of guys that physically are not going to be able to continue. Then they are going to make mental mistakes. When you've got something this grueling, you want to keep going and keep pushing because you know it can turn real quick. You've got to be tough to be able to finish this thing, let alone finish at speed."
KENNY BRACK (Third): "We had a good run. We've been trying to find speed ever since we got here. We've got to be happy to finish third. We couldn't stay up with Ray and Buddy so I'm happy to finish third." (About making move for championship like he did about this time last year): "Five races ago, we set ourselves a goal to win two more races this year and finishing good in the rest of the three. I think two third places is pretty good, but we're still looking for those two victories. I don't know where we're going to get them. We're going to go back home and evaluate what we had here and try to make the car and the package faster to run at Colorado. There's a lot of strong competitors. There's probably six or seven drivers that are in the championship right now, so the slightest little mistake, you're out of it. You've got to keep scoring good and make no mistakes. That's the name of the game. We'll see when we get to Texas how we're doing."
SCOTT GOODYEAR (Points leader, finished 17th): "We lost a motor. We've had a bit of a weird weekend here. Testing went well. It's been so weird because practice went well on Friday, and then Saturday the problems started, qualifying in the middle of the pack."
MARK DISMORE (PPG Pole winner, finished 15th): "I had the best car out there today. But this track is extremely hard to pass on. Unfortunately, going for the win, we got caught up in a racing accident. The MCI WorldCom team took another step forward trying to win a race, and we look forward to Pikes Peak."
TOP 10 IN PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE POINTS STANDINGS: 1. Scott Goodyear 193 2. Greg Ray 191 3. Kenny Brack 179 4. Jeff Ward 170 5. Scott Sharp 169 6. Eddie Cheever Jr. 158 7. Robby Unser 157 Billy Boat 157 9. Buddy Lazier 153 10. Davey Hamilton 140 Sam Schmidt 140 Mark Dismore 140
.This is Greg Ray's second career Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory, his first coming at Pikes Peak in June. This ties him for most wins in 1999 with Scott Goodyear. .This is the sixth Pep Boys Indy Racing League win for Team Menard, tying with A.J. Foyt Racing for the most career Pep Boys Indy Racing League victories by one team. .This is the best finish for Buddy Lazier in 1999. His previous best finish in 1999 was fifth in June at Pikes Peak. .Both Greg Ray and Sam Schmidt extended their streak of leading at least one lap to five consecutive races. .Robby McGehee and Scott Harrington each led laps for the first time in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League careers. Stephan Gregoire led for the first time this season. Twenty-one drivers have led at least one lap this season. .Buzz Calkins extended his streak of running at the finish to nine consecutive races, a Pep Boys Indy Racing League record. Calkins and Davey Hamilton shared the record entering this event. Calkins is the only driver to be running at the finish of all seven Indy Racing events this season. .Jaques Lazier finished a career-best seventh. His previous best was 10th in June at Pikes Peak.