IRL: Goodyear facing crossroad at Kentucky

SPARTA, Ky., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2000 - The inaugural The Belterra Resort Indy 300 on Aug. 27 at the new Kentucky Speedway will be a critical race in the career of veteran driver Scott Goodyear, in two ways. First, he feels he has...

SPARTA, Ky., Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2000 - The inaugural The Belterra Resort Indy 300 on Aug. 27 at the new Kentucky Speedway will be a critical race in the career of veteran driver Scott Goodyear, in two ways. First, he feels he has to win to have a shot at capturing the Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship and the $1 million payoff that goes with the Northern Light Cup. Second, the outcome will play a vital role in what his future in auto racing will be after this season. Goodyear, who will be 41 before the 2001 season arrives, is in the heat of the championship chase with two races remaining on the schedule. He ranks third in the standings with 175 points, 33 behind leader Buddy Lazier and 10 behind runner-up Eddie Cheever Jr. A driver can receive a maximum of 55 points at an event, so it's possible that Goodyear could take over the top spot in the standing with a victory in his Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. "I think so," Goodyear said when asked if he must win at Kentucky. "I think it's something I feel, something that we feel as a team. "At this point last year, we had won a couple of races. Although we led the championship early on for quite some time, with some mechanical things and some crashes unfortunately we went from first all the way back to ninth at the end of the season. A whole lot of luck just wasn't with us last year. "So I'd like to say I'd like to win a couple of races yet this year. I think right now we've got a great package, the guys have done a great job preparing for Kentucky, we're all fired up about going there and competing. It's going to be an exciting event, and to come away from there with a win, I think that's what we have to do to have a shot at the championship." Goodyear started the season in good fashion with a fourth place and a second place at Orlando and Phoenix, respectively. He followed with a 12th at Las Vegas, chugged home ninth in the Indianapolis 500 and a fifth at Texas. But the last two race results, at Pikes Peak and Atlanta, were out of the top 10, 16th and 11th, respectively. The odds are in Goodyear's favor at Kentucky in this season of a new winner at each race. Among the top six drivers in the standings only Goodyear and Eliseo Salazar (tied for fourth with 173 points) have not won. While Goodyear concentrates on winning at Kentucky, he also is trying to sort out what direction to take next year. Panther Racing and Goodyear announced in June that they would part company after the season finale Oct. 15 at Texas Motor Speedway. "I've had some calls and some opportunities out there," he said. "But we've made the decision to get through at least the Kentucky event and then take the big break that we have between Kentucky and Texas to think (about what to do). "I'm not sure I'm clear in my mind what I want to do. So I didn't think it was actually fair and honest to the teams to actually talk to them and go down the road. I've explained to people who have called that I really need to decide what I want to do the following year before we really got down the road in the conversations, if we're going to do that." Goodyear said if he was asked that same question several months ago, he would said he wouldn't return to driving. But the time off since the Midas 500 Classic on July 15 at Atlanta and a recent testing session at Kentucky have stirred up "rumblings in my head" about whether he's totally ready to step out of a race car for good. "I think sports-car racing is something I'll go back and continue doing some more of," he said, "because I've spent some time with the Porsche, Audi and Jaguar factories in my career, which was a lot of fun, quite enjoyable." He said he is going to participate in the Beetle Cup, a V6 racing class in Europe that is coming to the U.S. and Road Atlanta next year. He tested at the Georgia road course recently and participated in a publicity day. He said it was the first time he had turned right in a race car since 1997, and it whet his appetite to resume road racing. "I would do things like (24 Hours of) Daytona and renew relationships I had mentioned and go to Le Mans," he said. "I'm excited about those possibilities. TV is something I've done a little bit of and interests me a lot. I don't know if the timing is right for that next year or the year after." The Indianapolis 500 is the one open-wheel race in which he wants to continue to participate. "Very much so," he said. "The Indy 500 is the ultimate of motor racing. I think you could get that answer from a lot of people. Without a doubt, that would be something that probably would dovetail into doing things like Daytona, Le Mans and some other endurance races. "I've always enjoyed the endurance racing and done quite well with it. Maybe that would be the thing I would look at doing, just trying to get back involved in that. And then doing the Indy 500, because it is the reason most of us go motor racing." Goodyear and his wife, Leslie, are parents of three young children, two boys and a girl, and he sees the need to slow down and spend more time with his family. The travel not only to races but on the promotion side take him away from home for extended periods during the year. Still, he says he enjoys motor racing. This was brought strongly to mind when he participated in testing at Kentucky Speedway. "There was a lot of excitement just to drive under the tunnel and see the racetrack," he said. "I couldn't wait to get in the car and attack it. I was quite pleased to feel those feelings and emotions." Those emotions could produce a victory at Kentucky and a clear career path for Goodyear.

THE BELTERRA RESORT INDY 300 NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The Belterra Resort Indy 300 starts at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 27. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 12:15 p.m. Aug. 26. Practice sessions start at 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Aug. 25, 9:30 a.m. Aug. 26 and 10 a.m. Aug. 27.

*** On the air: The Belterra Resort Indy 300 will be televised live on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 27. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised at 11 a.m. (EDT) Aug. 27 on ESPN2. ESPN2 will televise MBNA Pole qualifying at 5 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 26. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 2 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 27, followed by the live race broadcast at 2:30 p.m. IRRN will broadcast qualifying live at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 26. The area IRRN affiliate is WIKT-FM 95.3, Carrollton, Ky. The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracing.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/broadcast.com. Live streaming video of all practice sessions will be available at www.LiveOnTheNet.com.

*** Tickets: Tickets for The Belterra Resort Indy 300 are available by calling Kentucky Speedway at (888) 652-RACE or through Tickets.com at www.tickets.com. Ticket information and a seating chart is available at www.kentuckyspeedway.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Scott Goodyear
Teams Panther Racing