IRL: Goodyear keeps one eye on the prize, the other the future

FORT WORTH, Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2000 -- Scott Goodyear knows what he must do to win the Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship in the season-ending Excite 500 on Oct. 15 at Texas Motor Speedway. He also knows he wants...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2000 -- Scott Goodyear knows what he must do to win the Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship in the season-ending Excite 500 on Oct. 15 at Texas Motor Speedway. He also knows he wants to run sports car endurance races at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans next year. What he doesn't know is whether he'll race full-time in the Northern Light Series in 2001 or just try one more time to win the Indianapolis 500. Goodyear, the veteran Indy racer born in Toronto, said he'll sort his future options within the next three or four weeks. What comes first for him is giving his all at Texas in hopes of upstaging Buddy Lazier's run for the Northern Light Cup. Lazier leads the standings with 258 points. Second-place Goodyear trails by 38 points, with 220. 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Lazier only has to finish 13th or better to wrap up the championship, his first. Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr., who is third at 217, are the only drivers with a mathematical shot of catching Lazier. "Pretty simple," Goodyear said about the only goal he can have for the race. He said he must shoot for the big casino of winning the pole, leading the most laps and winning the race to get the maximum 55 points. That would move his season total to 275. Then he must hope Lazier experiences difficulties. Thirteenth place would pay 17 points to Lazier. Assuming he gains none of the bonus points, Lazier also would wind up with 275, but he would get the $1 million bonus from Northern Light because he had won twice to Goodyear's once. So, who do you think is in the most nervous position? "Buddy's got to be in the pressure cooker," Goodyear said. Goodyear pointed out that he and Cheever know they must drive to their utmost limits, while Lazier and Hemelgarn Racing must decide whether Lazier should drive to finish or drive to win. "I've been in that position before where I had the lead," Goodyear said. "It was a lot harder on me. In 1986, I won the Formula Atlantic championship at Atlanta. I drove my heart out and won the pole and the race." Goodyear is in a strange situation. He is trying to win the championship with Pennzoil Panther Racing, which is ending its relationship with him after this race. Goodyear won the pole and finished second at The Belterra Resort Indy 300 in August at Kentucky Speedway, but he did not participate in the Panther team's test session at Texas after the strong showing at Kentucky. "I'm somewhat disappointed," Goodyear said. "I was informed a few days before (the test). They thought if I was going to run a full season (with another team) next year, I would take some things with me. "No one died in this situation, it's just that someone different will be driving the car. We're going there (to Texas) as friends, and there's no use in going around with our heads down." Goodyear said he still has a good rapport with the crew, stating they are like family or brothers. "We'll have the same mindset as at Kentucky," he said. At the same time, Goodyear, who'll turn 41 on Dec. 20, is happy to try another direction. He said he will be re-energized and able to do other things such as road racing, which he enjoys. Last weekend, he drove in the Beetle Cup series race at Road Atlanta, had fun and made some top road-racing contacts for next season. But Goodyear does not want to give up one final opportunity to win at Indianapolis. He placed second in the Indianapolis 500 twice by a total of .613 of a second, lost another to a penalty although he crossed the finish line first and was only a few seconds behind in another although in seventh place. "A couple of teams that have approached me, even back in June when this was announced," Goodyear said. "That was their thought process, too: 'The whole season or just definitely Indy, because you're the guy at Indy who probably deserves to win this thing, but we know that you can win it given all the right circumstances.' "That plays in my mind when I think about this. It's difficult even standing down at the grand prix (Formula One SAP United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 24). You're standing up in the suites watching the grand prix cars go around, and it's difficult (not to be a participant). "If it was a situation where I had never been competitive at Indy and just been lucky and finished in the top 10, something like that, maybe it wouldn' t have the draw. When I arrived there for the first time in 1990, it seemed like I just settled in there. I just always liked the place." Goodyear said he is not ruling out returning for next year's 13-race Indy Racing Northern Light Series season that will be conducted between March and September. "I feel pretty comfortable right now that I think I would enjoy being full time back with the Indy cars," he said. "A couple new tracks out there now and from a different environment, that would be exactly what Scott Goodyear needs." The Texas race will be Goodyear's 30th race with Pennzoil Panther Racing, starting with the 200-miler at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 24, 1998. He moved over from Treadway Racing. Goodyear has won two races in the bright yellow racing machine, finished in the top five 11 times, led 574 laps and completed 5,050 laps. He finished seventh and ninth in the standings the previous two seasons. Last year he led the standings through Dover in August before fading down the stretch. "I think (winning the championship) would be great for me and the team," he said.

EXCITE 500 NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The Excite 500 starts at 1 p.m. (CDT) Oct. 15. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at noon Oct. 14. Practice sessions start at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Oct. 13, and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Oct. 14.

*** On the air: The Excite 500 will be televised on a same-day delayed basis on ABC at 4 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 15. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 15 on ESPN2. ESPN2 will televise MBNA Pole qualifying at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 14. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 15, followed by the live race broadcast at 2 p.m. IRRN will broadcast a qualifying summary show at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 14. The area IRRN affiliate is WBAP-AM 820, Arlington, Texas. 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 Excite 500 are available by calling Texas Motor Speedway at (817) 215-8500, through Ticketmaster outlets or at Ticketmaster Online at www.ticketmaster.com . Ticket information is available at www.texasmotorspeedway.com .

-INLRL-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Scott Goodyear
Teams Panther Racing