By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Sparta, KY (August 26, 2000) - Scott Goodyear captured the pole position for Sunday's Belterra Resort Casino Indy 300 after driving his Pennzoil Panther Racing Oldsmobile-powered Dallara around the Kentucky...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Sparta, KY (August 26, 2000) - Scott Goodyear captured the pole position for Sunday's Belterra Resort Casino Indy 300 after driving his Pennzoil Panther Racing Oldsmobile-powered Dallara around the Kentucky Speedway .014 seconds faster than Eliseo Salazaar. His first career pole position comes after making 37 starts in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, where he has scored two wins.
"It hasn't been since CART days that I've had a pole and that was a long time ago. I've been in the Indy Racing League since 1997."
Coming into this race third in the championship standings, Goodyear and the Panther Racing team changed their weekend strategy in an effort to capture the three points awarded to the pole sitter.
"We did something different, that we haven't done for years. We really came here thinking about qualifying, usually we just qualify our race car. We came here focused on a qualifying car. We've been using one car for qualifying and one car for race setup.
Goodyear starts Sunday's race 30 points behind series leader Buddy Lazier. The winner of Sunday's race will be awarded 50 points, with the driver leading the most laps receiving two bonus points.
"We need points right now to have a shot at the championship," said Goodyear. "I suspect when we go to Texas, we'll probably do the same thing again, go there with two cars and try to get some points out of qualifying there too."
The Pennzoil Panther team has done extensive testing at the new 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, providing a half day of testing for Goodyear, and auditioning drivers for next season.
"We now can see that all of the work we did the past two months at Kentucky has paid off," said Pennzoil Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes. "Panther Racing has tested over 1,000 miles here at Kentucky Speedway."
In an announcement made in June, it was learned that Goodyear would not return to Panther Racing in 2001, prompting the team to test Sam Hornish, Alex Barron and veteran driver Billy Boat.
"Testing different drivers has been fascinating and all of the feedback we received from them has always proved very beneficial," said Barnes. "We tried out every combination we could and found the winning qualifying setup and tomorrow I believe we'll have a winning race setup."
When asked how he felt about Hornish, Barron and Boat driving his race car, Goodyear said, "It's been great for me because I didn't have to come here and do all the initial testing at Kentucky. Those guys were able to do a lot."
"When two of the guys came here, when the team originally came here, they had a Las Vegas setup on the car. They found out it didn't work and ended up going towards more of Texas setup. They went through all those days of searching out all that information that I was fortunate I didn't have to come and do."
"I didn't run here until probably ten days ago. It was my very first time here, on the track. I came down on a Monday, got in the car on Tuesday, got in the car at ten o'clock and was finished by a quarter to two, and home by eight. So I didn't spend a whole lot of time in the car."
"So far we haven't had to do a whole lot of work here, which is good in one sense because we didn't have to pound out a lot of miles to find out which direction to go."
Since announcing his decision not to return to Panther Racing next season, Goodyear has been considering his options for next season. "Having some time off, especially when we have this long break, has been a bit of a recharge. It was neat to come here and test. I was anxious to go and see the track and what it had to offer. I was anxious to get in the car and attack the track itself and that has followed through to this weekend."
"When I made my decision months ago, I made a pact with myself that I wouldn't make any kind of a decision (regarding 2001) until between Kentucky and Texas. I'll wait to see how I do here, how I enjoy it, and go from there."
A championship season may be the incentive needed to lure Goodyear back to Indy Racing for 2001. Or it might culminate a superb career in open wheel racing.
Goodyear still has a strong desire to win. That desire, coupled with unfinished business at Indy and opportunities in endurance racing, means Goodyear will surely be piloting a race car in 2001.