IRL: Indy 500 - Goodyear Tire Plans to Win Again

GOODYEAR MAKES PLANS TO WIN AGAIN AT "THE GREATEST SPECTACLE IN RACING" AKRON, Ohio, May 14 -- Whoever said winning comes easy certainly had no idea of how Goodyear prepares for a race. For Goodyear, the effort to win takes thousands of hours of...

GOODYEAR MAKES PLANS TO WIN AGAIN AT "THE GREATEST SPECTACLE IN RACING"

AKRON, Ohio, May 14 -- Whoever said winning comes easy certainly had no idea of how Goodyear prepares for a race. For Goodyear, the effort to win takes thousands of hours of planning, tire development, testing, number crunching, production and shipping before heading to the race. Goodyear just makes winning look easy. The teams and drivers respect Goodyear's ability to field a winning tire, and the winning effort has led Goodyear to victory in the first two Pep Boys Indy Racing League events this season and sees Goodyear-equipped drivers in the first six positions of the points standings. For the 1999 Indianapolis 500, the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the effort started immediately following Eddie Cheever Jr.'s triumphant win in the 1998 race. What made Cheever's victory even sweeter for Goodyear -- the company's 26th Indy 500 win in the past 31 years -- is that the next five drivers across the famous yard of bricks also were on Goodyear Eagle Racing Radials. "Winning a race, no matter where it is held, is always our goal every time Goodyear goes racing," says Stu Grant, Goodyear's general manager of worldwide racing. "Winning at Indy and capturing the top six spots, however, is and always will be an exhilarating experience no matter how many times we accomplish this significant feat." Since Cheever's win, Goodyear engineers have been hard at work preparing for the 1999 Indianapolis 500. Testing started at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September 1998 -- before the Pep Boys Indy Racing League series had concluded -- and continued in October before winter set in. Testing resumed in March and concluded with the April open tests, where 1998 polesitter Billy Boat posted the fastest speed for Goodyear at 224.456 mph, with Scott Sharp, Mark Dismore and Cheever all posting 223 mph laps. "After having a superior tire last year, it would have been natural for to Goodyear to sit back on their laurels, I guess," says Cheever. "But Goodyear being Goodyear, they have worked hard all year to come back to Indy looking for another victory. "Tires are the only part of the car that touches the ground. Everything begins and ends on that little patch of rubber. It is not just about rubber; it is also about the people behind the rubber." Indianapolis provides the Goodyear engineers with some challenges faced nowhere else on the IRL circuit. The low banking (9 degrees in the corners) requires more mechanical grip from the tire than at other speedways, including the high-banked tracks seen later this year at Texas, Atlanta and Dover. Also, a fast speed at Indianapolis is highly dependent on the weather. Variable winds and changing track temperatures throughout the day can either help or hurt a car's performance during a run. "Indianapolis is one of the most challenging circuits for which Goodyear develops tires," says Paul Lauritzen, Goodyear's operations manager for the IRL. "At every other track -- the one-mile ovals, the high-banked speedways -- Goodyear gathers information from similar tracks that aids in the development of the race tire. Indianapolis is unique in that it is the only 2.5-mile superspeedway we visit. Therefore, the testing we do at Indianapolis prior to the month of May is crucial to our Eagle tire selection process." Lauritzen adds that Goodyear puts the same effort into the tire selection process at all IRL races, and that effort allowed Goodyear-equipped drivers Cheever and Scott Goodyear to take victories in the first two IRL races at Orlando, Fla., and Phoenix, Ariz., respectively. Entering Indy, Scott Goodyear (Panther Racing) leads the championship with 93 points, followed by Pagan Racing's Jeff Ward (75 points), Cheever (63), Kelley Racing teammates Scott Sharp (61) and Mark Dismore (58) and Boat, running for A.J. Foyt Enterprises (54), all riding on Goodyear Eagle Racing Radials. Other IRL regulars racing on Goodyear include 1998 IRL champion Kenny Brack from A.J. Foyt Power Team Racing, Buddy Lazier and Johnny Unser (Hemelgarn Racing), Roberto Moreno (Truscelli Team Racing), Davey Hamilton (Barnhart Galles Motorsports) and Stan Wattles (Metro Racing Systems). Steve Knapp (ISM Racing) returns to the series after missing one race, and veteran racer Raul Boesel joins Brant Racing starting this month. Two teams make their initial forays into the IRL at Indianapolis, including one with excellent credentials: Tri Star Motorsports will field cars at Indianapolis for former IRL champion (and current NASCAR Winston Cup driver) Tony Stewart and teammate Dr. Jack Miller. Stewart also will attempt to compete in the NASCAR Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C., also on May 30. Also joining the Goodyear armada at the Speedway will be Jimmy Kite with the new Team Coulson entry. Goodyear will supply a talented foursome of drivers making their first appearance at the Brickyard, including sedan racer Mike Borkowski (PDM Racing), European karting champ and Formula 3000 driver Wim Eyckmans (Team Cheever), formula racer Jacques Lazier (DR Motorsports) and open wheel star Dave Steele (Panther Racing). "The Indianapolis 500 is widely regarded as one of the world's most renowned motorsports events," adds Grant. "The race attracts the largest single-day attendance of any sporting event and it commands a worldwide television and radio audience. Even non-racing fans will pay attention to the Indy 500 due to the history and prestige of the race. Because of that, the Indianapolis 500 is very important to Goodyear, both as a showcase for our technology and as an important tool in our sales and marketing effort."

GOODYEAR DRIVERS LOOK AT THE INDIANAPOLIS 500

SCOTT GOODYEAR (#4 Panther Racing): "Even though we are leading the points coming into Indy we are running for a win, not just points. We've got to stay focused as a team and keep doing what has brought us success thus far in the '99 season. Winning the 500 has been a dream of mine since I first ran here in 1990 and since '92 (when he lost to Al Unser Jr. in the closest 500 ever) it's become a focus. But the Indianapolis 500 is always a fun time and it has been especially fun this year watching my teammate, Dave Steele, go through as a rookie. It reminds me of my rookie year in 1990." "Goodyear has a long history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway of winning races and we hope to be adding our name to Victory Lane on behalf of Goodyear."

EDDIE CHEEVER (#51 Team Cheever): "After having a superior tire last year, it would have been natural for to Goodyear to sit back on their laurels, I guess. But Goodyear being Goodyear, they have worked hard all year to come back to Indy looking for another victory. For both Team Cheever and Goodyear, it is a relentless pursuit to not only beat everyone, but to beat everyone badly! "Tires are the only part of the car that touches the ground. Everything begins and ends on that little patch of rubber. It is not just about rubber; it is also about the people behind the rubber."

WIM EYCKMANS (#52 Team Cheever): "This is the first time I've driven with Goodyear tires. Eddie, chief mechanics Owen Snyder and Dane Harte and the Team Cheever crew have told me how strong the tire and the company is. In Europe, it is unusual for a tire manufacturer to have a relationship with team. I really appreciate this loyalty and can see the amazing results that can be achieved by having both sides working for the common good. It has been a marvelous association for me to watch and I'm looking forward to profiting from it. I hope that Goodyear will give me a 'good year.'"

SCOTT SHARP (#8 Kelley Racing): "There is an incredible rush of emotion every time I drive under the tunnel into the track at Indianapolis. When you're out on the track the walls shout of the heritage and history of the last 90 years. "I'm very proud to drive for Goodyear and have the Goodyear Eagles on my Delphi car. The Goodyear engineers have poured much sweat and creative energies into continuing to keep the Goodyear tire as the winner's choice."

MARK DISMORE (#28 Kelley Racing): "I can't really describe what racing the Indy 500 means to me. It's really hard to put into words. It's about history, longevity, redemption and fulfillment. "Goodyear has a great tire and we haven't maximized it yet. Goodyear has done a tremendous job this year at Indianapolis and in the Indy Racing League."

DAVEY HAMILTON (#25 Barnhart Galles Motorsports): "Goodyear has always strived to be competitive, especially at the Indianapolis 500. I am completely confident that they will give us a great tire for the race and qualifying. The tires are so important, and it means quite a bit to us to have a company like Goodyear behind us."

JEFF WARD (#21 Pagan Racing): "I think coming to Indy second in the points is a good boost for our new team. It shows my strengths and talents as they've developed over the past year; now we're one of the favorites to win the Indy 500. This is a real opportunity to show off our abilities for May and the season. We've been fortunate to score points in the first two races and our goal is to win the championship. Indianapolis is very important to those chances -- there's no room for mulligans if you have one bad race in the Indy Racing League. "Goodyear has been fabulous in developing a tire for Indy. We've been fortunate to test there and get in some long runs and the Indy tire is everything we're looking for. It's a good tire all around in all conditions. I have 100-percent confidence in Goodyear and their effort at Indy."

TONY STEWART (#22 Tri Star Motorsports): "I feel we have a definite advantage using Goodyear tires in the Indianapolis 500. They have already won the first two IRL races this season, a clear indicator that they have put all their energies and resources into having the best tire in Indy car racing. I know they have the tire we take to the win. They have a great tire program in NASCAR Winston Cup and it is nice to be able to transfer that quality and the good working relationship we have with everyone at Goodyear to our Indianapolis 500 program."

DR. JACK MILLER (#17 Tri Star Motorsports): "This is my first time on Goodyear tires and I am excited about the potential. Goodyear's reputation is second to none and they are already the proven leader in the 1999 season."

STAN WATTLES (#19 Metro Racing Systems): "It's an extreme thrill and an honor to be going back to Indy for the second time. The Indy 500 truly is the pinnacle of all racing. It's beyond my wildest dreams to be racing in the Indy 500 and I'm excited to be headed back. "The tire that Goodyear had at Indy last year was excellent and I hear that this year's is even better. I haven't run on it yet, but the drivers that have said it's really fast. I think it's going to be a winner!"

STEVE KNAPP (#35 ISM Racing): "Racing at Indy has been a dream of mine since I was four years old. To have achieved my dream of racing at Indy last year, I have now stepped up my goal to winning the Indy 500. I feel that I have the speed and the patience that it takes to get the job done. There is no greater feeling that I have experienced than what I get from driving around this historic track flat out. Indy is history and tradition and I would like to make my mark a little more than I did in my rookie year last season...and then do it again, and again, and again, and.... "Goodyear has really stepped up to the plate and I feel that their work on this year's 500 tire will pay for itself at the end of the race. I was lucky enough to be invited to do a tire test with Goodyear at Orlando earlier this year. The greatest thing about it is that above all the testing and excitement, the people that work for Goodyear are some of the nicest people I have ever met, and I look forward to a long relationship with them."

JOHNNY UNSER (#92 Hemelgarn Racing): "The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world and it is where every driver in the world wants to compete and win. It has always meant everything to myself and to the whole Unser family...to make it the 10th win for the Unser family at Indy would be a dream come true and I am doing everything I can to make it happen. I know that Goodyear Tire has the same commitment to winning Indy as the Unser family and I am proud to have Goodyear tires on my car as we go for that 10th win!"

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Jaques Lazier  , Raul Boesel , Roberto Moreno , Kenny Brack , Steve Knapp , Dave Steele , Mike Borkowski , Stan Wattles , Paul Lau , Wim Eyckmans , A.J. Foyt , Jack Miller
Teams Panther Racing