PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK INDIANAPOLIS, March 10, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League: Kite takes stock in Atlanta: Rising Pep Boys IRL star Jimmy Kite finished 19th in his stock-car...
PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK
INDIANAPOLIS, March 10, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League:
Kite takes stock in Atlanta: Rising Pep Boys IRL star Jimmy Kite finished 19th in his stock-car racing debut, the rain-shortened Johnson Controls/EasyCare Auto Service 300, an ARCA event March 6 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kite drove a Ford owned by Team Scandia, which also fields his Royal Purple Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear in the Pep Boys IRL. Kite qualified 16th in the 40-car field and moved to ninth after a pit stop. But he fell back after a caution period, eventually finishing one lap down to winner Kirk Shelmerdine. The race was ended after just 77 laps due to rain.
"We got enough laps out there running that I just slowly worked up to speed and started feeling comfortable," Kite said. "There at the end I was ready to go racing. "I was starting to go fast and ready to start passing cars. It was unfortunate about the rain but just par for the course with the kind of day we had."
The race gave Kite some first-hand insight on the differences between driving a 3,500-pound stock car and a 1,620-pound IRL car. That knowledge might come in handy Aug. 29, when the Pep Boys IRL makes its debut on the fast, 1.54-mile quad-oval at Atlanta. "It is totally different...those cars are so big," Kite said of stock cars. "The Indy-style cars have so much downforce and stick so close to the ground. They don't wiggle and they don't roll. "But then you get into a NASCAR, they're big and heavy and don't have the downforce. They roll a lot, they're real sluggish and slide around a lot. Other than both being race cars and turning both of them left, they're totally different."
Guerrero fast at Phoenix: Based on the results of recent testing, add Roberto Guerrero to the list of contenders for victory at the Dura-Lube 200 on March 22 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Guerrero's best time on the 1-mile oval at PIR was in the 20.8- to 20.9-second range during testing March 2-4, team spokesman Mike King said. Guerrero and the Pagan Racing team didn't participate in the "Test in the West" on Feb 25-26 at PIR.
Only four drivers - Scott Sharp, Tony Stewart, Billy Boat and Arie Luyendyk - broke into the 20-second range during the "Test in the West," conducted in performance-enhancing, 60-degree temperatures. Guerrero's best time in the team's Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear took place when the mercury hovered in the mid-70's, King said.
That strong performance helped to erase the memory of a tough season debut for Guerrero. He led the Indy 200 on Jan. 24 at Walt Disney World Speedway near Orlando when he crashed while trying to avoid a spin by a slower car.
"We had an excellent car that day, perhaps the car to beat," Guerrero said. "But that's history. Now we have to concentrate on Phoenix, and once again the Pagan team has given me a very good race car. I'm really pumped."
Weather woes: The strange weather patterns that have spread throughout the United States this winter have wreaked havoc on Goodyear and Firestone's tire tests this week.
Goodyear teams planned to test March 10-12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but snowy, cold weather postponed the session until March 13-15. Drivers testing at the Speedway with Goodyear will include Buddy Lazier, Jeff Ward, Jim Guthrie, Scott Goodyear, Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore, said Todd Carpenter, Goodyear's IRL lead engineer.
Firestone's test at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth, scheduled for March 9-11, was canceled due to temperatures in the mid-30's.
Chipping in: Pagan Racing's sponsor search recently received an unexpected boost from two loyal fans.
Carol and Ray Barrett, from Springfield, Mo., sent a note of support and a check for $50 to Pagan, which continues to search for a primary sponsor for its Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Roberto Guerrero.
"I just couldn't believe it," team owner Allan Pagan said. "I've never had anything like this happen in all of the years I've been involved in racing. To know that these folks care that much about our team leaves me speechless. If we win at Phoenix, I'll dedicate the race to them."
Next event: Dura-Lube 200, March 22, Phoenix International Raceway. Tickets are available by calling PIR at (602) 252-2227.
World Wide Web: http://www.indyracingleague.com