IRL: Las Vegas Friday Practice Report

STEWART SET FOR DASH AT TITLE AFTER LEADING VEGAS PRACTICE LAS VEGAS, Oct. 9, 1998 - Tony Stewart sent a message to his fellow Pep Boys Indy Racing League competitors Friday during practice for the Las Vegas 500K: Don't count me out for...

STEWART SET FOR DASH AT TITLE AFTER LEADING VEGAS PRACTICE

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 9, 1998 - Tony Stewart sent a message to his fellow Pep Boys Indy Racing League competitors Friday during practice for the Las Vegas 500K: Don't count me out for the season title yet. Stewart led the opening practice with a lap of 213.338 mph in the Glidden-Menards-Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone during the afternoon session at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That was nearly 1.5 mph faster than Greg Ray, second best at 211.856 in the TKM-Genoa Racing-Best Access Systems Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Ray's time was recorded during the morning session.

The Las Vegas 500K, a 312-mile race, starts at 1 p.m. (PDT) Sunday. Qualifying for the PPG Pole starts at noon Saturday. Other drivers in the top five were Davey Hamilton at 211.566, Buzz Calkins at 211.086 and Billy Boat with a 211.003. Hamilton is second in the Pep Boys IRL standings, 31 points behind leader Kenny Brack. Brack, driving the A.J. Foyt-owned Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, was seventh fastest at 210.035.

"We've got some push in the car, but we're working on it," said Brack. "We made progress in (the afternoon session), and I'm confident it will be better tomorrow."

Stewart is third in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League points standings, 41 points behind Brack with 271. The Las Vegas 500K will be Stewart's last Pep Boys Indy Racing League event as a full-time series driver due to his move to NASCAR Winston Cup next year. He plans to race in the 1999 Indianapolis 500.

"(My strategy) is pretty simple," said Stewart. "Try to win (the PPG Pole), lead every lap and win the race. I'd rather be in Kenny's position and worry about protecting a lead. The way I have to run this race is definitely the way I want to run my last IRL race, and that's wide open all the way."

Hamilton's best lap came in the morning practice in the Reebok-Nienhouse Motorsports Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. He slowed in the afternoon session. "We've got a vibration problem," Hamilton said. "I thought it was a tire. We ran three sets of tires since then, so obviously it wasn't that. But we'll be OK tomorrow." Like Stewart, Hamilton needs to run nearly perfect in qualifying and the race to win the championship. Brack will win the title if he finishes eighth or better, regardless of Hamilton and Stewart's finishes.

LAS VEGAS 500K NOTEBOOK

Broadcast schedule: The Las Vegas 500K will be televised live on TNN at 4 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 11. A same-day delayed telecast of PPG Pole qualifying will be shown on SpeedVision at 9 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 10.

The IMS Radio Network will broadcast the race live at 4 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 11, with a pre-race show starting at 3:30 p.m.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Davey Hamilton , Kenny Brack , A.J. Foyt