OLDSMOBILE WRAPS UP PERFECT SEASON WITH LAS VEGAS 500K VICTORY IRL Aurora V8 Scores 19th Consecutive Win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Las Vegas; October 11, 1998 - Oldsmobile ran the table for the second straight year in the season finale of...
OLDSMOBILE WRAPS UP PERFECT SEASON WITH LAS VEGAS 500K VICTORY
IRL Aurora V8 Scores 19th Consecutive Win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas; October 11, 1998 - Oldsmobile ran the table for the second straight year in the season finale of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Oldsmobile's production-based IRL Aurora V8 finished its second undefeated season in IRL competition with a perfect record of 11 wins, 11 poles, and 11 fastest laps in the 11-race series. Oldsmobile engines swept the series titles, winning the Engine Manufacturer, Driver, Team, and Rookie Championships.
Arie Luyendyk scored his fourth career IRL victory and Oldsmobile's 19th consecutive series win with a .926-second margin over runner-up Sam Schmidt. Luyendyk led a total of 88 laps with Treadway Racing's Sprint PCS/Radio Shack Oldsmobile G-Force, taking the lead for good on Lap 169 when he passed Lone Star 500 winner John Paul, Jr. Buddy Lazier was third across the stripe in Hemelgarn Racing's Delta Faucet Oldsmobile Dallara. Oldsmobile engines powered the top 19 finishers; the highest placing Nissan driver was 20th, 85 laps behind the winner.
Luyendyk's season-ending victory was the antidote to a tough season. "When you have a day like today, it makes up for all of the other misery," said the two-time Indy 500 winner.
Luyendyk and Schmidt gave Oldsmobile engine builder Comptech Machine of Eldorado Hills, Calif., a 1-2 sweep in Las Vegas. "The Comptech engine ran smooth all day, had good throttle response, and got good fuel mileage," Luyendyk noted. The 45-year-old "Flying Dutchman" logged the fastest lap of the race at 206.367 mph.
Kenny Brack parlayed a tenth place finish in A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile Dallara into a $1 million jackpot when he captured the Drivers Championship by a 40-point margin over Davey Hamilton. Defending champion Tony Stewart was third in the points race.
Brack was slowed by an electrical problem early in the race, but persevered to capture his first IRL title. "We had a plan to stay in contention until the end, but it just didn't turn out that way," said the 32-year-old Swede. "We were in a good position before the race, so it was not a big problem.
"All in all we had a good season," observed Brack, who won a series-record three consecutive races. "I've won many races, many championships, but this is the biggest achievement for me so far."
Schmidt wheeled his Best Western Gold Crown Special to the runner-up spot with a borrowed IRL Aurora V8 engine. "I really have to thank Tom Kelley," said Schmidt after scoring his best career finish in the IRL series. "Mickey Nickos at NAC Engines has been building our engines all year, and he's done a fantastic job. We literally had an engine get lost in shipping this week. It was still missing in action on Saturday, so Tom Kelley gave me a motor to use."
Robby Unser captured the Rookie of the Year title in Team Cheever's Children's Beverage Group Olds-Dallara. "Team Cheever has given me the best car I've had an opportunity to drive in my career," said the son of three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser. "I just close my eyes and turn left."
Breck's teammate Billy Boat sailed to a record fourth straight pole (and a league-leading sixth of the season) on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval in Foyt's Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. Boat set the LVMS track qualifying record for new-formula IRL cars at 214.567 mph, eclipsing the qualifying mark he set last October by more than seven miles per hour.
"Katech is constantly doing development on our Oldsmobile motors, and it seems like they find two or three horsepower every time we come to a race," Boat noted. "Over the course of the year, those little gains add up."
Twenty-six of the 28 starters (93% of the field) for the final round of the 11-race IRL series used Oldsmobile engines. Seven Oldsmobile drivers combined to lead all 208 laps today; Olds racers led a total of 2,266 out of 2,288 laps this season. Fourteen cars were running at the finish - all of them powered by IRL Aurora V8 engines.
Oldsmobile will begin its quest for a third IRL championship when the 1999 season kicks off on January 24 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla.
LAS VEGAS 500K RESULTS
Top Five Finishers: Driver Entrant Engine Laps 1. Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing Oldsmobile 208 2. Sam Schmidt LP Racing Oldsmobile 208 3. Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Oldsmobile 208 4. John Paul Jr. Cunningham/Byrd Oldsmobile 208 5. Eddie Cheever Team Cheever Oldsmobile 207
Pole: Billy Boat/Oldsmobile, 214.567 mph Fastest Lap: Arie Luyendyk/Oldsmobile, 206.367 mph