Las Vegas, Nev. (September 26, 1999) Sam Schmidt won the Vegas.com 500 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway after passing 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack with three laps remaining. Schmidt, who lives in Las Vegas, led the race four times for a...
Las Vegas, Nev. (September 26, 1999) Sam Schmidt won the Vegas.com 500 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway after passing 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack with three laps remaining. Schmidt, who lives in Las Vegas, led the race four times for a total of 35 laps. It was Schmidt's first career victory in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League series.
"I knew we had the car to beat all weekend," said Schmidt. "I really had to take a big risk to pass Kenny (Brack), but we didn't come here to finish second. I stopped breathing the last three laps, I swear."
Schmidt jumps to third in the series championship standings, just 30 points behind leader Greg Ray.
Moving into second in points with his second place finish today was Kenny Brack. Brack was the lap leader today, having led three times for 118 of the 208 laps. "We had a good car all day," said Brack, "but we picked up a vibration at the end and we did all that we could do. We did a good job to get back in the points chase today and we're going to Dallas to try to wrap it up."
With one race remaining Brack trails Greg Ray by only 13 points in the championship battle.
Robbie Buhl made the most of his first race since the Indy 500 in May by taking the Tristar Motorsports car, owned by Larry Curry and Tony Stewart, to a third place finish today. "I got together with Larry Curry who wanted someone to put his car on the podium. I can't believe I did it!"
Buhl and the team struggled throughout practice and qualifying, with Buhl qualifying in 21st position. "On Friday, we were lost," said Buhl, "but the guys did a great job working with the car and the tires. It showed today. Our car ran the best it has all weekend."
Scott Sharp jumped from seventh to fourth in the championship standings after finishing fourth today. "We didn't do too bad today," said Sharp. "I'm quite pleased with a fourth place finish. The car ended the race being really consistent. We had to make a few adjustments throughout the race, but we were able to get the car to do what we wanted."
Series points leader Greg Ray, who was hoping to leave Las Vegas with the championship title, instead leaves with a broken race car. Ray tangled with Mark Dismore on lap 110 ultimately knocking Ray's car from competition.
"It is really disappointing," said Ray. "We had a good car. I was just taking it easy since this is a 500K race. We were running the same pace as the leaders. Unfortunately, Mark Dismore had a hard time with Turn four. I had a run on him, but he blocked me low. I went on the high side and showed him my nose. I have no idea why he came into me. I was clearly on the high side. He just moved up and bumped me."
"We came in and changed the front end, but for some reason the impact broke the timing chain. It's hard that something like that will affect our championship run. We're going to have to go to Texas with our guns blazing."
Robby McGehee, winner of the Bank One Rookie of the Year at the 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500 in May, edged ahead of Scott Harrington in the season long battle for Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year by finishing sixth today. McGehee leads Harrington by one point going into the season finale at Texas on October 17.
"We're got to be happy finishing sixth, considering we started 19th," McGehee said. "We knew all along that we had a great race car. We also knew all along that it was going to be an attrition race. So the key was keeping the car together and staying out of trouble. It's great to head to the last race of the season with the Rookie points lead."
Six drivers still have a shot at the championship as the series heads to the Texas Motor Speedway for the final showdown. Greg Ray, of Dallas, Tex., is hoping the hometown advantage will work in three weeks just as it did today for Sam Schmidt.