IRL: Las Vegas Weekend Notes

Davey Hamilton's Reebok-Nienhouse team won the Pit Stop Competition at the corner of 4th and Fremont Sts. along the Fremont St. strip on Thursday night. Hamilton nipped the Team Cheever entry by six one-hundredths of a second to take home the...

Davey Hamilton's Reebok-Nienhouse team won the Pit Stop Competition at the corner of 4th and Fremont Sts. along the Fremont St. strip on Thursday night. Hamilton nipped the Team Cheever entry by six one-hundredths of a second to take home the $8,000 first price. Team Cheever earned an extra $5,000 for their efforts while Panther Racing, Team Menard, Hemelgarn Racing and ISM Racing all earned $3,000 each. Steve Knapp filled in as driver of ISM's entry while Jeff Ward was busy testing a Winston Cup car for ISM at Phoenix.

*****

Team Truscelli announced its plans for the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season. Greg Gorden is expected to compete in all eleven races for the Golden, CO. based team. The team will use a G Force chassis with a engine and tire package to be announced soon.

Gorden has been racing in the American Indycar Series where he's raced against current IRL drivers, Buddy Lazier and Robby Unser. Gorden was also a test driver for Sadler Racing's Winston Cup team.

*****

Coors Brewing Company announced its sponsorship plans for 1999 as Coors Light will become the league's first-ever Official Beer of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. Coors Light will also become the Official Beer of the Indianapolis 500 and the title sponsor of USAC's Silver Crown Series.

The Silver Crown Series will be known as the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series.

Coors will also continue their sponsorship of Buddy Lazier's Hemelgarn Racing entry in 1999.

*****

Carroll Shelby held the Grand Opening of Shelby American Inc.'s new world headquarters at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Industrial Park on Saturday morning. Fans attending the IRL race had a chance to tour Shelby's new 100,000-square foot factory and museum/showroom after Saturday morning's first IRL practice with plenty of time to spare before returning the speedway for IRL qualifying.

The event was highlighted by the first factory-sponsored all Shelby car show. After the festivities concluded at the factory, Carroll Shelby, driving the new Shelby Series 1 sports car, led a parade of Shelby cars around the 1.5 mile superspeedway before heading down Las Vegas Blvd. to Fremont Street for the start of the 32nd World Championship Chili Cookoff.

*****

Team Pelfrey and driver Brian Tyler announced a new sponsor at LVMS on Thursday. The car was painted yellow with a blue wave curling up on the engine cover to advertise Baytan, a line of sunless tanning products.

Baytan was a guest of Team Pelfrey at the last Pep Boys IRL race at Texas Motor Speedway just three weeks ago. Baytan's President, John Nicoletti approved a last minute deal to become an associate sponsor of Team Pelfrey's car while it sat on the grid at Texas. In the three weeks since Texas, Baytan has become the primary sponsor on Tyler's car. Both parties intend to develop joint marketing plans for next season.

Baytan's first venture into motorsports sponsorship came as an associate sponsorship role with Alan Kulwicki's Hooters Winston Cup team.

Baytan's driver, Brian Tyler flew to Sacramento for Saturday night's USAC Silver Crown race where he finished seventh, keeping his points lead.

Tyler finished sixth in Sunday's Las Vegas 500k, the highest finishing rookie.

*****

Tony Elliott won the USAC Western States Sprint car feature with a daring pass of Bud Kaeding on the last turn of the last lap on Friday night. The race was held on half-mile clay oval at LVMS.

*****

Mike Miller won the 50 lap Star Formula Mazda race on the 1.5 mile superspeedway on Saturday. Miller passed Rolando Quintanilla and Jim Hall 20 feet from the start-finish line to take his fourth win of the season.

*****

Sam Schmidt was able to borrow a Comptech Aurora engine from Kelley Racing when he found that his race engine was lost during shipment from NAC Engine in Chicago. With Schmidt's engine stuck in Toledo, Ohio, Schmidt's crew worked quickly to get the borrowed engine in the car in time for Saturday's final practice session.

Schmidt finished second in Sunday's race, his best ever finish in IRL competition. His previous best was seventh at the Dura Lube 200 in March 1998 at Phoenix Int'l Raceway.

*****

Robby Unser took home $50,000 for winning the 1998 Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award. Unser, who finished fifth in the Indianapolis 500 in May, had an engine failure in Sunday's race dropping him to 16th at the finish. Brian Tyler finished second in the rookie standings with 140 points.

*****

When rookie Donnie Beechler led lap 47 at LVMS, he became the 21st driver to lead a lap in IRL competition this season.

*****

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Donnie Beechler , Rolando Quintanilla , Sam Schmidt , Steve Knapp , Brian Tyler , Bud Kaeding , Tony Elliott , Mike Miller , Robby Unser , Alan Kulwicki
Teams Panther Racing