IRL: Many races to be decided at Texas

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 7, 1999 - The winner of the Pep Boys Million as season champion won't be the only race decided in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. Winners of many season-long ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 7, 1999 - The winner of the Pep Boys Million as season champion won't be the only race decided in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. Winners of many season-long performance and bonus programs will be decided at the season-ending event, too. Robby McGehee and Scott Harrington are the leading contenders for a $50,000 bonus as Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year. McGehee leads the rookie standings with 138 points in the Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Harrington is second with 137 points in The CertainTeed Building Products Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Jaques Lazier is third at 118 in the Warner Bros. Studio Stores-Truscelli Team Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, and John Hollansworth Jr. is fourth at 116 in the CompuCom-Lycos-TeamXtreme Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Robbie Buhl and Eddie Cheever Jr. are the leading contenders to claim a $50,000 bonus presented to the driver who wins the MCI WorldCom Long Distance Award the most during the season. Buhl and Cheever each have won the award at two races this season. The award is presented at each Indy Racing event to the driver who gains the most positions from start to finish. If Buhl and Cheever remain tied, Buhl would win the award because he gained the most combined positions - 44 - during the two races in which he won the award. Cheever gained 21 spots in the two races in which he won the award. Points leader Greg Ray has the inside line on a $30,000 bonus from MBNA America for leading the most laps this season. Ray has led 408 laps in 1999. Scott Goodyear is second at 265. The Mall.com 500 is a 208-lap event, giving Ray a nice cushion over potential pursuers in this program. Ray also is the leading contender for a $10,000 bonus for the PPG Pole Master Award, presented to the driver who wins the most PPG Poles in 1999. He has won three PPG Poles this year. Mark Dismore is second with two poles. If Dismore wins the PPG Pole at Texas, Ray will still claim the season award due by winning the tiebreaker. Ray has started second three times this season, while Dismore has started second only twice. The chief mechanic of the season champion will receive a $25,000 bonus from Pennzoil as the Pennzoil Performax Chief Mechanic of the Year. John O'Gara, chief mechanic for Ray, and Bill Spencer, chief mechanic for second-place Kenny Brack, are the leading contenders. Goodyear on the mend: Pep Boys Indy Racing League standout Scott Goodyear was fitted with a walking cast after breaking a small bone in his left foot and lower left shin during a crash in the Vegas.com 500 on Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The injury will not prevent Goodyear from competing in the season-ending Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. Goodyear is fifth in points with 207 in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. He won the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom on June 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. More practice for Willy T.: Willy T. Ribbs will not compete in the season-ending Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway, instead concentrating on testing to gain more seat time. Two-time Indianapolis 500 veteran Ribbs completed 18 laps of the Vegas.com 500 on Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his first Pep Boys Indy Racing League event. He was eliminated from the race in an accident in the Cole Bros. Water-Team Losi-Fast Rod G Force/Aurora/Firestone fielded by McCormack Motorsports. Ribbs will be entered in the season-opening Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway next January, team co-owner Dennis McCormack said. "After reviewing Willy's race at Vegas, we feel the best interest for the team and Willy is to gear up and concentrate on testing to prepare for the year 2000," McCormack said. "For the season opener, he will have significant test miles where we can perform at the level we expect to be at to compete." McCormack has not named a driver for its entry in the Mall.com 500. PDM battles back: Paul Diatlovich and Chuck Buckman keep battling back. They are determined to make PDM Racing a regular participant in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. After some financial setbacks that put them on the sidelines for the most of the summer, they returned for the most recent Las Vegas race and will be taking part in the Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway with Swedish rookie Niclas Jonsson. However, Jonsson is driving for Blueprint Racing Enterprises of Chicago. "We contracted to supply Blueprint the cars and equipment, and they provided the engineer," Diatlovich said. It's only a two-race arrangement, but it's a means to maintain PDM's existence. "We hope to get something going to save PDM," Diatlovich said. "We're still alive and kicking ... and looking (for sponsors)." PDM opened the season with Steve Knapp, 1998 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year, driving to a seventh-place finish at Walt Disney World Speedway. It's been a struggle for the team ever since. The opportunity with Blueprint enabled PDM and Diatlovich to return to the mainstream of the series. They tested with Jonsson twice before bringing him to Las Vegas last month for his initial Indy Racing start. Jonsson is the second Swede - Kenny Brack, defending league champion and winner of this year's Indianapolis 500, is the other -- to drive in the series. Jonsson calls England home but has been living in Southern California. "He sat in the seat, put his arms out and away he went," Diatlovich said of Jonsson's debut. "He's as good a kid as some I've had in the past." Jonsson's first race lasted only 85 laps before the engine faltered in his Blueprint Racing/ZMax/Firestone G Force/Aurora/Firestone faltered. After qualifying 24th, he finished 25th. Diatlovich is busy building a new car carrying new colors for Texas. Busy at Indy: As the new Formula One garages and the suites above them began to take shape at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, several top Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams also were looking toward 2000. With a new 3.5-liter engine to replace the current 4-liter powerplant next season, pleasant fall weather allowed Billy Boat, one of the two A.J. Foyt drivers, 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever and Tri Star Motorsports driver Robbie Buhl to put in some testing laps for Goodyear on Oct. 6. Boat drives a car powered by the Oldsmobile Aurora engine, while, at present, Cheever is the only driver using the Infiniti. Buddy Lazier, 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion, was scheduled to take to the Speedway asphalt Oct. 7 for Hemelgarn Racing. Meanwhile, construction work on the new facilities for the first F1 United States Grand Prix next Sept. 24 continued at a frenzied pace. In the two months since running of the Brickyard 400, the South Terrace area just to the east of the pits has taken on dramatic new look. The first of the 36 garages and 12 suites began rising on the very south end of the Tower Terrace area, and those now have the full definition of how they will appear when completed. The remainder of the long row of car housings also is taking shape. Other structures, too, are beginning to provide a spectacular new image along the main stretch of world's most famous racetrack. Sam's cleanup Crew: Pep Boys Million contender Sam Schmidt recently accepted a challenge from a member of the IRL Crew - the official fan-support organization of the league - that he would shave off his Elvis-style sideburns before the Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway if $3,000 was raised for Speedway Children's' Charities. Patrick Stephan, an IRL Crew member, recently sent an e-mail to Schmidt asking him what it would take for Schmidt to shave his sideburns. "The Clean Up Sam Campaign" is accepting checks payable to Speedway Children's' Charities at: IRL Crew 5915 Prenda de Oro NW Albuquerque, NM 87120 Updates on the campaign will be available on the Web at http://www.irlcrew.com . Calkins on the move: Colorado driver Buzz Calkins won the first Pep Boys Indy Racing League race ever held, Jan. 27, 1996 at Walt Disney World Speedway. He finished second in 1996 at New Hampshire, but it has been a long struggle for him since. In fact, he went through a stretch of 14 consecutive races without a top-10 finish. His car owner - and father - Brad Calkins actually pulled the team off the circuit for two races during the middle of the 1998 season. But Buzz seems to have regained his rhythm. He finished fifth last month at Las Vegas, his second fifth of the season and his fourth top-10 finish in his last six races. Finishing, incidentally, is Calkins' forte this season. He has been running at the end of all nine races and has completed 1,721 of 1,824 laps, most by all drivers. Calkins has made his recent move while continuing his studies toward a master's degree at Northwestern University. He drives a red race car and flies the "red eye" to and from tracks so he won't miss any classes. *** Kelleys showing plenty of heart: Jim and Tom Kelley of Fort Wayne, Ind., co-owners of Kelley Racing in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, have spent the past week in Moldova, a small country on the western edge of Russia on a humanitarian mission. They have flown two cardiologists and a heart surgeon to this little-known country to teach the doctors there how to install pacemakers. The Kelleys own a company, Kelley Grain, in Moldova. They annually fly diesel oil into the country to provide fuel for the country's grain industry. They purchase the grain and resell it in nearby countries like Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Italy. But they also have provided much-needed farm equipment and done other humanitarian deeds for the financially depressed country that is about the size of Indiana. The Kelleys will return in time for the Mall.com 500, the Pep Boys Indy Racing League's season finale, on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. Kelley Racing driver Scott Sharp still has a mathematical chance at the winning the championship. He trails leader Greg Ray in fourth place, 255-209. Sharp and teammate Mark Dismore are already under contract through the 2000 season. Pick smart, earn $25,000: Mall.com is offering fans a chance to win $25,000 by correctly choosing the top eight finishers, in order, for the Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. Mall.com gift certificates also will be given to the top three entries whose drivers have the highest number of combined points based on their finish at the Mall.com 500. Fans can entered the contest at http://www.mall.com . All entries must be registered online by 1 p.m. (CDT) Oct. 17. On the road to Indy: Kevin Newton of Terre Haute, Ind., recently won the 1999 NAMARS Midget Series championship and will be honored as a champion in the Road To Indy program sponsored by the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. The NAMARS season concluded Oct. 3, and Newton will receive a $5,000 Road To Indy bonus award at the NAMARS awards banquet Nov. 27 in Indianapolis. He will also be invited to attend the Pep Boys Indy Racing League awards ceremony Nov. 13 in Indianapolis. The Road To Indy program is designed to increase awareness of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League among fans and competitors in open-wheel, short-track racing. In addition to the NAMARS Midget Series, the Road To Indy program also includes the USF2000 oval series and three racing divisions in USAC. More series will be added in 2000. Hot laps: Treadway Racing owner Fred Treadway is a featured guest Oct. 7 on the CNNfn network show, "Entrepreneur's Only." The show starts at 9:30 p.m. (EDT) ... Grammy Award-winning singer B.J. Thomas will sing the National Anthem before the Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway ... The winner of the "Best Looking Indy Racing League Car of the Year" award will be unveiled Oct. 16 at Texas Motor Speedway. More than 4,500 race fans and journalists voted for race teams at two World Wide Web sites. The nominees that received the most votes are the Pennzoil Panther Goodyear/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Scott Goodyear, the Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone driven by Greg Ray and the Dick Simon Racing-Mexmil-Tokheim-Viking Air Tools G Force/Aurora/Firestone driven by Stephan Gregoire. Tokheim, the official fuel dispenser of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, sponsors the award ... Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year contender Scott Harrington will visit patients at Cook Children's Medical Center on Oct. 11 in Fort Worth, Texas. He'll bring his CertainTeed Building Products Special show car to display to the children.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Jaques Lazier  , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Steve Knapp , Willy T. Ribbs , Scott Harrington , Kevin Newton , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt