TOUGH '98 SEASON PREPARES McCORMACK TEAM FOR '99 SUCCESS LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 20, 1999 -- Car owner Dennis McCormack is taking a laid-back approach to the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season. "Last year I went in with very...
TOUGH '98 SEASON PREPARES McCORMACK TEAM FOR '99 SUCCESS
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 20, 1999 -- Car owner Dennis McCormack is taking a laid-back approach to the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season. "Last year I went in with very high expectations, and it (the season) was a disaster," McCormack said. "This year I have a different attitude. I'm going to take it as it comes." The season opener, the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway outside Orlando, Fla., is scheduled for Jan. 24. McCormack and wife, Felicia (who is team co-owner), will compete with the same veteran driver and high-profile sponsor. Brazilian Raul Boesel again will be in the cockpit, and adorning the sides of the car will be the same TransWorld Diversified Services that is sponsoring the race. It could be a pressurized event for the TransWorld Racing-McCormack Motorsports team, but the owner is downplaying the circumstances. "I don't look at it as pressure at all," he said. "I'm looking at it as just another race that we're going out and try to win. That's what I'm doing with the crew, telling them there isn't any pressure. "TransWorld is not putting any pressure on us at all. It would be a great story line if we should win." It was just a year ago that the McCormack's signed Boesel, who decided to move over from CART. In 1997, Boesel drove in all 17 CART races, won the pole at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., had a best finish of third (in a three-way main stretch sprint to the checkered flag) at Portland, Ore., and placed 10th in the final point standings. That's why McCormack was so pumped up about the 1998 season. Then at Orlando bad luck bit the team right away. Boesel and Robbie Buhl collided while exiting the pits. Though Boesel was listed as still running at the finish, he was 72 laps behind winner Tony Stewart. He was awarded 18th place. "The big think I see helping us improve is that anything bad that could happen last year would," McCormack said. "One thing led to another. We had motor problems, four or five crashes. "I see it as getting this behind us. When we were running, we were running in the top 10." Boesel led two races for 37 laps, but had a best finish of eighth at Phoenix and completed 1,262 of 2,288 possible laps. He finished 20th in the standings. McCormack noted that Boesel, who recently turned 41, has a good understanding that the 200-mile season opener is not a sprint race and knows how to pace himself. Boesel's best CART finish was a close second at Milwaukee, also a 200-miler on a mile oval. Boesel, who lives in Key Biscayne, Fla., again will be driving a G Force powered by Aurora. But in the one major change for 1999, McCormack has switched to Firestone tires. Boesel, a native of Curitiba, Brazil, originally started his sports career jumping show horses, following in the footsteps of his two brothers. However, the horsepower of go-karts became more attractive, and he was a champion by age 17. His career took him to England and eventually to Formula One. Despite several top-10 finishes, he could not secure a consistent ride in F1. He won a Formula 2 race in Rio de Janeiro in 1984 and next year wound up first at Indy team owner Dick Simon's doorstep and then on his couch.
Simon took him to Indy, and Boesel now has driven in the 500 10 times, with a best finish of third in 1989. Last year, he started 30th and placed 19th, a near duplicate of his Orlando race since he was running but 36 laps down at the checkered flag. "We've struggled through all of this," McCormack said. "If we get this monkey off our back, we'll be one of the teams to beat."