Loudon, NH (June 28, 1998) - The Pep Boys Indy Racing League ran their third New England 200 today with Tony Stewart taking the win two seconds ahead of second place finisher Scott Goodyear. Also finishing on the lead lap were Scott Sharp in...
Loudon, NH (June 28, 1998) - The Pep Boys Indy Racing League ran their third New England 200 today with Tony Stewart taking the win two seconds ahead of second place finisher Scott Goodyear. Also finishing on the lead lap were Scott Sharp in third and Davey Hamilton in fourth. Sharp nipped Hamilton by less than half a second at the checkered flag.
If you don't like the track conditions at New Hampshire International Speedway, just wait a few laps. The IRL race was preceded by a 125 lap race for NASCAR Featherlite Modifieds, won by Mike Stefanik. After 125 laps of modified racing, the rubber left on the track creates a race condition for the Indy cars much different from practice or qualifying. It takes fifty to sixty laps for the Indy cars to lay down their rubber, making the track more compatible to the set ups put on the cars during practice.
"I don't think I've ever moved my sway bars or my weight-jacker so many times in my life" said Scott Sharp. "It seems like conditions were changing almost every couple of laps. Just about the time we got the looseness dialed out of the car, it started pushing pretty bad at the front. It was a deal where we just chased the car all day long."
Despite the constantly changing conditions, all three drivers on today's podium said they enjoyed the challenges presented by the one-mile flat track. "I think mile race tracks are neat for the fans, neat for the show, and a lot of competition for the drivers," Goodyear said. "This is a flat race track so you really have to put the car on the edge, you really have to use the brakes and set the cars up for the turns. It's fun for the drivers. I'd hate to see this race go because it's a neat race track."
Sharp agreed, "I like tracks where you're not just flat out the whole way around. This certainly is a track where you have to have a little more finesse and a little more mechanical grip in the car".
"These are the kind of tracks I look forward to," Stewart said. "Larry (Curry) gets to show his stuff when we go to mile and a half tracks. When we get to mile ovals, where we have to lift, I get to show what I have. >From a driver's standpoint this is one of the most fun tracks we run on."
Stewart's car owner, John Menard, summed it up when he said, "This is a great race track and I think we put on a good show here. I feel really bad that more spectators don't share my enthusiasm for this racetrack."
Scott Goodyear lost fifth gear early in the race. Since fifth and sixth gears were so close, Goodyear used sixth gear until just past half distance. With 80 laps to go Goodyear lost sixth gear too. Goodyear's car would hit the rev-limiter just past the start-finish line on the front straight. The Speedway Engines prepared Olds Aurora endured eighty laps of abuse in taking Goodyear to his second place finish.
Payback for Phoenix? Scott Sharp felt he was being held up by Tony Stewart's teammate Robbie Buhl. Sharp admitted that he probably didn't have anything for Stewart but was hoping to get close enough to Goodyear for a shot at second. With Sharp having trouble in traffic, Davey Hamilton pulled within striking distance of Sharp as the race wound down.