PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Injured crew chief continues to improve INDIANAPOLIS, June 9, 1999 -- The Energizer Advanced Formula team and Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year driver Robby McGehee can feel a little more...
PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Injured crew chief continues to improve
INDIANAPOLIS, June 9, 1999 -- The Energizer Advanced Formula team and Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year driver Robby McGehee can feel a little more relaxed as they seek a strong finish in the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. Chief mechanic Steve Fried is up and about in his Indianapolis hospital room after suffering critical injuries in a pit-stop mishap during the Indianapolis 500 on May 30. He still is listed in fair condition, but has come a long way since he was rushed to the hospital. Team owner Dave Conti visited with Fried Sunday, and they watched the Milwaukee CART race on television. "The whole (race) day was just bittersweet," said Conti about the "500," where McGehee finished fifth in his Pep Boys Indy Racing League debut. "It was nice, but we couldn't enjoy it. "It was tough to focus for all of us. He definitely would not have wanted us to quit." Conti determined immediately after the race that his over-the-wall crew all would wear helmets at Texas. He said motorsports safety innovator Bill Simpson, founder of Simpson Racing Products, has been working with the team to make the helmets available. "After seeing what happened (at Indy), I don't want any of my guys out there without them," he said. Fried remains as crew chief, in name. Troy Stevens will handle the right-front tire-changing duties. Conti directs the team from the pit-scoring stand. McGehee, a St. Louis native, drove his Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone from 27th to fifth place in the "500." *** Arie's records: Arie Luyendyk, who will be in the TV booth doing color commentary on the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom at Texas Motor Speedway, ended his open-wheel racing career holding virtually every major speed record maintained in the Indianapolis 500. More than that, his record career Indy earnings of $5,648,779 is $1.35 million more than runner-up Rick Mears, a four-time winner. Luyendyk won Indy in 1990 and 1997. In turbocharged cars, the "Flying Dutchman" set the one-lap and four-lap qualifying records of 237.498 and 236.986 mph in 1996. That year he also turned the fastest unofficial practice speed ever recorded at the venerable track of 239.260. It was during his 1990 victory charge that he established the all-time winning speed of 185.981. "I think the average speed is determined by how many yellows they have, and there weren't many yellows that day," he said. "The average speed probably is not going to be broken, because they've changed the rules. Now the Pace Car picks up the leader and they close the pits, so that brings the average down quite a bit before they get it all sorted out. Then they have a speed limit. That also keeps it down. Those two things will make for low averages." Luyendyk's qualifying marks may stand unchallenged, too, he said, due to efforts by the Pep Boys Indy Racing League to control speeds. "So I might be fortunate enough to stay in the record book forever on these two records," he said. "It's nice to be a part of history of this great place." But Luyendyk's record setting doesn't stop there. By winning the pole for this year's race, he owns the qualifying and race records for normally aspirated engines. He turned a fast lap of 225.643 mph and a four-lap average of 225.179 during his inspired run. His winning speed of 153.176 mph in 1997 is the mark for cars without turbos. Also, in 1990 he set the standard for the 170-, 180- and 190-lap junctures of the race. Like Michael Jordan and John Elway before him in the past year, Luyendyk retired on top. *** Unbothered: Scott Goodyear, unhappy with his 27th-place finish in the Indy 500, didn't let another calamity faze him while testing his Pennzoil Panther Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear last week at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Severe thunderstorms swept the area and knocked out the electrical and phone service at his hotel. "Well, it was a bit windy," Goodyear noted laconically. Goodyear and the Panther team will appear on the NBC "Weekend Today Show" on June 13, the day after they race in the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom at Texas Motor Speedway. Taping of this segment came at Indianapolis. Host Jack Ford visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Carburetion Day and spent two days learning whether he had what it takes to be a crew member as the camera focused on him and the Panther team. *** Happy start: Bob Brant, vice president of Brant Motorsports, was pleased with the performance of new driver Raul Boesel despite a 12th-place finish at Indianapolis in his debut with the team. "After watching Raul during the last two weeks, seeing his driving capabilities in coming from the back of the field (33rd) to finish 12th, we know we made the right decision in hiring him as our driver," Brant said. "Raul provides our team with a tremendous amount of feedback regarding engineering and mechanics of the car, allowing us to set up the car properly. He brings so much to our team. He is not only a great driver, but has name recognition and is fantastic with the fans. "We look forward to what the rest of the season will bring." Boesel and the Brant team will make their second race appearance together Saturday night in the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom at Texas Motor Speedway. He drives the only Riley & Scott chassis in competition. It is powered by an Aurora engine and rolls on Goodyear tires. The car, incidentally, carries the number "3" and has a black paint job similar to that of NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt, who is a team advisor. *** Cheever honored again: Eddie Cheever Jr., 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion, hasn't lived in Florida for long, but he continues to pick up awards from the Sunshine State. The city of Orlando (his current residence) and the State of Florida saluted Cheever with "Eddie Cheever Day" on April 26-27 respectively. Now the Florida Sports Foundation and a media panel of 10 top Florida sportswriters picked Cheever for its annual Lucent Technologies "Champions Awards." He was chosen for his Indy victory and 25 years of participation in the sport at the highest level. Cheever will join such athletes as golfers Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, NBA stars Anfernee Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning, and NFL great Dan Marino -- all Florida residents -- in a gala awards ceremony June 18 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla. Hosting the event will be Lesley Visser and Dick Stockton, noted sports TV personalities. *** Women making mark in USAC: When the Pep Boys Indy Racing League was formed, founder Tony George said it was providing an opening to the big leagues for drivers coming up through the USAC open-wheel ranks. One driver, for instance, who is making a name for himself is Ed Carpenter, George's 19-year-old stepson. He's already won a USAC National midget race. And some of the drivers climbing the ranks are women. On June 6, Sarah McCune of Perrysburg, Ohio, driving national midgets while attending Indiana University, opened some eyes with a winning drive in a heat race at the high-banked track at Winchester Speedway in eastern Indiana. McCune became the first woman ever to win any kind of race at Winchester, which opened in 1916, just seven years after than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She outraced veterans Dave Steele and Dan Drinan to win her heat race, then finished seventh in the feature. Sarah Fisher of Ashville, Ohio, is another driving in the midget ranks. Out on the West Coast, Randi Pankratz finished second to Greg Edenholm in an Irwindale, Calif., TQ midget race and leads the series by 24 points. Another female driving in the Western States Midget series is Anne Coppel, another Californian. *** Almost: Mark Dismore, son of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver of the same name, nearly won his first U.S. F2000 race June 6 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. A rookie in the series, Dismore was the fastest qualifier. In the race, he battled points leader Dan Wheldon through 14 laps but spun out on Turn 8 of the next lap trying to get around Weldon for the lead. "Little Mark" finished 25th as Wheldon led all 22 laps and now holds a 10-point lead over Marc-Antoine Camirand in the standings. *** Hot laps: Emmanuel Lupe was hired June 7 as the team manager and director of marketing for Dick Simon Racing, which fields the Mexmil-Tokheim G Force/Aurora/Firestone driven by Stephan Gregoire. Lupe, from Paris, brings 15 years of motorsports experience to the team, including team ownership, public relations, marketing and business development Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Jimmy Kite is entered to drive the McCormack Motorsports entry at the Longhorn 500 despite undergoing an emergency appendectomy last week. ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" boxing series will take place Friday night at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway. Featured in one of the bouts will be heavyweight Eric "Butterbean" Esch.