IRL: Pep Boys IRL Weekly Notebook 98-07-13

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK INDIANAPOLIS, July 13, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League: Dover shaping up as tough test: At most Pep Boys IRL races, a powerful engine and well-tuned ...


INDIANAPOLIS, July 13, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League:

Dover shaping up as tough test: At most Pep Boys IRL races, a powerful engine and well-tuned chassis are essential for any chance at victory.

But many team owners and crew chiefs also are throwing another ingredient into the recipe for success at the Pep Boys 400K July 19 at Dover Downs International Speedway: driver fitness.

Drivers are subjected to strong, fatigue-inducing g-forces while driving the 24-degree banking in the turns on the 1-mile concrete "Monster Mile" at Dover. Even the fittest drivers could be worn out after 248 laps on the challenging oval.

"I feel Dover will be a very interesting race for the IRL cars," said Dennis McCormack, owner of the TransWorld Diversified Services-BELOIT-McCormack Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Raul Boesel. "With the track's high-banked turns, there will be a constant load on the cars and high g-force loads on the drivers.

"The end result of the race will most likely be determined by who is in the best physical condition. I believe there will be driver errors due to fatigue and constant maintaining of the car. The middle and end of the race will be crucial."

Said Kevin Blanch, crew chief of the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Scott Goodyear: "Because this will be such a physical race, the driver will need to pace himself and conserve his strength. If you drive full out from the get-go, rest assured you will fade by the end.

"It's going to take a well-conditioned athlete to finish this race. That's where Scott has the advantage. He works out regularly and is in great shape."

Driver Davey Hamilton recently began training with Jerry Simmons, strength and conditioning coach for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. Simmons is a longtime friend of Rick Galles, general manager of the Nienhouse Motorsports team that fields the Reebok-Nienhouse Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Hamilton.

Hamilton spent three days in Baltimore with Simmons, who evaluated his strength, cardiovascular fitness, training regimen and eating habits.

"We went over my workouts and nutritional habits, and I learned quite a bit about what I need to do to improve in both areas," Hamilton said. "I went out on the field with some of the players, and it was neat to work with such amazing athletes.

"I went in there with the attitude that if my crew can give me a perfect car at every race, I owe it to them and myself to be in perfect physical condition. I will do whatever it takes to make that happen."

Said Simmons, "These drivers sustain an incredible amount of stress to their bodies during a race, and Davey and I are working together to ensure that he is able to withstand that strain so he can focus on going fast."

*** Boat on the mend: Injured Pep Boys IRL driver Billy Boat continues to make progress in his recovery from a broken left leg and broken pelvis suffered during an accident in the New England 200 on June 28 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

It normally takes about eight weeks for these types of injuries to heal, but Boat could return to the cockpit of the Conseco-A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear for the Radisson 200 on Aug. 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Greg Ray will drive the Conseco car until Boat is healthy.

"I think I am ahead of schedule," Boat said. "I am training two hours a day and working at my shop, B&B Fabrication, four hours a day. I have been focusing on upper body and physical conditioning since last week and have already improved my strength.

"The staples in my leg will come out Tuesday (July 14). At that time I can start physical therapy on my leg. Then we will focus on a real aggressive therapy schedule to try to get back in the car as quickly as possible.

"I really want to thank the IRL safety team and medical staff for everything they did for me. They are really the best in the business. And, I want to thank all the fans and people in the racing community that sent flowers, cards and e-mail messages. All the support makes me want to work that much harder to get back to racing soon."


Double duty for Stewart at Charlotte: Pep Boys IRL points leader Tony Stewart is renowned for driving almost any race car he can find, and he'll try to complete another two-race, two-series weekend July 24-25.

But this might be one of the easiest doubles of the season for Stewart, who routinely flies from Pep Boys IRL events to NASCAR and USAC races in the same weekend. He will drive in the USAC North American Midget Championship on July 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The next night, he will drive the Glidden-Menards Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone in the VisionAire 500 Pep Boys IRL race at the same track.

The $51,100 race will be the richest one-day USAC midget race in its history. Stewart will drive a midget owned by Steve Lewis. Stewart won USAC national midget championships in 1994 and 1995.


Leffler joins Treadway Racing: Defending USAC midget national champion Jason Leffler recently signed with Treadway Racing, which fields the Sprint PCS-RadioShack-QUALCOMM G Force/Aurora/Firestone driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk.

Leffler, 22, will serve as a test driver for the team until the team secures sponsorship for a second car.

"I am very excited about the opportunities extended to me through Treadway Racing," Leffler said. "They are a top-notch team, and I enjoy assisting them with their testing efforts. Everyone has really helped to support my open wheel career, and I am looking forward to a full-time ride with Treadway in the IRL."

Leffler, from Long Beach, Calif., passed his IRL rookie test in early June at Texas Motor Speedway in a Treadway car. He also served as the team's test driver at the league's Open Test last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"Jason is a capable driver with demonstrated success in the Silver Crown and midget series, and we feel that he has exceptional potential," said team owner Fred Treadway. "Treadway Racing has always made an effort to support and assist up-and-coming young drivers and provide them opportunities within the IRL. Jason fits the IRL vision extremely well, and as a young, exciting talent, he has much to offer toward the growth of motorsports in Corporate America."


McCormack signs noted engineer: Buddy Fey has joined McCormack Motorsports as a race engineer for the rest of the season, team owner Dennis McCormack announced.

Fey joins McCormack and its driver, Raul Boesel, after serving as chassis development engineer for the NASCAR Winston Cup team owned by former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. With Gibbs' team, he worked on suspension, steering, shock absorbers, aerodynamics, data acquisition and analysis, and engineering.

Before his tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing, Fey worked for Pep Boys IRL driver Marco Greco. He also has worked in with teams in SCCA Trans Am and NHRA drag racing series during his motorsports career, which started in the early 1970s.

"It's a pleasure to join McCormack Motorsports and Raul Boesel for the remainder of the 1998 IRL season," Fey said. "The Indy Racing League is thriving on its competitive racing. I look forward to the challenge."


Father vs. son: Pep Boys IRL star Davey Hamilton faced some very familiar-looking competition during the Rocky Mountain Classic USAC Silver Crown race July 12 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Hamilton raced against a field of 30 drivers that included his father, Ken Hamilton. Davey Hamilton finished 16th in the 100-lap feature won by John Heydenreich. Ken Hamilton was 20th.


Next event: Pep Boys 400K, July 19, Dover Downs International Speedway, Dover, Del. Tickets are available by calling Dover Downs at (800) 441-7223 or (302) 734-7223.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Greg Ray , Davey Hamilton , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Raul Boesel , Jerry Simmons , John Heydenreich , A.J. Foyt
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing