Racing to daylight: After competing in two races at Texas Motor Speedway, the drivers of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League know that the 1.5-mile quad-oval is one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. They also know that the smooth surface...
Racing to daylight: After competing in two races at Texas Motor Speedway, the drivers of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League know that the 1.5-mile quad-oval is one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. They also know that the smooth surface and 24-degree banking in the turns produces plenty of side-by-side racing. But there will be a new wrinkle for the league's drivers as they head to TMS for the Lone Star 500 on Sept. 20. This is the first time that an Indy Racing League event has taken place during the day at the track, and drivers and teams are making adjustments. Nienhouse Motorsports, which fields the Reebok Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear for Davey Hamilton, will change its chassis setup to compensate. Hamilton is second in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League standings, 23 points behind leader Kenny Brack.
"Because the heat tends to play a role in our setup, we will try to get our car as low as we can to get more grip in the car," Hamilton said. "We will probably try to make the car softer with springs to give us more grip in the corners."
The heat could be the major factor in the outcome of the race, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. said.
"I anticipate that the heat will play a factor in our engine performance and the car's overall aerodynamics," Cheever said. "Our cars are very sensitive to temperature changes due to their finer technical envelope. "The team that finds the most effective way to push their car through this Texas heat will win on Sunday."
Goodyear and Firestone also are tinkering with their tires for the race. "When we won in June at Texas, it was a night race," said Paul J. Lauritzen, Goodyear operations manager for the Indy Racing League. "This weekend, we'll be racing in the early afternoon, in the toughest heat of the day, so we all have to take what could be an incredibly hot track surface into consideration."
Goodyear engineers estimate that cars will need pit stops about every 40 laps of the 208-lap race, based on fuel capacity.
Goodyear, Steele fly in Texas test: Scott Goodyear and new rookie teammate Dave Steele are ready to roll this weekend at the Lone Star 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, if recent testing is any indication. Goodyear turned an unofficial fast lap of 225.9 mph at Texas Motor Speedway - 1.5 mph faster than the qualifying track record - during a test session Sept. 10 on the 1.5-mile quad-oval. His fast lap in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear surpassed the record qualifying speed of pole sitter Tony Stewart, 224.448 mph, on June 5 during the True Value 500. Stewart posted the fastest race lap by a new-formula Indy Racing League car, 228.012 mph, during the race the next evening. Steele, turned a top speed of 222.0 mph. He will drive for the Pennzoil Panther team as Goodyear's teammate for the first time at the Lone Star 500.
Texas Two-Step: Billy Boat is the leading candidate to win the Texas Two-Step Championship and a $100,000 bonus at the Lone Star 500 on Sept. 20 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The driver who scores the most combined points at this race and the True Value 500, completed June 6 at TMS, will earn the big bonus. Boat won the True Value 500 in the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, a Houston resident.
"We are really looking forward to the second Texas race this year," Boat said. "You always like to come to a place where if you are behind someone but are faster, that it is possible to pass him. After winning in June, our whole team is very anxious." The driver with the second-highest total will earn $50,000. Greg Ray, from Plano, Texas, finished second in the True Value 500 in the TKM-Genoa Dallara/Aurora/Firestone.
Pit challenge: Team Pelfrey and Team Cheever will compete in a Pep Boys Pit Stop Challenge from noon-1 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 16 at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Team Cheever owner and driver, 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr., his teammate, Robby Unser, and Team Pelfrey driver Brian Tyler will be joined by fellow Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers for an autograph session after the competition.
Solar students: Pep Boys Indy Racing League owner-driver Stan Wattles will play host Sept. 20 at Texas Motor Speedway to 25 students from the Winston School who are building their eighth solar-powered car.
The students are members of the solar car program at the school, located in Dallas. The Winston School is involved in a worldwide solar education program, plays host to the annual Winston Solar Challenge and competed in the 1997 World Solar Challenge in Australia.
Successful promotion in the bag: Pep Boys Indy Racing League standouts Eddie Cheever Jr., Arie Luyendyk and Tony Stewart are featured on a special edition meal bag and tray liner at 34 Chick-fil-A restaurants in the Fort Worth-Dallas metroplex area. The promotion is publicizing the Lone Star 500 on Sept. 20 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Beechler wins at Indy: Pep Boys Indy Racing League rookie Donnie Beechler won a race Sept. 12 on 16th Street in Indianapolis.
No, no, Beechler didn't win at that track on 16th Street. He won the USAC midget feature at 16th Street Speedway, a few miles east of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Defending Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart finished 17th in the 40-lap feature. Stewart, two-time USAC midget champion, was honored by the track for his USAC and Indy Racing League accomplishments.
Chef Jack: Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Dr. Jack Miller replaced his driving helmet with a chef's hat earlier this month in a charity event at a Benihana restaurant in Indianapolis that benefited the Indiana Children's Bureau Adoption Program. Miller joined many Indiana politicians and Indianapolis Colts running back Marshall Faulk to prepare food in the inaugural Celebrity Cook-Off for Adoption.
Next event: Lone Star 500, Sept. 20, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas. Tickets are available by calling TMS at (817) 215-8500.
World Wide Web: http://www.indyracingleague.com