IRL: Phoenix Race Report

RACE REPORT: MCI WORLDCOM 200 Goodyear earns first Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory, takes points lead By Beth Agan and Paul Kelly PHOENIX, March 28, 1999 - Scott Goodyear captured his first Pep Boys Indy Racing...

RACE REPORT: MCI WORLDCOM 200 Goodyear earns first Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory, takes points lead

By Beth Agan and Paul Kelly

PHOENIX, March 28, 1999 - Scott Goodyear captured his first Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory Sunday, beating runner-up Jeff Ward to the finish by 4.738 seconds to win the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Goodyear, from Carmel, Ind., averaged 102.856 mph in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear in the 200-mile race slowed by eight caution flags. Goodyear, who earned $139,600, led 134 of 200 laps on the 1-mile oval. He took the lead for good on lap 149.

"This is our first win in this series after a couple of years, and it feels absolutely great," Goodyear said. "It was great for the team. We finished as high as second before, but this definitely is better that that. It's a long time coming in the IRL." Ward finished second in the Pagan Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear in the team's first race this season. Goodyear appeared to be headed to an easy victory when Roberto Moreno spun on lap 193, triggering the last caution period. But Goodyear got a big jump on the final restart on lap 196 while Ward was trapped behind three lapped cars.

Goodyear then pulled away for the victory. He took the lead in the season point standings with the victory. "I was feeling good with 10 laps to go, and that last yellow came out," Goodyear said. "I was thinking, 'Man, what is this all about?' Wardy is a hard charger."

Robbie Buhl finished third in the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, the Infiniti engine's second-best finish in Pep Boys Indy Racing League competition.

Billy Boat won the MCI WorldCom Long Distance Award after charging to a fourth-place finish after starting 23rd in the A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Rookie Scott Harrington finished fifth in the Harrington Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, the last driver on the lead lap. Pole-sitter Greg Ray's day ended after an incident with John Paul Jr. in Turn 2 on lap 94. "I don't know if John Paul had tire problems or got into the dirt but he braked way too quickly and we had nowhere to go," Ray said. "We were just hanging out in second place. We were faster than Scott Goodyear. I was in no big hurry to make a move."

Goodyear took the lead for the second and final time on Lap 149 after an incident between Eddie Cheever Jr. and Buddy Lazier in Turn 3 when battling for the lead.

The next Pep Boys Indy Racing League event is the VisionAire 500 on May 1 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.


SCOTT GOODYEAR (Winner): "Our biggest thing was making sure it (car) was there at the end. It was pushing at mid-race, and that was making it difficult. Andy Brown made a change in tires and wings that worked very well. From there, I was able to run 21.5's (second laps) the whole way. My whole thing was that I wanted to keep pressure on Buddy (Lazier) and Eddie (Cheever Jr.)." (About accident between Lazier and Cheever): "I was coming up to turn three, and there was not a lane available. Scott (Harrington) was in front of me, and he slowed down. I almost had no place to go. It was a case of avoiding debris. That hasn't happened here before. I think back on the '94 race here when I picked up Michael Andretti's wheel and hub and brake assembly. That was a situation where I could have gone home with a headache or not even gone home. Today it was my lucky day. Restarts played a big role. We've worked hard on some different things. The key was could I do it one more time. I couldn't believe that last restart. I thought to myself, 'What is this all about?' IRL wants us to maintain restart speeds and not to the jackrabbit or start-up-and-slow-down restarts that CART does. We've got a good team working together this year. Everyone is back, and we don't have people doing multiple jobs.

JEFF WARD (Second place): "The race today was tough conditions. I did have some close calls. I was right behind the accident on the front straightaway, and I got close to Robbie (Buhl), and I passed him on the inside near the end of the race. We missed pretty much all of Friday. We had problems with the hubs, brakes and fuel pickup. We changed settings Friday night, and it was a totally different car. We didn't have a lot of time in before qualifying with these settings. To get 200 laps in this car today was really good. I had a good run going in the car. But a paper bag knocked my mirror out of whack. I tried to fix it, but about the time I did that I also needed to shift gears. I got on the rev limiter too hard. I almost got into with (John) Hollansworth when his gearbox went out. Scott (Goodyear) had the car today, and it would have been very difficult to beat him."

ROBBIE BUHL (Third place): "I think it's a dramatic improvement from Orlando. I'm just getting to know these guys. I'm really pumped about this finish. This will help us build from here. Coming from an operation like Menard, it's really helped me a lot. I've been on both sides of the fence. Even before Menard, I was on some well- and low-funded teams. I learned a lot from Menard, which makes me valuable to my team now. It's different, though. We're not staying at the Biltmore or anything. Orlando didn't go the way any of us wanted. Hopefully this podium will give us and Infiniti that much more confidence. Two different scenarios from Menard to here. But no matter whether you're well-funded or not, the guys working on the car are always working their hardest."

BILLY BOAT (Fourth place): "It was one of those weekends. I just can't get ahead. I came from the back I don't know how many times. I started 23rd. If it stayed green with no yellows, then we would have had a chance to win. This is how we want to do it. We had a good, strong finish. I'm happy. For starting 23rd, we're pretty happy. That's what we expect to do this year. Last year we were on the hook way too often. This year we know if we finish and stay in the top five consistently, eventually we'll win. We gambled on that stop, and it ended up getting us. We knew we had to make one stop and hoped that it would stay green and work in our favor. If it had worked, we would have looked like heroes. I was a little disappointed after yesterday, but it's the race that counts. So it's great to finish." (About Robbie Buhl's strong run in an Infiniti-powered car): "Buhl had that Nissan running very well. It made it hard to catch him. We definitely have two motors on this track now. That should make it interesting this season."

SCOTT HARRINGTON (Fifth place): "I feel bad for hitting Cheever, but a slower car parked it in the groove and I got hit myself. And then I hit Cheever. It was a chain-reaction thing. I've never been hit so many times in a race in my life, but that's because the IRL is so competitive. It was a pretty wild race. To finish in the top five in only its second race is a great testament to the people of Harrington Motorsports, Infiniti engines and Firestone tires. Now hopefully we'll be able to get a primary sponsor. Hopefully a company will notice our hard work, perseverance and fantastic people and come on board. I think our team has the best guys out there, and I think we showed a lot of people what we can do today. We had a great car. A fantastic run today. The Infiniti is a great engine. We're not giving anything up. The car was great. It just wouldn't go away. We struggled in traffic and missed the traffic setup a little. This team didn't even exist until January 1. We probably have the lowest budget of anyone out there. Unfortunately, we're one of the smallest teams out there, but hey, we still had a great day."


Swingin' Sammy visits race: Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa attended the MCI WorldCom 200 as a guest of Jonathan Byrd/Cunningham Racing and Visionaire. He spent a moment with John Paul Jr., after his race-ending accident. "Don't take it to heart," Sosa told Paul. "You've just got to put it behind you because tomorrow will be a better day. It happens to me all the time. I have had bad games but I don't let them get to me."

Tough start: Jaques Lazier earned a provisional starting spot in his debut Pep Boys Indy Racing League event but didn't start due to an engine-related problem during practice Sunday morning in the Tivoli Lodge G Force/Infiniti/Goodyear.

"We could find one (engine)," said Lazier, brother of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier. "But the bigger problem is that we don't know why this occurred. Our biggest goal is Indy. Because we don't know why we had a spike in oil pressure, we decided to take a step back. If we had another (problem), it'd set us way back."

Star power: Actor Jason Priestley, star of the hit FOX series "Beverly Hills 90210," served as the honorary starter of the MCI WorldCom 200.

Miscellaneous notes: .Robbie Buhl's third-place finish was the second-best in Pep Boys Indy Racing League history for the Infiniti engine. The best was Mike Groff's second in 1997 at Orlando, Fla. .Buhl's third and Scott Harrington's fifth marked the second time an Infiniti engine had two drivers in the top five. The first was when Groff finished second and Buddy Lazier finished fifth in 1997 at Orlando. .The win was Scott Goodyear's first in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. His best previous finish was second on four occasions - 1997 at Indianapolis, 1997 at Las Vegas, 1998 at Loudon, N.H., and 1999 at Orlando, Fla. .Jeff Ward tied his career-best finish with a second. He also finished second in 1998 at Orlando, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. .Scott Harrington's fifth-place finish was his best in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. His previous best finish was 15th in 1996 at Indianapolis.

New hire: Gilbert Lage, veteran engineer for Dick Simon Racing and other teams, has signed as engineer for Cahill Racing and driver Donnie Beechler.

"The Streak" lives: Davey Hamilton's streak of running every Pep Boys Indy Racing League race in history is intact and reached 26 at this event. Eddie Cheever Jr., Stephan Gregoire and Buddy Lazier have started 25 league races.

First pole: Greg Ray's PPG Pole was the first of his Pep Boys Indy Racing League career. His previous best start was second in 1998 at Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C., and in 1999 at Orlando, Fla. Ray's pole marks the 10th for Team Menard in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. The team's last pole was in July 1998 at Charlotte, N.C., with Tony Stewart driving.

Breakthrough: Mark Dismore started second in the MCI WorldCom 200 Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, the first front-row start of his Pep Boys Indy Racing League career. His previous best start was third in 1998 at Dover, Del.

Point standings (After 2 of 11 races) 1. Scott Goodyear 93 2. Jeff Ward 75 3. Eddie Cheever Jr. 63 4. Scott Sharp 61 5. Mark Dismore 56 6. Billy Boat 54 7. Robbie Buhl 45 8. Raul Boesel 42 9. Scott Harrington 35 10. Stephan Gregoire 34 11. Buddy Lazier 32 12. Steve Knapp 31 Roberto Guerrero 31 14. Buzz Calkins 29 Andy Michner 29 16. Roberto Moreno 28 17. Davey Hamilton 27 John Paul Jr. 27 19. John Hollansworth Jr. 26 20. Tyce Carlson 25 Sam Schmidt 25 22. Donnie Beechler 23 24. Robby Unser 19 25. Marco Greco 18 26. Brian Tyler 16 27. Kenny Brack 14 28. Eliseo Salazar 10 29. Gualter Salles 7 30. Stan Wattles 6 31. Jason Leffler 2 Jaques Lazier 2

POLE AWARDS                                ROOKIE OF THE YEAR                
Driver        Team        Pole Wins                        Driver        Points
Scott Sharp        Kelley Racing        1                1.        Scott Harrington        35
Greg Ray        Team Menard        1                2.        John Hollansworth Jr.        26
                                3.        Jason Leffler        2
                                4.        Jaques Lazier        2
TOP 5 LAP LEADERS                                PIT STOP CHALLENGE                
Driver                Laps Led                        Team        Place
Scott Goodyear                170                #30        McCormack Motorsports        WDWS
Scott Sharp                103                #4        Panther Racing        PIR
Eddie Cheever Jr.        62                                
Billy Boat                29                                
Raul Boesel                19                                
HALFWAY AWARD                                LONG DISTANCE AWARD                
Driver                Wins                Driver                Wins
Scott Sharp                1                Eddie Cheever Jr.                1
Billy Boat                1                Billy Boat                1
                                ENGINE MANUFACTURER                
                                Engine                Points
                                Oldsmobile                22
FIRST TO 99 AWARD                        Nissan                14
Driver                Wins                TIRE MANUFACTURER                
Raul Boesel                1                                Wins
John Hollansworth Jr.        1                Goodyear                2
                                Firestone                0
        CHASSIS MANUFACTURER                                        
        Chassis                                Points        
        Dallara                                17        
        G Force                                17        
        Riley & Scott                                10        

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jason Leffler , Gualter Salles , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Michael Andretti , Jaques Lazier  , Roberto Guerrero , Raul Boesel , Donnie Beechler , Roberto Moreno , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Steve Knapp , Tyce Carlson , Brian Tyler , Scott Harrington , Jason Priestley , Stan Wattles , Robby Unser , John Paul , Paul Kelly , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing