ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH FOR RAY AND AURORA Greg Ray Breaks Through with First IRL Victory; Oldsmobile Races to 24th Consecutive Win with Perfect Reliability Record FOUNTAIN, Colo; June 27, 1999 - Greg Ray fulfilled his promise in Indy car racing...
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH FOR RAY AND AURORA
Greg Ray Breaks Through with First IRL Victory; Oldsmobile Races to 24th Consecutive Win with Perfect Reliability Record
FOUNTAIN, Colo; June 27, 1999 - Greg Ray fulfilled his promise in Indy car racing with a breakthrough victory today in the Radisson 200 at mile-high Pikes Peak International Raceway. Ray, 32, of Plano, Texas, scored his first win in Pep Boys Indy Racing League competition in Team Menard's Glidden Oldsmobile Dallara by a .120-second margin over Sam Schmidt on the one-mile PPIR oval. Davey Hamilton completed Oldsmobile's sweep of the podium with a third-place finish in Galles Racing's Spinal Conquest Dallara. "After I saw the checkered flag, I wanted to stop and cry," said the relieved Ray, who improved on his runner-up finish two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway. "This is the real deal, and it's great for the team. I've said all along that this was the toughest race of the year. If we can win here, we can win anywhere." Two years ago, PPIR was the site of Team Menard's first IRL victory by Tony Stewart. Ray replaced the NASCAR-bound Stewart at the start of the season. On Saturday, Ray gave the Indianapolis-based team its 11th pole in the IRL series with a 176.005 mph lap. Today he scored Team Menard's fifth IRL victory, averaging 134.111 mph over the 200 mile distance. Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 racked up its 24th straight victory in the IRL series and finished the 200-mile race with a perfect reliability record. Twenty-three of the 24 starters used Oldsmobile powerplants, and none dropped out with engine problems. Twenty cars were running at the finish of the 200-lap contest, with 19 of them powered by Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8s. The race was slowed by three caution periods for a total of 23 laps. Ray's run to the checkered flag was far from routine. "Our radios were starting to fade, and I didn't know how close Sam was," he reported. "Then in the last ten laps I could see that black-and-red car in my mirrors. The telemetry wasn't working. We tried to run in top gear and stay off the limiter. She was starting to rattle, and I saw Sam coming. I was just driving it for all it was worth." Ray and Schmidt combined to lead all 200 laps in their Oldsmobile-powered entries. Schmidt's runner-up finish in Treadway Racing's Sprint PCS Oldsmobile G-Force bettered his third-place in Texas and equaled his career-best performance in last year's Las Vegas finale. "I just didn't have enough time," said Schmidt. "I think our car was a little better than his, but we ran out of laps. I was just a little late on the gas on the last lap, and never got close enough to make a move on Greg. I'm ready to race him for another 100 laps, winner take all! "We had power all day," Schmidt noted. "Comptech Machine did an incredible job building a motor for this place. We were able to run longer than anyone else under green flag conditions. We ran as long as we could and took on a light fuel load at the finish. I think that definitely helped us." Hamilton notched his third podium finish in the three IRL events that have been contested at PPIR. "I love racing in Colorado!" exclaimed the Idaho native. "I knew coming into the pits for the last stop there was no clutch. The car stalled, but the crew got it started again. That hurt us under green flag conditions." The Radisson 200 was the first event conducted at PPIR with the IRL's new 10,000 rpm rev limit in effect. "I'm in favor of that rule," Hamilton commented. "We always want to go faster and have an advantage, but our motor had over 600 miles on it at the end of this race. I practiced with it, qualified with it, and raced with it. The reliability and longevity is great. I know that most of the motor guys haven't had time to make new camshafts for the 10,000 rpm limit, but I expect to see higher speeds at the next race." Ray's victory vaulted him from eighth to third in the championship standings with 131 points. Scott Goodyear, the points leader coming into the fifth round of the ten-race series, struggled to a 12th place finish with handling problems at PPIR, but maintained his lead with 164 points. Jeff Ward is second with 149 points after finishing ninth in the Radisson 200. The IRL series' next race, the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500, will take place under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday night, July 17.
RADISSON 200 TOP TEN FINISHERS Driver Entrant Engine Laps 1. Greg Ray Team Menard Oldsmobile 200 2. Sam Schmidt Treadway Racing Oldsmobile 200 3. Davey Hamilton Galles Racing Oldsmobile 200 4. Eddie Cheever, Jr. Team Cheever Infiniti 200 5. Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Oldsmobile 200 6. Robby Unser Team Pelfrey Oldsmobile 199 7. Kenny Brack A.J. Foyt Ent. Oldsmobile 199 8. Scott Sharp Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 198 9. Jeff Ward Pagan Racing Oldsmobile 196 10. Jaques Lazier Truscelli Racing Oldsmobile 195
Pole: Greg Ray/Oldsmobile, 176.005 mph Fastest Lap: Mark Dismore/Oldsmobile, 168.721 mph