IRL: Pikes Peak Pagan Racing Preview

Yahoo! MerchantOnline Pagan Racing Team 3rd Annual Radisson 200 Who: Driver - Jeff Ward Sponsors - Yahoo! - Car - Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear What: Radisson 200 Where: Pikes Peak ...

Yahoo! MerchantOnline Pagan Racing Team

3rd Annual Radisson 200

Who: Driver - Jeff Ward Sponsors - Yahoo! - Car - Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear What: Radisson 200

Where: Pikes Peak International Raceway, Fountain, Colorado 1-mile tri-oval superspeedway 200 miles / 200 laps

When: 12:00 Noon (MDT) Sunday, June 27, 1999

Notes: Jeff Ward is currently second in the Pep Boys Indy Racing point standings trailing by 19 points.

Jeff Ward has his eyes on the Pep Boys Indy Racing Championship and the $1 million bonus that comes along with it. But winning a championship has to be done one race at a time. "I think about every race one race at a time," said Ward. "The only guys I worry about are the ones that I have to pass or beat during the race. You can't look at the future and worry about who is going to win the next race or the one after. I just try to race who I'm with at the time."

With the close points battle in the Indy Racing League, the championship could come down to the last race of the season at the Texas Motor Speedway on October 17th. "When I get to the last race of the season, all I concern myself with is who I have to beat or what position I need to be in to win the championship. That's the way I've always done it in the past," said the seven-time motocross champion, "hopefully we'll be in that position at the last race. All I can ask for is to be in a position to win a championship at the last race."

Ward and current points leader, Scott Goodyear have leapfrogged each other in the points battle after the last three races. With his second place finish at the Indianapolis 500, Ward took over the points lead. When Ward experienced mechanical problems at Texas, he moved to second place behind Goodyear. Only nineteen points separate them.

"It's important to win races," Ward said. "That will put us ahead in the points. I don't want to try and stay close in the points. I want to be in the lead. We had an unfortunate race at Dallas with mechanical problems otherwise we were in great position to win and continue to lead the points. Anything can happen to us or to Scott and there are other guys capable of putting together a few wins."

The next race is the Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colorado, which is about an hour south of Denver.

Despite the fact that Pikes Peak International Raceway is located 5,357 feet above sea level, Ward doesn't think the altitude will cause any problems for the drivers. "Altitude, for what we do, doesn't have anything to do with any cardiovascular threshold. I've done tons of cycling and motocross races at altitude and sometimes it's good to get acclimated to it. When you're racing cars at higher altitudes, your heart rate doesn't get any higher than usual. It just takes a little longer for it to come down. The best thing to do is to get your heart rate up a bit before you go out in the race car. That helps to get your heart tuned up. Unless we're asked to get out of the car and run five miles after the race, it shouldn't be a problem for anyone," Ward said, with a smile.

After running the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway, Ward looks forward to Pikes Peak International Raceway and a different set of challenges. "Pikes Peak is a handling track and is always good for guys that like to set up their cars. At all the mile tracks you have to get off the throttle and get on the throttle and that has a lot to do with the grip in the car, keeping the grip and keeping the balance. It's a lot of fun going to these mile tracks where you have to really drive and make changes to the car that can win you the race instead of just holding your foot down flat."

Last year's Radisson 200 was Ward's first visit to Pikes Peak International Raceway. He qualified on the front row proving that he'd be a threat in the race. He led three times before his day was ended by an accident on lap 117. "I ran real well at Pikes Peak last year. I've been running real well this year too. This year I haven't led as many laps as I would have liked to but we're better in the points than we were last year. Last year I led 97 laps at Pikes Peak but it didn't do me any good. I'd rather just lead one lap, the last one."

The Radisson 200 takes the green flag at 12:00 Noon (MDT) on Sunday, June 27. Live television coverage will be provided by FOX Sports Net at 2:00 p.m. (EDT).

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Ward , Scott Goodyear