IRL: Pikes Peak Radisson 200 race report

FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 27, 1999 - Greg Ray claimed his first Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory by beating Sam Schmidt by .120 of a second to win the Radisson 200 on Sunday at Pikes Peak International Raceway. "After I saw the ...

FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 27, 1999 - Greg Ray claimed his first Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory by beating Sam Schmidt by .120 of a second to win the Radisson 200 on Sunday at Pikes Peak International Raceway. "After I saw the checkered flag I wanted to stop and cry," Ray said. "This is a great series. These cars are fun and I love to drive ovals. We gritted our teeth in the past and ran without money. But it's great to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." Ray, from Plano, Texas, and Schmidt battled throughout the entire event as the lead changed hands between the pair six times. Ray took the lead from Schmidt for the last time on Lap 178 on the 1-mile tri-oval in the Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. "When Sam and I were out there, we were clearly faster than everyone," Ray said. "But there were times when Sam was in the lead that he disappeared, and sometimes I was able to pull ahead. With 15 laps to go, I was just cruising with Cheever and Lazier. All of the sudden there was Sam again." Ray, who also won the PPG Pole award, earned $146,300 for the victory. His average speed was 134.111 mph, and he led four times for 109 laps. It was also the fifth Pep Boys Indy Racing League win for Team Menard. Davey Hamilton recorded his best finish of the season, claiming third after starting ninth in the Galles Racing Spinal Conquest Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Hamilton made a strong run to the finish after stalling during his last pit stop on Lap 167. 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. finished fourth in The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever Dallara/Infiniti/Goodyear, his best finish since switching to Infiniti power. Buddy Lazier finished fifth in the Delta Faucet-Coors Light-Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Lazier battled back after losing a lap when the yellow came out while pitting to finish on the led lap. Ray moved from eighth to third in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League points. Defending event and series champion Kenny Brack finished seventh in the A.J. Foyt PowerTeam Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. He lost a lap during a pit stop on Lap 87 when the PowerTeam crew was forced to use a manual jack after an air jack malfunction. Scott Goodyear remains on top of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League points after fighting an ill-handling car to finish 12th in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. The next Pep Boys Indy Racing League event is the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom on July 17 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

QUOTEBOOK:

GREG RAY (Winner, #2 Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): "After I saw the checkered flag, I wanted to stop and cry. My guys work so hard, and we've had so much trouble finishing. This is a great series. These cars are fun, and I love to drive ovals. We gritted our teeth in the past and ran without money. But it's great to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." (About the difference in setups on the Team Menard car between 1997-98 and 1999): "The setups we run now are different than the setups Tony Stewart had. The setups were really built around Tony, and we couldn't run them. Tom (Knapp) and I really worked on our setups. We got it right where we want it. You have to have a lot of confidence in the racecar. You can't plan racing. At Indy there are 33 cars out there, and you can't predict what's going to happen." (About the condition of the car): "Today this thing lost oil pressure early, and I don't know how it held together." (About the numerous lead changes): "As far as all the lead changes, you just can't make something happen when someone is in front of you. But when Sam (Schmidt) and I were out there, we were clearly faster than everyone. But there were times when Sam was in the lead that he disappeared. And sometimes I was able to pull ahead. With 15 laps to go, I was just cruising with Cheever and Lazier. All the sudden there was Sam again." (About battling for the lead at the halfway point): "Sam is an aggressive racer, and at the halfway point he had it, and he took it, but we'll have to check the timing and scoring." (About John Menard's absence at the last two races): "John Menard has been very busy, and he couldn't be here. He wasn't at Texas either, and we probably won't let him go to Atlanta (laughing)." (About winning): "I don't listen to a lot of the things when they say how good you are or how bad you are. Racing is really about doing your best."

SAM SCHMIDT (Second place, Sprint PCS G Force/Aurora/Firestone) (About the race): "It was fun. That thing went so fast. I told Greg, 'Let's go another 100 laps for all the marbles,' but he wouldn't go for it. A lot of guys could run 10 to 15 laps quick, and then fade. The crew did a heck of a job. We had a little problem with the first pit stop. Greg beat us out. I was upset at that. We were really charging at the end. I think it would have been a lot more exciting for the fans if we didn't have that traffic at the end. The car was pretty good in the end. We just needed a couple more laps." (About his last lap strategy): "I thought I would set him up out of (Turn) 2 on the last lap, and I think I was a little too late getting into the throttle. I think it's pretty much impossible to get by someone in (Turns) 3 and 4 unless they have to back off the throttle." (About the car): "We were able to run longer than anyone, I think, under green. We ran as long as we could to lighten up the fuel load at the end, and it worked." (About problems with the first pit stop): "We were running in conserved fuel mode, and I could barely get into the stalls in neutral, and I barely got it running again. I forgot to switch the car out of conserve fuel mode." (About returning here for the Colorado 200 in August): "I think our guys are going to do the same thing - work on downforce. Qualifying doesn't mean a hoot. We did not work on qualifying at all. We just worked on race setup. We came out of the box with the Phoenix setup and worked pretty well."

DAVEY HAMILTON (Third, #9 Galles Racing Spinal Conquest Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "I definitely want to stay racing here in Colorado. We came here and have been running well. We just decided to stay on pace. I really didn't have anybody to race with, because they were so far ahead of me. Our balance was great, but I don't know if I could've run with the leaders, because I never had a chance. We didn't hit our setup perfect, but we hit it good and we had a great race. This track is so wide, you can control the car when it gets loose. The guys know it's slick out there and you need a lot of downforce, but everybody did a great job. I really look forward to coming back here, but you have to have a good race car to survive, and today we did."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (Fourth, #51 The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever-Infiniti Dallara/Infiniti/Goodyear): "The Infiniti engine did a superb job. We had an engine that could have won today. When that yellow came out after our first stop, it put us out of sync, and we spent the rest of the day fighting to stay ahead of the leaders. Then, losing radio contact with the crew about midpoint, I could not communicate the small adjustments I needed to make to the car. Making up a lap with no radio is not an easy feat." (About battling with Buddy Lazier for the fourth position at the end): "If I had even thought of lifting, Lazier would have passed me. Some of my best races have been when I've been up against Buddy."

BUDDY LAZIER (Fifth, #91 Delta Faucet-Coors Light-Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "In the beginning, we were real strong. On the first yellow, we pitted just before the yellow and lost a lap and a half, which killed us. Then we were running real strong, trying to make it up. We tried to stretch it, and ran out of fuel. The car shut off out of four, and I was dead stick all the way around. It took 15 to 20 seconds in the pits to get the fuel pressure up and to get the car to run. We're thrilled with a top-five finish, considering we ran out of fuel and lost a lap and a half in the pits. It just didn't go our way. Had a little but of luck gone our way, I feel like we would have had a car to win today. We feel that we have a lot of momentum going into crunch time."

SCOTT GOODYEAR (12th, points leader, #4 Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear): "The car got better as we made changes, but we were so far down from the beginning, but we had struggled since we got here with tires and set up and today that was evident."

SCOTT HARRINGTON (19th, #66 The CertainTeed Building Products Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): "CertainTeed gave me the best car they could give me. It could pass high, it could pass low. It was incredible. We got caught out in the first accident, and we fell back a little bit." (About brushing the wall on Lap 183): "I came down low on (Scott) Goodyear. It was really my fault. I was trying to lap him and went low, and he came across. I then went up and just caught the marbles, and that was it. I ended up in the wall."

TOP 10 IN PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE POINT STANDINGS:

1. Scott Goodyear 164 2. Jeff Ward 149 3. Greg Ray 131 4. Eddie Cheever Jr. 121 5. Scott Sharp 109 Kenny Brack 109 7. Mark Dismore 107 Davey Hamilton 107 9. Buddy Lazier 104 10. Billy Boat 102

NEWS and NOTES:

Prophetic victory? If past history of the Radisson 200 is any indication, Greg Ray will go on to win the Pep Boys Million as league champion this season. The previous two winners of this event, Tony Stewart in 1997 and Kenny Brack in 1998, went on to win the Pep Boys Indy Racing League championship the same year as their victory at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Winning from the front: Greg Ray became the first Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver to win from the PPG Pole since Tony Stewart at the Indy 200 in January 1998 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. It was only the fourth time in 29 Pep Boys Indy Racing League events that a driver won from the PPG Pole. Speedy show: Greg Ray set a record time and average speed for this race: 1 hour, 29 minutes, 28.676 seconds, 134.111 mph. The previous record was 1 hour, 29 minutes, 52.649 seconds, 133.515 mph by Kenny Brack last August.

Team effort: This is the fifth Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory for Team Menard, tying A.J. Foyt Enterprises for the most wins by a team in league history.

Go, brother: The Lazier brothers, Buddy and Jaques, became the first brothers to both record top-10 finishes in a Pep Boys Indy Racing League event.

Buddy finished fifth in the Delta Faucet-Coors Light-Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear and Jaques 10th in the Truscelli Team Racing-Warner Bros. Studio Stores G Force/Aurora/Goodyear.

This was Jaques' best career finish, with his previous best of 22nd recorded at Texas earlier this month.

Rookie watch: John Hollansworth Jr. increased his lead in the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year standings with his 16th-place finish in the CompuCom-Lycos Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Hollansworth leads Scott Harrington, 69-50, in the rookie points. Harrington finished 19th after his day ended in an accident on Lap 184. He ran in the top five most of the day before the incident. Robby McGehee fell to third in the Sprint PCS rookie points with 46. McGehee did not start the event in his Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone due to an accident in the final practice Saturday. McGehee was unhurt, but the team couldn't repair his car in time for the race. Jaques Lazier was the top-finishing rookie in this event with a 10th-place finish in the Truscelli Team Racing-Warner Bros. Studio Stores G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. Truscelli Team Racing is based in nearby Colorado Springs. Climbing the mountain: TeamXtreme crew chief Rob Stark will remain in the Colorado Springs area this week to serve as crew chief for Jeri Unser, the sister of Robby Unser, as she competes in the 77th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on July 4. Rookie John Hollansworth Jr. drives the CompuCom-Lycos Dallara/Aurora/Firestone fielded by TeamXtreme. "I've just been around this for a long time," Stark said. "I know a lot of people who have done this, and I'm great friends with Robby and Jeri." Special guest: Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis visited with Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Tyce Carlson and Jim Harbaugh, quarterback for the San Diego Chargers quarterback and team owner of Pennzoil Panther Racing, before the event. Davis, Super Bowl XXXII Most Valuable Player and instrumental in the Broncos back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1998 and 1999, slid into Carlson's Blueprint-Immke Racing entry and donned a Pennzoil Racing baseball cap. Next event: Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom, July 17, Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Jaques Lazier  , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Tyce Carlson , Scott Harrington , Robby Unser , A.J. Foyt
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Panther Racing