IRL: Points Race Thickens as Series Heads for Pikes Peak

POINTS RACE GETS THICK AS INDY RACING HEADS FOR THIN AIR Goodyear, Ward lead long list of Pep Boys Million contenders to Pikes Peak FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 16, 1999 - This year's Radisson 200 can be described as matter of thick and thin. ...

POINTS RACE GETS THICK AS INDY RACING HEADS FOR THIN AIR Goodyear, Ward lead long list of Pep Boys Million contenders to Pikes Peak

FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 16, 1999 - This year's Radisson 200 can be described as matter of thick and thin. There's no doubt that the points race will be very thick while Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers compete in the thin air of Pikes Peak International Raceway, located 5,357 feet above sea level at the base of the towering Rocky Mountains. Scott Goodyear holds a 19-point lead over Jeff Ward in the point standings entering the Radisson 200 on June 27 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The 200-lap race on the 1-mile oval starts at noon (MDT) and will be televised on FOX Sports Net. Goodyear heads to Pikes Peak as the hottest driver in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. He has won two of the four races this season in the Pennzoil Panther Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, including the last race, the Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom on June 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. That victory vaulted Goodyear past Ward and back into the points lead, 146-127. Moreover, the win established Goodyear as the league's most diversified driver so far this season. His first victory came on a relatively flat, 1-mile track in March at Phoenix, while the win at Texas came on a high-banked, 1.5-mile track. Such diverse driving skill paved the way for Kenny Brack to win the Pep Boys Million and series championship last year. Brack was the only driver to win on the 1.5-mile high banks and 1-mile flat tracks last year with victories at Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta and with an empty fuel tank at Pikes Peak. In fact, the winners the last two years at Pikes Peak went on to win the season title: Brack in 1998 and Tony Stewart in 1997. Goodyear could follow the same blueprint for a title, too. But first he must fend off a growing list of contenders for the title. Ward is the most immediate threat. He lost the points lead to Goodyear after finishing 18th in Texas in the Yahoo!-MerchantOnline.com Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear - his first finish outside of the top three this season. But Ward is one of the best drivers in the league on 1-mile ovals. He finished third and second, respectively, this year on the miles at Walt Disney World Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. He also dominated the first half of this race last year, leading 97 of the first 117 laps before an accident ended his day. Mark Dismore also has quietly climbed into third place in the points at 97 in his MCI WorldCom Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Dismore has finished in the top 10 in three of four starts this season and won his first career PPG Pole at Texas. That mixture of consistency and speed could deliver his first career victory at Pikes Peak. Ward and Dismore are just two of the contenders for the top spot. Just 26 points separate third-place Dismore from 12th-place Robby Unser. That pack includes three of the last four Indianapolis 500 winners: 1998 champ Eddie Cheever Jr. fifth at 89, 1999 winner Brack in seventh at 83 and 1996 winner and Vail, Colo., resident Buddy Lazier ninth at 74. Greg Ray is another driver to watch in that points logjam. He climbed from a tie for 20th to eighth in the points after finishing a season-best second at Texas in the Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Ray finished 17th at Pikes Peak in 1997, his only prior appearance at the track. But that finish came with the low-budget Thomas Knapp Motorsports. Both Ray and team manager Knapp moved after last season to Team Menard, which fielded a winning car at this race in 1997 for Stewart. Former Team Menard drivers Robbie Buhl and Stewart finished second and third, respectively at this event last year, a testament to the team's ability to cope with the unique atmospheric conditions at Pikes Peak. The air at Pikes Peak has less oxygen due to the altitude of more than a mile above sea level, forcing teams to make subtle but important changes in engine tuning and gearing. Trimming the aerodynamics of the car also can become tricky.

RADISSON 200 NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The Radisson 200 starts at noon (MDT) June 27. PPG Pole qualifying starts at 1 p.m. (MDT) June 26. Practice sessions start at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (MDT) June 25, and 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. (MDT) June 26.

*** On the air: The Radisson 200 will be televised live at 2 p.m. (EDT) June 27 on FOX Sports Net. SpeedVision will televise PPG Pole qualifying live at 3 p.m. (EDT) June 26. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) June 27, followed by the live race broadcast at 2 p.m. IRRN also will broadcast a qualifying highlights show at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) June 26. The area IRRN affiliates are KRDO-AM 1240, Colorado Springs, Colo.; and KKFN-AM 950, Denver. The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.

*** Tickets: Tickets are available for the Radisson 200. Call (888) 306-7223 or (719) 382-7223 for more information. Ticket information also is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.ppir.com/ticketing .

Source: IMS/IRL

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Kenny Brack , Robby Unser
Teams Panther Racing