STEVE KNAPP TEXAS RACE NOTES "OF PATIENCE AND PROMISE" FORT WORTH, Texas (September 22, 1998) -- On a day which saw both soaring temperatures and tire pressures, this weekend's Lone Star 500 at Bruton Smith's spectacular Texas Motor Speedway was...
STEVE KNAPP TEXAS RACE NOTES "OF PATIENCE AND PROMISE"
FORT WORTH, Texas (September 22, 1998) -- On a day which saw both soaring temperatures and tire pressures, this weekend's Lone Star 500 at Bruton Smith's spectacular Texas Motor Speedway was again a test of patience and a show of promise for Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, Steve Knapp and his #18 EARLS Performance/PDM Racing G-Force Aurora.
Although disappointed with their qualifying result, Knapp, with Chuck Buckman and Paul Diatlovich's small but talented PDM Racing team, made big gains in the final half hour practice Saturday afternoon. Searching for the elusive extra couple miles per hour, Knapp and the team would find the right combination of setup and tires in the final 10 minutes of the session. After the session Knapp commented; "It's been a pretty long weekend for us up until now, but I've got to commend Chuck, Paul and the rest of my guys. We all put our heads down and kept at it. We finally have the setup we would've liked to have rolled off the trailer with at the beginning of the weekend - I have a car I'm confident in now ."
Knapp's race would get off to an auspicious beginning as the car had to be taken from the grid to the garage to repair a last minute fuel leak. Knapp and the team worked up a sweat even before the start, as they raced back and forth to the garage. The rest of Knapp's day would be a similar challenge of patience and perseverance.
Required to start on their qualifying tires, the team knew they would be at a disadvantage for the first segment and in fact did have to make an early green flag tire stop, only to see the yellow wave the very next lap. With the right tire combination now on the car, Knapp quickly regained the positions lost at the start.
Knapp and the team's next hurdle would come when a failed fuel pressure diaphragm caused an inaccurate fuel mileage display resulting in another unexpected early stop, this time for fuel. Again, as luck would have it, the yellow would fly one lap later. Knapp would stay out and line up first behind the pace car for the subsequent restart.
As the green flag flew Knapp and the team would once more show their promise. With then race leader Tony Stewart in tow, Knapp would lead Stewart for 8 laps and then race with him for the balance of the extended run. Again, as in each race past, Knapp and the team had shown they could run with the leaders.
Knapp's day soon came to an early end, as luck abandoned them once more, when Marco Greco and Donnie Beechler tangled in turn one. Knapp, appearing to be safely slowing behind the incident, would have a large piece of debris damage the left front corner effectively ending his day.
"I saw Greco get together with Beechler " said a frustrated Knapp after the incident. "As they slid up to the wall I was behind Boesel as he moved low to avoid the incident. Raul had to get on the brakes hard to avoid all the debris. I did everything I could but wasn't able to avoid tapping him in the back causing him to spin. As I went around him a big piece of the debris flew up taking off my left front wheel. I feel terrible for, and apologize to, Raul Boesel and the whole McCormack team - they were having a great run today."
"I'm very upset being caught up in and taken out by yet another incident I wasn't initially involved in. This is the second time in the last two races this has happened to us. The PDM Racing team works as hard as anyone at the track. Although we don't have the budget to test, by race time we always have had one of the best cars at each event. My team and I can not afford to continue to have races like this."
"Although Goodyear had some problems today, our Goodyear tires were great. We were able to put together a setup that let us run fast and keep tires under us. We had no tire problems with our Goodyear tires all day. We knew we had a car that could be a factor at the end of the race"
"In spite of my and my team's challenges and some of the heat related issues with tires, the Indy Racing League put on another fantastic show today. We had over 80,000 fans come out in 100 degree heat and spend a good share of the day on their feet cheering. As a team we've proven that we can run with the leaders. Hopefully at Las Vegas we can avoid the bad luck we've seemed to keep getting caught up in. We're looking forward to Vegas and getting the top finish I know we are truly capable of."