FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 17, 1999 - Mark Dismore captured his first career Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory Sunday at the Mall.com 500, while Greg Ray brought home his first series championship and the Pep Boys Million bonus after finishing ...
FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 17, 1999 - Mark Dismore captured his first career Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory Sunday at the Mall.com 500, while Greg Ray brought home his first series championship and the Pep Boys Million bonus after finishing third.
Dismore finished one lap ahead of Davey Hamilton in the rain-delayed, 208-lap season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. Dismore, who started second, earned $130,500 for the victory in the MCI World Com Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.
It was only the second time in league history that a driver has won by a lap. Davey Hamilton finished second in the Galles Racing Spinal Conquest Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.
"I can't believe it," said Dismore. "I just can't believe it. I'll quit crying eventually, but I just can't believe this."
Ray, from Plano, Texas, overcame damage to the nose of his Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone to win the series championship, 293-256, over runner-up Kenny Brack, who finished 16th.
"To be a part of this team and win a championship here at my home track is a dream come true," Ray said. "I think it takes a lot of time for this to sink in. I'm old enough to know that things like this don't come around very often."
Ray secured the title while leading on Lap 182. Brack - his closest pursuer in the points chase -- was second and closing to within one second of Ray when his A.J. Foyt Racing Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear suddenly slowed on the back straightaway.
1998 season champion Brack limped back to the pits, where his crew needed 23 laps to repair a problem in the rear end of his car.
Ray made his final pit stop on Lap 187, giving the lead to Dismore for good. Dismore was alone on the lead lap during the final caution period from lap 196-206 when Robby Unser hit the outside retaining wall in Turn 2. Dismore cruised to an easy victory on the restart. He led three times for 31 laps overall and averaged 135.246 mph in a race slowed by six caution periods for 78 laps.
Scott Harrington claimed the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year after finishing sixth in the CertainTeed Building Products Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone.
Three drivers - Scott Goodyear, Sam Schmidt and Unser - were transported to area hospitals with injuries suffered in separate accidents. Goodyear reported pain in his left ankle and suffered a possible concussion after hitting the wall while leading on Lap 116. Schmidt suffered a fractured left foot, a fractured toe on his right foot and ankle pain after a collision with Scott Sharp on a restart on Lap 126. Unser was suffering from upper back pain after his accident on Lap 196.
GREG RAY (1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion): "To be a part of this team and win a championship here at my home track is a dream come true. I questioned why we didn't win the championship last year and also the Indy 500 this year. You just have to be patient and work hard and give it your all. You have to make sacrifices to reach a goal. A.J. Foyt is a great guy, and so is Kenny Brack. I guess we were just more consistent this year. It helps to have 70- to 80,000 fans pulling for you like tonight. I really believe we had the car to win tonight." (About goals): "I think it takes a lot of time for this to sink in. Any time you accomplish a goal or dreams come true, like this, it takes awhile to sink in. I'm old enough to know that things like this don't come along very often." (About good-luck picture of his children): "I've had this in my pocket every time I have won a race or a pole. I will probably have it tattooed to my body." (About winning Pep Boys Million as champion): "Thank you. I'll guess I'll say what I've been saying out there. I guess it doesn't get too old. It's truly an honor to be a part of Team Menard with John Menard. To be truly surrounded with successful people, you can't help but be successful. We did have some problems with the motor and other things, and I thought we could have won this race tonight. We gambled and made a call late in the race that didn't turn. The guys worked hard." (About Kenny Brack): "We were able to match his time, but lapped traffic got us bogged down. I didn't want to press the issue. That's why early in the race I let some of the traffic pass by. Like I said, who cares who leads Lap 179 and 180. It's (Lap) 208 that matters. John Menard is good to us, and I'm honored to be a part of this team." (About winning the race or championship): "The championship, of course, is more important than winning one race. It doesn't matter what your game plan is. It is a game of technology and dealing with what is in front of you. We thought we could win the race and the championship here in Texas. We would have liked to have won here in Texas almost as much as Indy. But of course the championship was the focus." (About hole in front nose cone): "Something metal hit the nose. It changed the tow of the car. After that, it pulled hard to the left." (How did long day and rain delay affect your race): "Being in my hometown, it wasn't so bad. I had autograph signings and sponsor obligations that kept me occupied. And that was good. The tough time was between Las Vegas and now because then I could think about it every morning, every afternoon and every evening. I knew, with the state-of-the-art lighting system at this track, that they were going to do everything possible to get the race run today. This is a great place. You pay your electric bill, you flip the switch, and you go race." (Are you part of the Texas legacy of Indy Racing champions, including A.J. Foyt and Johnny Rutherford?): "I'm a Texan, and I'm an Indy-car driver. So I guess I'm in that group. I'm not a Johnny Rutherford or an A.J. Foyt. Those guys are legends. I remember watching Foyt race when I was a kid, which just goes to show how old A.J. is these days." (About expectations for the 1999 season): "We had high expectations and goals. Our goals were to win four races, if we could. And we got five poles, four that counted. We won three races and threatened to win a bunch more. I think we came together as a team."
MARK DISMORE (Race winner): (About emotions of winning, shedding tears of joy): "I felt I needed a windshield on high in my helmet. My dad has prostate cancer, and it's been on my mind. I've been wanting to win for a long time. Not just for that situation, but because I needed a win. My guys gave me a great car tonight, and they did a great job. The problem I had was I could not draft (Greg) Ray, and I needed more rpm down the backstretch. There I could not utilize any power." (About deciding not to quit on his racing career): "It's human nature to say to yourself, but at this point I might as well go for it because I've gotten used to pushing pedals and shifting gears. I knew I could win. We all knew I could win, for a long time now. But when you don't, there is some doubt. The guys made some great decisions tonight to get us to the front. After a pit stop, you had to be careful to make sure that you had the car under you. But at the same time, you knew everyone else was doing that. And that was a good time to take advantage of the situation and try to get some time. It's kind of a bittersweet deal. There's an advantage to be had there, but it can bite you, too. I was pretty aggressive on my out lap after our last pit stop on a green. I was just really trying make up time." (About returning from serious injuries in the early 1990s): "When a guy gets hurt like I got hurt, people think there's a fear in you, and you won't be able to go back and race hard again. Dan Gurney invited me to run at Daytona (Rolex 24). He told me if I wasn't on crutches that I could get in the car. I was on crutches, but I left them in my car and walked in to see him. He let me get into the car so I could find out if what was in me was still there. When I got out of that car, there were tears in my eyes. I knew then that I could still race. You know, when you get hurt, you think maybe it's time to quit. But as soon as the pain gets a little better, you want to start racing again. I'm a pretty motivated guy. But this win today helps my guys and gets them pumped. This was a tough one. I think the others will come easier. I'm really, really looking forward to next year."
DAVEY HAMILTON (Second place): "It was definitely slick, but they did the right thing by putting us single file and giving us some warm-up laps. This Galles Spinal Conquest car was fast from the time we unloaded. We didn't change anything, and we knew we had a shot at winning this race. We got caught up on a yellow-flag stop early on that put us back. Give it to Rick (Galles), he keeps fighting and coming up with different ideas and strategies. We fought all day and had a great car but just came home one shy again. It was good seeing Mark get his first win. I know he has been fighting for it. It was difficult at the beginning of this year. I wasn't even sure I was going to race. There's some tough guys out there who haven't won yet. But we'll get there."
SCOTT HARRINGTON (Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year): "Winning the rookie of the year title is just awesome. We had a great car today, and we weren't just shooting for the rookie of the year title. We wanted to win the race. We gambled once and ran out of fuel. This is a tough group, and you have to try everything to win. We managed to fight our way back up to sixth thanks to some hard work on our crew. (Crew chief) Darrell Soppe is the greatest. He's the best in the business. I'm very lucky to have him on my side. We can 't wait for next season. This is a great way to build some momentum."
*** 1999 PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE TOP 10 POINT STANDINGS (Final): 1. Greg Ray 293 2. Kenny Brack 256 3. Mark Dismore 240 4. Davey Hamilton 237 5. Sam Schmidt 233 6. Buddy Lazier 224 7. Eddie Cheever Jr. 222 8. Scott Sharp 220 9. Scott Goodyear 217 10. Robby Unser 209 ***
*Greg Ray won his first Pep Boys Indy Racing League season championship, good for the Pep Boys Million $1 million bonus. It was the second league title for Team Menard. Tony Stewart won the championship for the team in the 1996-97 season. *Mark Dismore became the fourth first-time winner in 1999, second highest total in league history. The other first-timers this season were Greg Ray, Scott Goodyear and Sam Schmidt. There were seven first-time winners in the 1996-97 season. *Mark Dismore earned his first career Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory in his 30th start, the longest streak between the first career start and first career victory in league history. *Davey Hamilton finished in the top five for the 13th time in his Indy Racing career, a league record. He also extended his record of career top-10 finishes to 22. *Buzz Calkins became the only driver in league history to be running at the finish of every race in the season. He also extended his league-record streak of running at the finish to 12 consecutive races, starting with the last two races of the 1998 season. *Mark Dismore became only the second driver in Pep Boys Indy Racing League history to win a race by one lap. Arie Luyendyk won the 1997 True Value 500 in June 1997 at Texas Motor Speedway by one lap.