IRL: WDW race report 98-01-24

STEWART OPENS DEFENSE OF IRL TITLE WITH VICTORY AT INDY 200 LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 24, 1998 - Defending series champion Tony Stewart passed a gambling Mark Dismore with five laps remaining Saturday to win the Indy 200 at Walt...

STEWART OPENS DEFENSE OF IRL TITLE WITH VICTORY AT INDY 200

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 24, 1998 - Defending series champion Tony Stewart passed a gambling Mark Dismore with five laps remaining Saturday to win the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway Presented by Aurora, the season opener for the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. Stewart stalked Dismore for 26 laps before driving his Menard/Glidden G Force/Aurora under Dismore in Turn 1 of lap 196 on the 1-mile tri-oval. Dismore inherited the lead on lap 169 of the 200-lap event when leader Buddy Lazier and Stewart pitted for fuel and tires. Dismore gambled, hoping he could stretch his fuel mileage until the end of the race. Polesitter Stewart pulled away from Dismore, who finished fifth after a late pit stop for fuel. Stewart earned his second career IRL victory by 8.579 seconds over Jeff Ward. Davey Hamilton finished third. Stewart averaged 95.14 mph in a race slowed by 10 caution periods. "Our car was really good in turn one and two, so I just worked on timing to try and get him," Stewart said. "I just kept looking for lapped cars and thinking this might be the one. I could write a book about all the close calls I had today." Stewart, who earned $121,250, led five times for 132 laps. But it appeared that Lazier might have the superior car when he passed Stewart on lap 132. Lazier led by nearly a second on lap 165 when he crashed in turn one. "I was just coming up on a lapped car, and it took the air off the wing," Lazier said. "I got halfway out, then I put the fuel back on, and I couldn't catch it." Before the emergency crew reached him Lazier apologised to his crew saying, "I'm really sorry, Guys, we had a great race car today." Four cars were on the lead lap at the finish, and 15 of the 28 starters were running. Defending event champion Eddie Cheever Jr. finished 24th after an engine fire eliminated him after 48 laps. Cheever was unhurt. Dismore said he would "lose the front end severely whenever ge was in traffic--"the downforce would go away by at least 50%." Commenting on winner Tony Stewart who praised Dismore in victory circle by saying all he knew about driving he learned from the age of ten racing under Dismore in karts, Dismore said "Tony's being very generous but Tony is God's gift to a steering wheel. We raced karts with and against one another twenty years ago. He's a Doogie Houser kind of guy and his talent has found him a lot of open doors at a very early age One of the media suggested to Tony that he was driving 'conservative'. Tony snapped back "I'd like to strap you to the side of that thing and let you see if I was driving conservative". Both second place Jeff Ward and third place Davey Hamilton said, "I never saw Tony all day." Steward said that Walt Disney World Speedway meant a lot to him because it was here he go his first big break in championship car racing with John Menard. In a statement no one fully understood Stewart said "John only owns that car when it's sitting still. When its rolling it's mine!" The next Pep Boys Indy Racing League event is March 22 at Phoenix International Raceway.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Mark Dismore