IRL: Weekly notes 98-10-19

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 19, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League: PDM helps out, again: Driver Greg Gorden passed his Pep Boys Indy Racing League rookie test Oct. 15-16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway with...

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 19, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League:

PDM helps out, again: Driver Greg Gorden passed his Pep Boys Indy Racing League rookie test Oct. 15-16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway with some help from the league's good Samaritan, PDM Racing.

Gorden earned his Indy Racing League driver's license in the Earl's Performance Products G Force/Aurora/Goodyear fielded by PDM that rookie Steve Knapp drove to a ninth-place finish Oct. 11 in the season-ending Las Vegas 500K.

PDM has provided cars for approximately 40 IRL rookie tests since 1996, team co-owner Chuck Buckman said.

*** Leffler wins USAC title: Treadway Racing test driver Jason Leffler showed again why he is one of the brightest prospects in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, clinching his first USAC Silver Crown national championship in the season finale Oct. 17 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.

Leffler finished fourth in the 100-mile race, winning the season title by 16 points over Brian Tyler, who finished second in the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year standings this year in the Pep Boys IRL. He trailed Tyler by 14 points entering the race.

J.J. Yeley, another Pep Boys IRL rookie in 1998, won the feature. Pep Boys IRL rookie Dave Steele won the pole but ended up 22nd due to a broken fuel injector.

Pep Boys IRL standout Davey Hamilton finished eighth.

It was the second consecutive year in which Leffler, 23, won a USAC national title. He was the midget champion in 1997. Leffler also could add another USAC national midget championship to his resume, as he leads the points this year.

*** Newman's next: Ryan Newman finished third in the USAC Silver Crown season standings with 526 points, earning an Indy Racing League rookie test through a program sponsored by Pennzoil. The champions of the top three USAC divisions - Silver Crown, sprint and midget - each will receive a rookie test in the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear in early December at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Newman, 20, earned the test because the top two drivers in this year's Silver Crown standings, champion Jason Leffler and second-place Brian Tyler, already have their IRL licenses.

*** Ward to take stock in Phoenix: Pep Boys Indy Racing League standout Jeff Ward plans to make his NASCAR Winston Cup debut at the Dura-Lube/Kmart 500 Oct. 25 at Phoenix International Raceway, where he won his first Pep Boys IRL pole in March.

Ward will drive in a car owned by Bill Strauser of Walla Walla, Wash. Ward won the pole for the Dura-Lube 200 Pep Boys IRL race in March at 172.753, a track record.

"I'm looking forward to racing a Winston Cup car in Phoenix," Ward said. "I like the track at Phoenix, and I hope that my experience there enables us to make the race.

"The stock cars and IRL cars are totally different, and I'm going to have to use my natural instincts to make the right adjustment for the stock car. It would be great to start my first NASCAR race at Phoenix after sitting on the pole for the IRL race in March."

Ward's attempt at stock-car racing adds to his growing resume as one of the more versatile racers in America. He won seven AMA national motocross championships before moving to auto racing in 1992.

He finished third in the 1997 Indianapolis 500, earning Bank One Rookie of the Year honors. Ward, from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., finished sixth in the Pep Boys IRL point standings this season, driving the Thermo Tech-Prolong-Superflo G Force/Aurora/Goodyear for ISM Racing.

*** Teeing off for charity: Approximately 125 golfers raised approximately $10,000 for two charities Oct. 12 during the IRL-CAM Phil Casey Golf Tournament at Stallion Mountain Country Club in Las Vegas.

The winning team was comprised of 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr., legendary Los Angeles Times motorsports writer Shav Glick, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Vice President of Marketing and Sales John Newcomb, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Director of Sales Buddy McAtee and Las Vegas Motor Speedway executive Jack Long.

All proceeds were donated to Valley Children's Hospital in Fresno, Calif., which specializes in treating juvenile diabetes, and the Ronald McDonald House, said IRL Technical Director Phil Casey, tournament organizer. This year's proceeds were a tournament record, Casey said.

This was the eighth charity tournament staged by Casey. This year's turnout was more than twice as large as last year.

Other Pep Boys IRL drivers participating included Steve Knapp, Davey Hamilton and Stephan Gregoire. Billy Boat was registered to play but was forced to withdraw due to a foot injury suffered in the Las Vegas 500K on Oct. 11, Casey said.

*** Easy riders: Pep Boys IRL standout Davey Hamilton and Nienhouse Motorsports team manager Jamie Galles will start a 1,000-mile motorcycle trip from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico from Oct. 19-23. Cabo San Lucas is at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula.

Hamilton and Galles are riding on the same course that will be used for the Baja 1000 race. Galles competed in the 1995 Baja 1000 in a buggy.

Six people will ride with Hamilton and Galles. Two chase trucks will provide support. Hamilton, Galles and their friends will rough it on the trip, sleeping outside on the ground in the desert.

Hamilton finished second this season in the Pep Boys IRL point standings in the Reebok-Nienhouse Motorsports Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.

*** Wedding bells: A handful of Pep Boys Indy Racing League crew members are taking advantage of the brief offseason to get married.

Three members of A.J. Foyt Enterprises are hearing wedding bells in the next six weeks. Team manager Tommy LaMance was married Oct. 17. Bill Davis, a tire specialist and transporter driver for Kenny Brack, will be married Oct. 24. Mark Lubin, a mechanic on Billy Boat's car, will be married Nov. 27.

Two members of ISM Racing are taking the marital plunge. Chief mechanic Gary Armentrout was married Oct. 13 at Lake Tahoe. Team coordinator Dirk Van Horn is getting married Nov. 7 in Terre Haute, Ind.

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jason Leffler , Ryan Newman , Eddie Cheever , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Billy Boat , Kenny Brack , Steve Knapp , J.J. Yeley , Dave Steele , Brian Tyler , A.J. Foyt
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises