Race: True Value 500

Track: Texas Motor Speedway

Date: Saturday, June 6, 1998

Start time: 8:12 PM CDT

Weather: Warm and humid

Serial: #4 of 11 in 1998 season

History: IRL race #2, Indycar race #2 at this track

Config: 1.5-mile, quad-oval, high banked

Wing package: Speedway


One year after apparently winning the True Value 500, only to have the win taken away after a scoring recount, Billy Boat won it again -- and this time he got to keep the trophy. The race was the first IRL event run on the newly reconfigured Texas track, which had undergone changes to the corner banking (eliminating the 8-degree portions which were originally intended to be the racing surface for Indycar events) and the transitions out of the corners, particularly turn 4, plus a complete repaving and drainage work. (The changes were made after vehement protests by NASCAR drivers during an event the previous April.) The new configuration proved to be extremely fast; Tony Stewart broke the IRL new car qualifying record, and ran laps as fast as 228 MPH during the race, believed to be the fastest laps ever turned on a closed course by a car with a normally aspirated engine.

The only sour note of the weekend was the short field; 32 grid slots were available but only 28 took the green flag, as several teams had spent all their funds at Indy. (Also, Team Scandia in a stunning announcement had closed their IRL shop after Indy and taken their promising young driver Jimmy Kite to NASCAR.) All 28 started on their qualifying times and no provisional were used. The start was confused as Sam Schmidt didn't come up to speed due to an electronics problem and Billy Roe spun through the quad-oval grass at the green flag. This was cleaned up, but only a few green flag laps were registered until Roberto Guerrero spun in front of the pack coming out of turn 2; rookie Donnie Beechler ran hard into the back of Stephan Gregoire's car, triggering a six-car accident that eliminated Eddie Cheever (fresh off of his Indy 500 victory) and resulted in Beechler sliding upside down the length of the back stretch. Fortunately, no one was hurt (Cheever spent the rest of the evening doing television commentary), but five cars were out and J.J. Yeley had a long pit stop for extensive repairs including a gearbox change. (Yeley had joined his teammate Jack Miller in running the newest Infiniti engine for this race; both drivers practiced much faster than they qualified, but the race results were inconclusive.) Stewart had to pit for a cut tire after running through debris, handing the lead to Arie Luyendyk. The Flying Dutchman lead briefly after the green before being overhauled by Boat on lap 22, while Stewart worked his way up from the rear. By lap 34, when a caution flew for Eliseo Salazar's blown engine, the running order was Boat, Luyendyk, Stewart, and Mark Dismore. Luyendyk took a gamble by not pitting during the caution; it backfired when he had to pit under green on lap 59 and lost two laps which he never made up. Dismore had something in the rear of the car break on lap 72 which put him hard into the turn 1 wall; he had to go to the hospital with a concussion, which fortunately was not too serious. Under the subsequent caution, Stewart had to make an extra pit stop for a suspected tire problem and went to the rear again. On the restart, Scott Goodyear got the jump on Boat and took the lead; the two then had a good dice until Boat retook the lead five laps later. Meanwhile, Greg Ray had worked himself into contention. By halfway, Boat, Stewart, and Ray were running nose-to-tail and attempting slingshots nearly everywhere on the track. When Stewart took the lead on lap 121, Boat pitted; Stewart and Ray then pitted, handing the lead briefly to Jeff Ward. With the race remaining green and the lead cars running very closely, the crowd was buzzing in anticipation of a good finish.

As a caution flew on lap 144, Boat banged wheels with Yeley. The contact left a large "doughnut" on Boat's left sidepod, and there was concern about whether the very atypical incident for an Indycar would put Boat out. But he continued with no apparent problems. Stewart jumped Boat on the restart and the two went at it, while Ray, Goodyear, Ward, and Kenny Brack diced for third. While Stewart and Boat went at it for the lead, Brack took third on lap 163 only to lose it to Ray on the next lap. Unfortunately for Ward, his race ended four laps later with engine failure -- a DNF that would turn out to cost him the IRL points lead. The fast-paced race got wilder when Stewart had his left sidepod radiator rupture streaked down the front stretch on lap 177, spewing water all over the front stretch. Amazingly, no accident resulted and Stewart made it back to the pits; his crew tried to replace the faulty radiator but they ran out of time. Boat then begin to stretch out his lead over Ray, but on lap 196 he got caught in traffic and Ray begin to close the gap. On lap 200, the Texas native caught Boat and then made a breathtaking move through the grass in the quad-oval (reminiscient of Buddy Lazier at Charlotte the previous year); as they went down the back stretch Ray split the lapped car of Buzz Calkins and swept into the lead. But on the next lap, Boat used the slingshot to retake the lead; Ray tried for the next six laps but couldn't overcome Boat's superior engine, and Billy Boat took his first IRL win. For the top three (Boat, Ray, and Brack), it was their best IRL career finishes. Scott Sharp ran a quiet race to finish fifth and move into a tie with Stewart in the points standings.

Fin St  Qual  Car  C/E/T    Driver            Entrant  Laps     Status  Laps Pts
        Spd    #                                                         Led
 1  2  223.547 11  D/A/G Billy Boat          Foyt       208     Running  108  54
 2 14  217.278 97  D/A/F Greg Ray            Knapp      208     Running    1  40
 3 11  218.349 14  D/A/G Kenny Brack         Foyt       208     Running       35
 4  7  219.468  4  G/A/G Scott Goodyear      Panther    208     Running    4  32
 5  9  218.765  8  D/A/G Scott Sharp         Kelley     208     Running       30
 6  3  223.104  3  D/A/F Robbie Buhl         Menard     207     Running       29
 7 15  216.989  6  G/A/G Davey Hamilton      Nienhouse  207     Running       26
 8  5  219.736 16  G/A/F Marco Greco         Phoenix    205     Running       24
 9 27  212.909 52  D/A/G Robby Unser         Cheever    204     Running       22
10 26  213.228 19  R/A/G Stan Wattles        Metro      198     Running       20
11 23  214.447 91  D/A/G Buddy Lazier        Hemelgarn  194 Wheel Brng.       19
12 28  211.989 81  D/A/F Tyce Carlson        Pelphrey   191     Running       18
13  4  221.166  5  G/A/F Arie Luyendyk       Treadway   178     Running   29  17
14  1  224.448  1  D/A/F Tony Stewart        Menard     176    Radiator   57  19
15 10  218.508 12  G/A/G Buzz Calkins        Bradley    172     Running       15
16 12  218.314 10  G/A/F John Paul Jr.       Byrd-C'Ham 169     Running       14
17 13  217.540 35  G/A/G Jeff Ward           ISM        165      Engine    2  13
18 24  214.192 99  D/A/F Sam Schmidt         LP         163     Running       12
19 22  214.814 45  D/I/F J. J. Yeley         Sinden     162     Running       11
20 25  214.099 27  D/A/F Billy Roe           Blueprint  108     Running       10
21  6  219.601 28  D/A/G Mark Dismore        Kelley      70    Crash T1        9
22 21  214.831 40  D/I/F Jack Miller         Sinden      38      Engine        8
23 18  216.416 15  R/A/G Eliseo Salazar      R&S         32      Engine        7 
24  8  219.289 21  D/A/G Roberto Guerrero    Pagan        4    Crash BS        6
25 16  216.615 77  G/A/G Stephan Gregoire    Chastain     4    Crash BS        5
26 20  214.985 51  D/A/G Eddie Cheever       Cheever      4    Crash BS        4
27 17  216.485 98  G/A/F Donnie Beechler     Cahill       4    Crash BS        3
28 19  215.251 30  G/A/G Raul Boesel         McCormack    4    Crash BS        2

Time of race: 02:08:46
Average speed: 145.388 MPH
Margin of victory: 0.928 sec

Laps under green: 163 of 208 laps (78.4%)
Caution flags: 6 for 45 laps (21.6%)
#1: lap 1, spin (Roe), FS, 2 laps
#2: lap 5, crash (Beechler, Boesel, Cheever, Gregoire, Guerrero, Miller, Yeley), BS, 13 laps
#3: lap 33, blown engine (Salazar), T2, 11 laps
#4: lap 71, crash (Dismore), T1, 10 laps
#5: lap 143, debris, BS, 5 laps
#6: lap 176, water leak (Stewart), FS, 4 laps

Red flags: 0 for 0 minutes

Lead changes: 21; number of race leaders: 6
St: Stewart 1-7
#1: Luyendyk 8-21
#2: Boat 22-34
#3: Luyendyk 35-49
#4: Stewart 50-72
#5: Boat 73
#6: Stewart 74
#7: Boat 75-81
#8: Goodnear 82-86
#9: Boat 87-120
#10: Stewart 121-122
#11: Ward 123-124
#12: Stewart 125-140
#13: Boat 141-147
#14: Stewart 148-154
#15: Boat 155-157
#16: Stewart 158
#17: Boat 159-167
#18: Goodyear 168-173
#19: Boat 174-200
#20: Ray 201
#21: Boat 202-208

C/E/T finish averages (# started / avg finish):
Dallara: 16 / 13.3
G-Force: 10 / 16.0
Riley & Scott: 2 / 16.5
Aurora: 26 / 14.0
Infiniti: 2 / 20.5
Firestone: 12 / 14.8
Goodyear: 16 / 14.3