Formula One
 Monday, October 16
Goodyear wins Excite 500, Lazier claims title
 Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Buddy Lazier wasn't content with doing just enough to win the IRL season championship.

Needing only to finish 14th or better in the season-ending Excite 500 win the Northern Light Cup season title and $1 million, Lazier did much more Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Lazier finished fourth, seventh-tenths of a second behind winner Scott Goodyear in the fastest race in IRL history. Lazier led for 38 consecutive laps near the end of the race and ran with the lead pack the entire 208 laps.

"At a couple of points out there, I thought Buddy was nuts. Buddy was aggressive," said Goodyear, who beat Eddie Cheever Jr. by a car length -- 0.14 seconds -- to win the race.

"My strategy was to do exactly the same thing I've done all ear, but not do anything stupid," Lazier said. "We didn't want to lay back, all of a sudden have 26 cars finish and be out of the top 14."

The average winning speed was 175.276 mph, breaking the IRL record of 169.182 set by Scott Sharp at Texas on June 11 when he beat Robby McGehee by just 0.059 seconds -- still the closest finish on the 5-year-old circuit.

In his last race for Penzoil Panther Racing, Goodyear won for the first time this season and the third time in his career. He also won at the 1.5-mile quad oval at Texas in the first of two 1999 races.

Lazier was the only driver to win more than once in the IRL this season. He won The Belterra Resort Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway and the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 at Phoenix, and had seven top-10 finishes in the nine races.

He took over the lead at Texas on the 157th lap when he decided not to pit with everyone else during a caution. He stayed in the lead until he had to make a final stop alone for fuel on the fourth and final caution at the end of lap 194.

Cheever regained the lead coming out of that fourth and final caution. Cheever was in front and raced side-by-side with Goodyear, who went ahead for good when he went high around Cheever in the first turn with two laps to go.

"We tried everything. We went high, we went low. It was really wheel to wheel. We kept working him," said Goodyear, separated from Cheever by only inches for several stretches in the final laps.

While Goodyear isn't sure if he will run the full 13-race IRL schedule next year, Cheever has extended an offer for him to join Team Cheever.

"Scott is a phenomenal driver, and he has a great ability to stay out of trouble and be there at the end," Cheever said. "I have made him an offer to join us. But he wasn't thinking about that today, or he would have stayed behind me."

Billy Boat, who won at Texas in 1998, finished third between Goodyear, Cheever and Lazier -- the only three drivers who went into the finale with a chance to win the season title.

There were 16 lead changes among eight drivers. Al Unser Jr. led a race-high 99 laps but finished 17th, knocked out after 155 laps by gearbox failure.

Pole-sitter Greg Ray, the 1999 IRL champion, completed just 19 laps and finished next-to-last in the 27-car field. After blowing an engine in practice Saturday, he began the race with a bad cylinder, quickly dropped to 13th and was lapped by Unser on the 14th lap.

McGehee was knocked out of the race because of an electrical failure after just 62 laps. Sharp was running fifth until his engine stalled coming out of the pits during the third caution, and dropped to 13th.

  • Flags at Texas Motor Speedway flew at half-staff and a moment of silence was held prior to the race for the 17 U.S. sailors killed in the attack of the USS Cole and for NASCAR trucks driver Scott Roper, who died as the result of a severe neck injury suffered at the track Friday night.

  • Sam Hornish Jr., will replace Goodyear as the driver for Pennzoil Panther racing next season, the team announced before the race. Goodyear hasn't decided if he wants to run a full IRL schedule next year.
  • Airton Dare' finished 12th and was the IRL rookie of the year.


    Excite 500 results

     Buddy Lazier joins ESPN's John Kernan to talk about winning the IRL Series championship.
    RealVideo: 28.8

     Newly crowned IRL Champion Buddy Lazier stops to chat with ESPN's Marlo Klain.
    RealVideo: 28.8

     ESPN's Marlo Klain talks with the Excite 500 winner Scott Goodyear.
    RealVideo: 28.8

     Scott Goodyear takes the checkered flag at the Excite 500. (Courtesy: ABC Sports)
    avi: 1724 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     With 38 laps to go in the race, Bubby Lazier clinches the IRL championship. (Courtesy: ABC Sports)
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    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Scott Goodyear finishes his stay with the Pennzoil racing team with a win.
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    RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

     Bubby Lazier talks about winning the 2000 IRL championship.
    wav: 595 k
    RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

     After a running a strong race for most of the day, Al Unser Jr. just could not finish.
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    RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6