Stewart Wins Pep Boys WDW 200

24 January 1998

Lake Buena Vista, FL

Tony Stewart showed the rest of  the field why he was last year's champion.
Driving to a smart and  convincing victory in the Pep Boys WDW 200,  
Stewart displayed the patience of a seasoned veteran. Stewart led the 
most laps in this caution-filled opener in the IRL season.
Stewart's competition during the 200 lap race was first Roberto Guerrero,
then Buddy Lazier, and then finally Mark Dismore who had stayed in the 
top five most of the day. Jeff Ward was second, Davey Hamilton was third. 
Stefan Gregoire took fourth. Mark Dismore was fifth.

Perhaps  the most interesting story to come out of the race was the
Stewart/Dismore battle.  Friends and competitiors from early on in life, 
Dismore was an influence in Stewart's driving career. With both knowing 
each other's driving style the two drivers battled during the last laps.
Stewart finally passed for the lead on lap 195. Dismore's challenge to
retake the lead never materialized when Dismore ran out of fuel on 
lap 197. Stewart commented that "it was hard to get around him [Dismore]."
Stewart further commmented "that his car had a push in turn three but was 
fantastic in turns 1 and 2. I was watching Mark's car in the corners
looking for the right moment to pass. When asked about driving at 
"The Mickyard" Stewart said "this place is really special to me. I ran 
my first race here in '96. I came back the second year and had an oil leak
that year. I needed to win this one bad."

The other battle that Stewart encountered was with Buddy Lazier. The 
two had stayed within sight of each other during most of the race. 
Lazier, taking  advantage of slower traffic ducked inside of Stewart
on lap 138 to assume the lead. Lazier appeared to have things going
his way until he apparently lost the back-end of the car from
aerodynamic effect and spun his car.  With Lazier out of the race 
Stewart began to take control of the race until he had to pit for fuel
with 22 laps left. Dismore inherited the lead from Stewart when his team
decided to gamble on the fuel window. The gamble came up 3 laps short.

A ragged start to the race was magnified with a caution flag for a spin by
Robbie Groff on the front straight on the first lap. With the restart 
Roberto Geurrero, who had started in fourth place, had worked his way 
into second place on the second lap. Guerrero swept into the lead on the
restart on lap 7 and held that position until Salazar spun causing Marco
Greco to swerve into Guerrero's path. The ensuing melee took Guerrero 
and Greco out of the race.  Guerrero led laps 7-13 until the accident. 
Once again, Stewart as he would do all day, assumed the lead from
another competitor. Maybe just like the IRL, Tony Stewart showed that his
driving style, while not conservative, is a patient one.

Top Ten Results
Pos	Driver		Laps	Chassis		Engine	Tire
1	Tony Stewart	200	G-Force		Aurora	Firestone
2	Jeff Ward	200	G-Force		Aurora	Goodyear
3	Davey Hamilto	200	G-Force		Aurora	Goodyear
4	Stephan Gregoi	200	G-Force		Aurora  Goodyear
5	Mark Dismore	199	Dallara		Aurora	Goodyear
6	Scott Sharp	198	Dallara		Aurora	Goodyear
7	Mike Groff	198	G-Force		Aurora	Firestone
8	Arie Luyendyk	197	G-Force		Aurora	Firestone
9	Sam Schmidt	195	Dallara		Aurora	Firestone
10	John Paul, Jr.	194	G-Force		Aurora	Firestone

David Treffer -- The Auto Channel

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