1998 Indianapolis 500

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82nd Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyIndy Racing League
Season1998 IRL season
DateMay 24, 1998
WinnerEddie Cheever
Winning teamTeam Cheever
Average speed145.155 mph (234 km/h)
Pole positionBilly Boat
Pole speed223.503 mph (360 km/h)
Fastest qualifierBoat
Rookie of the YearSteve Knapp
Most laps ledEddie Cheever (76)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemElizabeth Burch
"Back Home Again in Indiana"Jim Nabors
Starting commandMari Hulman George
Pace carChevrolet Corvette
Pace car driverParnelli Jones
StarterBryan Howard
Honorary starterMark Page (Pep Boys)
Estimated attendance250,000
TV in the United States
NetworkABC
AnnouncersPaul Page, Tom Sneva
Nielsen ratings6.0 / 19
Chronology
Previous Next
1997 1999

The 82nd Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Sunday, May 24, 1998. This was the third Indianapolis 500 run as part of the Indy Racing League, but the first fully-sanctioned by the IRL after they relied on USAC to sanction the 1996–1997 races. The race was part of the 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season.

Eddie Cheever, a former Formula One driver that had competed in Indy car racing since 1990, highlighted his racing career with this lone Indianapolis win. Cheever finished three seconds ahead of second place Buddy Lazier, the 1996 winner. Cheever became the first owner/driver to win the "500" since A. J. Foyt in 1977. The 1998 race ushered in a compacted, two-week schedule for the Indy 500, omitting an entire week of practice, and trimming qualifying from four days down to two.

During time trials, Billy Boat secured the first pole position at Indy for the Foyt team since 1975.

This was the first Indianapolis victory for the Dallara chassis. In the second year utilizing the 4.0 L, normally aspirated, 32-valve production-based engines (Aurora L47 and Infiniti VH), qualifying speeds climbed, topping out nearly six miles per hour faster than 1997.

Schedule[edit]

Race schedule — April, 1998
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
12
 
13
 
14
ROP
15
ROP
16
Open Test
17
Open Test
18
 
Race schedule — May, 1998

 

 

 

 

 
1
 
2
Mini-Marathon
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
Opening Day
11
Practice
12
Practice
13
Practice
14
Practice
15
Practice
16
Pole Day
17
Bump Day
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
Carb Day
22
 
23
Parade
24
Indy 500
25
Memorial Day
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Color Notes
Green Practice
Dark Blue Time trials
Silver Race day
Red Rained out*
Blank No track activity

* Includes days where track
activity was significantly
limited due to rain

ROP — denotes Rookie
Orientation Program

Background[edit]

Continuing split from CART[edit]

The ongoing IRL/CART split continued into its third year. The two series began moving further apart, and for the second time, no major teams from the CART ranks entered at Indianapolis. CART teams raced on Saturday at the Motorola 300.

Rule changes[edit]

  • After controversy in 1997, the "25/8 Rule", which locked in entries to the starting field based on championship points standings, was scrapped for 1998. The 33-car field would revert to the traditional 33 fastest qualifiers.
  • For 1998, the schedule for the month of May was trimmed down, in an effort to reduce costs. An experimental "two-week" schedule was proposed, consisting of one full week of practice, and two days of time trials. An open test was scheduled in April which also included rookie orientation.
  • During qualifying, once the field is filled to 33, cars that subsequently bump their way into the field on the second day of time trials (Bump Day) will at that moment be (tentatively) slotted in the 33rd starting position, regardless of their overall speed rank on the second day. Previously cars that bumped their way into the field lined up based on speed rank of the day they qualified. The change was made to encourage more cars qualifying on pole day. As a result, the field was lined up the order of: first day (pole day) qualifiers, followed by second day qualifiers (those that qualified before the field was filled to 33), followed by cars that bumped their way into the field on the second day.[1]
  • A new rule change for 1998 allowed cars to return to the garage area to make repairs and subsequently re-enter the race. Previously, all repairs (whether major or minor) had to be done in the pit area only. Prior to 1998, any car that crossed the entrance to Gasoline Alley was ruled out of the race, regardless of its condition. Likewise, any stalled car towed back to the garage area through escape roads in the infield (instead of around the circuit itself) was ruled out of the race, even if the issue was something as harmless as running out of fuel (that aspect of the rule was the source of controversy in the 1972 race with Jim Hurtubise). The repair rule change was made at the request of teams, which considered it a safety measure, as well as a fair way to allow more cars to finish the race. Pit crew members working for extended periods of time on the actual pit lane felt exposed to injuries/accidents from other cars entering and exiting the pits literally inches away. It also allowed them access to necessary tools and allowed them to make major repairs. This new rule was similar in practice to the policy that NASCAR had, where cars were allowed to "go behind the wall" to make repairs and re-enter the competition. A limit was enforced, however, such that no car could make repairs and re-enter the race after the leaders completed 190 laps.

Entry list[edit]

The first entry list was published on April 14. The 34 cars that had run in any of the first two rounds of 1998 were entered, including the #27 Blueprint Racing entry, initially unassigned after Robbie Groff failed to complete a racing lap. The car was initially scheduled to be run by Cary Faas at the Rookie Orientation Program, but the test never happened. RSM Marko also failed to undertake his scheduled Rookie Orientation Program test with driver Dave Steele, and the team would not appear afterwards, while Team Coulson Racing never appointed a driver for the #41 car.

Earlier in the month, D. B. Mann Motorsports had named Dan Drinan in the #24 car driven by Billy Roe at Orlando. Two cars had driver changes before the start of practice due to budgetary issues: Chitwood Motorsports signed Andy Michner in the #17 car the day before ROP in place of Brian Tyler, both passing their tests with the team, and PDM Racing replaced John Paul Jr. on May 5 with rookie Jack Hewitt, who had passed all but one of his rookie test phases in Jack Miller's Sinden Racing entry on April. Finally, Blueprint announced during Opening Day that the #27 seat would go to second-year driver Claude Bourbonnais.

Before the start of practice, eight further car/driver combinations were registered, pushing the total to 40 competitors. Team Scandia announced the signing of Billy Roe for a second car in late March, both Robby Unser and Steve Knapp were announced for additional entries by Team Cheever and ISM Racing on April 9, and Donnie Beechler was confirmed a day later for a new team, Cahill Auto Racing. At the release of the entry list, Lyn St. James confirmed her programme as a driver/owner, while LP Racing entered a second car for Scott Harrington. In the final week leading to practice, Joe Gosek was signed by new outfit Liberty Racing, and veteran Danny Ongais received a call-up before Opening Day to drive for yet another new team, Pelfrey, which had been denied a request to field Shawn Bayliff due to a lack of experience.

No. Driver Team Chassis Engine Tires
1 United States Tony Stewart Team Menard Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
3 United States Robbie Buhl Team Menard Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
4 Canada Scott Goodyear Panther Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk  W  Treadway Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Firestone
6 United States Davey Hamilton Nienhouse Motorsports G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
7 United States Jimmy Kite  R  Team Scandia Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
8 United States Scott Sharp Kelley Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
9 United States Johnny Unser1 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
10 United States Mike Groff2 Byrd-Cunningham Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Firestone
11 United States Billy Boat A. J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
12 United States Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
14 Sweden Kenny Bräck A. J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
15 Chile Eliseo Salazar3 Riley & Scott Cars Riley & Scott Oldsmobile Goodyear
16 Brazil Marco Greco Phoenix Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Firestone
17 United States Andy Michner  R  Chitwood Motorsports Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
18 United States Jack Hewitt  R  PDM Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
19 United States Stan Wattles  R  Metro Racing Systems Riley & Scott Oldsmobile Goodyear
20 United States Tyce Carlson Immke Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero Pagan Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
22 (absent)4 RSM Marko Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
23 United States Paul Durant CBR Cobb Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
24 United States Dan Drinan  R  D. B. Mann Motorsports Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
27 Canada Claude Bourbonnais Blueprint Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
28 United States Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
29 United States Joe Gosek Liberty Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Firestone
30 Brazil Raul Boesel McCormack Motorsports G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
33 United States Billy Roe Team Scandia Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
35 United States Jeff Ward ISM Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
40 United States Jack Miller Sinden Racing Services Dallara Infiniti Firestone
41 (absent)4 Team Coulson Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Firestone
44 United States J. J. Yeley  R  Sinden Racing Services Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
51 United States Eddie Cheever Team Cheever Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
52 United States Robby Unser  R  Team Cheever Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
53 United States Jim Guthrie ISM Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
54 Japan Hideshi Matsuda5 Beck Motorsports Dallara Infiniti Firestone
55 United States Steve Knapp  R  ISM Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
66 United States Scott Harrington LP Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
68 (absent)6 CBR Cobb Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
77 France Stéphan Grégoire Chastain Motorsports G-Force Oldsmobile Goodyear
81 United States John Paul Jr.7 Team Pelfrey Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
90 United States Lyn St. James Lyn St. James Racing G-Force Infiniti Goodyear
91 United States Buddy Lazier  W  Hemelgarn Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Goodyear
97 United States Greg Ray Knapp Motorsports Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
98 United States Donnie Beechler  R  Cahill Auto Racing G-Force Oldsmobile Firestone
99 United States Sam Schmidt LP Racing Dallara Oldsmobile Firestone
  •  W  Former winner
  •  R  Indy 500 Rookie
  1. ^ Entered on May 11.
  2. ^ United States Brian Tyler  R  took laps in the spare car on Bump Day while Groff hadn't qualified yet for the race.
  3. ^ Switched to the #19 spare car on Bump Day after being bumped from the field.
  4. ^ The car was entered without a driver, and never took part in practice.
  5. ^ Entered on May 14.
  6. ^ Jaques Lazier was entered, but claimed he didn't have a program in place, and neither he or the car took part in practice.
  7. ^ Entered on May 14. United States Danny Ongais, the entry's original driver, was injured in a crash on May 11.

Practice[edit]

Sunday May 10[edit]

Opening day saw Mike Groff take the honor of "first car on the track." Crashes during the day were suffered by Jack Hewitt and Jimmy Kite, neither were serious. Robbie Buhl was the fastest car of the day, at 219.325 mph.

Monday May 11[edit]

Tony Stewart led the speed chart, with a lap of 223.703 mph. It was the fastest lap since the normally aspirated engine formula was adopted in 1997. Eight drivers in total broke the 200 mph barrier.

Danny Ongais suffered the most serious crash thus far for the month, and was sidelined with a concussion. Arie Luyendyk, Mike Groff, Raul Boesel and Tony Stewart all suffered mechanical problems, and required tows back to the garage area.

Off the track, Eddie Cheever announced a sponsorship deal with Rachel's Gourmet Potato Chips.

Tuesday May 12[edit]

Tony Stewart nearly matched his speed from a day before, with a fast lap of 223.691 mph. Second best Kenny Bräck was a full 2 mph slower at 221.593 mph.

Sunny skies, with temperatures in the 70s greeted the Speedway for the third day in a row.

Wednesday May 13[edit]

Moisture from an overnight shower delayed the start of practice for about a half-hour. Billy Boat took the honors for fastest of the day at 221.691 mph, while Tony Stewart sat out the day. Temperatures topped out at 80 degrees late in the day.

Thursday May 14[edit]

Jimmy Kite suffered his second wall contact of the week, backing the car into the wall in turn 4. Another warm, 83 degree afternoon saw Tony Stewart once again on top of the speed chart (223.430 mph).

"Fast" Friday May 15[edit]

The final day of practice before pole day was warm, with a high of 81 degrees. Tony Stewart topped the speed chart with the fastest lap of the month (223.797 mph). Kenny Bräck and Billy Boat were also over 221 mph.

Boat, however, wrecked his primary car in turn 3 shortly after the 11 a.m. start. Also spinning in a separate incident (but not making contact) was Jack Hewitt.

At the close of practice, Tony Stewart entered time trials as the favorite for the pole position. Stewart led the speed chart on four of the six days of practice (sitting out one day). Foyt drivers Kenny Bräck and Billy Boat were also front row favorites, however, Boat's crash on Friday seemed to dim his chances.

Time trials[edit]

Pole Day – Saturday May 16[edit]

Pole day dawned sunny and clear, with temperatures in the high 70s. Qualifying started on-time promptly at 11 a.m., but saw two early wave-offs. The first two notable runs were put in by Robbie Buhl (220.236 mph) and Tony Stewart (220.386 mph), but the speeds were down from their expectations.

At noon, Kenny Bräck took over the provisional pole with a run of 220.982 mph. Minutes later, Jimmy Kite crashed for the third time of the week. At 12:45 p.m., Billy Boat took to the track for his run. His first lap was a remarkable 224.573 mph, the fastest lap of the month. The three other laps dropped off, but his four-lap average of 223.503 mph was fast enough to secure the pole position.

Sixteen cars completed runs before the mid-afternoon down time. Around 4:15 p.m., qualifying resumed, with drivers Scott Sharp and Eddie Cheever among those making the field. At 5:15 p.m., Greg Ray squeezed onto the front row, as the second-fastest qualifier (221.125 mph).

At the end of the day, the field was filled to 26 cars, after a record 42 qualifying attempts. Among the notables not yet in the field were Arie Luyendyk, Lyn St. James, and Jeff Ward. Luyendyk suffered through engine trouble most of the day.

Billy Boat's unexpected speed in qualifying drew the attention of competitors, given that it occurred in the heat of the day, and it was 2+12 miles per hour faster than he had run all week. Team Menard threatened to protest, and accused Foyt Racing of cheating by illegally using nitrous.[2][3] The Indy Racing League took no action, and Boat was not penalized.

Bump Day – Sunday May 17[edit]

With seven positions remaining in the field, the second and final day of time trials saw heavy activity. In the first hour, veterans Raul Boesel, Arie Luyendyk and Jeff Ward were among the early qualifiers. Scott Harrington, however, blew an engine and wrecked on his second lap, which put a halt to qualifying for nearly 45 minutes.

In the heat of the day (1:52 p.m.), Eliseo Salazar completed a run at 216.259 mph, the second-slowest in the field. His run was followed by a long down-time, as teams waited for optimum conditions.

At 4:30 p.m., qualifying resumed, and several cars took to the track. During the next hour, 13 attempts were made, but only 5 were run to completion. After three wrecks for the week, Jimmy Kite found the needed speed, and managed to fill the field to 33 cars at 4:55 p.m. With Billy Roe (215.781 mph) the first driver on the bubble, Mike Groff bumped him out at 5:23 p.m. That put Eliseo Salazar (216.259 mph) on the bubble. Minutes later, Roe went back out and bumped his way back into the field. The move placed Johnny Unser (216.316 mph) now on the bubble.

Claude Bourbonnais, Dan Drinan, and Lyn St. James all fell short of Johnny Unser's speed, and failed to bump him out. With four minutes remaining, Eliseo Salazar scrambled into Stan Wattles' back-up car, but managed only 211 mph on the first two laps. The car began smoking, and he was waved off. The 6 o'clock gun fired with Hideshi Matsuda waiting in line.

With Lyn St. James having failed to qualify, the 500 had an all-male field for the first time since 1991.

Carb Day - Thursday May 21[edit]

The final practice session saw the Foyt entries of Kenny Bräck and Billy Boat top the speed chart. Bräck (220.994 mph) was the only driver over 220 mph. No incidents were reported, but Stan Wattles twice stalled on the track with mechanical problems.

Panther Racing with driver Scott Goodyear won the Coors Indy Pit Stop Challenge.

Starting grid[edit]

Row Inside Middle Outside
1 11 United States Billy Boat 97 United States Greg Ray 14 Sweden Kenny Bräck
2 1 United States Tony Stewart 3 United States Robbie Buhl 99 United States Sam Schmidt
3 8 United States Scott Sharp 6 United States Davey Hamilton 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero
4 4 Canada Scott Goodyear 91 United States Buddy Lazier  W  28 United States Mark Dismore
5 44 United States J. J. Yeley  R  16 Brazil Marco Greco 40 United States Jack Miller
6 81 United States John Paul Jr. 51 United States Eddie Cheever 12 United States Buzz Calkins
7 17 United States Andy Michner  R  53 United States Jim Guthrie 52 United States Robby Unser  R 
8 18 United States Jack Hewitt  R  55 United States Steve Knapp  R  98 United States Donnie Beechler  R 
9 9 United States Johnny Unser 7 United States Jimmy Kite  R  35 United States Jeff Ward
10 5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk  W  19 United States Stan Wattles  R  30 Brazil Raul Boesel
11 77 France Stéphan Grégoire 10 United States Mike Groff 33 United States Billy Roe

Alternates[edit]

Failed to qualify[edit]

Race recap[edit]

Pre race[edit]

Rain fell race morning, and delayed the start of the race by about 35 minutes. While track drying efforts were on-going, a dog sneaked out onto the track in turn four, and began running down the pit lane. It eluded officials, and ran all the way to turn two before being caught. Mari Hulman George gave the command to start engines at 11:32 a.m. EST, and the field pulled away for the parade laps. Before the final pace lap, Raul Boesel entered the pits with a fuel pump problem and missed the start of the race. His car would only complete three racing laps before being towed to the garage on Lap 8, going on to lose 35 laps until he was back on track.

Start[edit]

At the start, Eddie Cheever got loose in turn one, and pinched J. J. Yeley down to the inside, which resulted in a half-spin for both of them, and an early caution for three laps. Despite a slight contact, Cheever continued unharmed. Yeley managed to stop the car without hitting the wall, but his engine stalled, and lost a lap awaiting to be restarted by safety crews.

At the front of the pack, Billy Boat led the first dozen laps, while Kenny Bräck dropped from third to tenth on the restart due to a missed gear. On lap 13, Greg Ray took over the lead, with Tony Stewart charging in third after exchanging passes with teammate Robbie Buhl. On Lap 16, Buddy Lazier pitted out of sequence from tenth place, looking for an alternative strategy. By Lap 19, Bräck had climbed back to third place, passing Buhl and Boat in the same lap.

On Lap 21, Ray became hung up in traffic, and Stewart dove into the lead down the main stretch. One lap later, however, Stewart's engine blew and the car coasted to a stop in turn one. A dejected Stewart threw his steering wheel and gloves into his empty cockpit, as misfortune struck him again for the third straight "500".

"Well, I mean, this is the only thing I've ever wanted to do in my life, this has been my number one goal, and every year I get shit on doing it, so... How would you feel?"

Tony Stewart, in a live interview during ABC's broadcast.

First half[edit]

The first round of pit stops under caution saw an incident between Jeff Ward and Stéphan Grégoire. After his stop, Ward collided with the left rear tyre of Grégoire as he was entering his pit box, damaging his own front wing. Billy Boat fell to the bottom of the top 10 after stalling his car, and Arie Luyendyk developed a clutch issue that prevented him from downshifting into first or second gear, which made him stall three times before finally getting onto the track. Just before the restart, Scott Goodyear relinquished his fourth place and entered the pits again, losing 35 laps with clutch issues.

Greg Ray led the restart on Lap 27 ahead of Kenny Bräck and Davey Hamilton, while running behind the cars of Luyendyk and Lazier, which were still on the lead lap. By that point, Eddie Cheever was already up to 10th place, having passed several cars and taking advantage from not stopping during the previous caution. On Lap 32, race leader Ray slowed suddenly on the backstraight with a broken transmission. He made it to the pits and would later rejoin the race, 18 laps down. Two laps later, Donnie Beechler broke an engine, bringing out the third caution of the race, on which Lazier made his second pit stop and Boat made additional stops to correct handling issues.

Robbie Buhl had overtaken Hamilton during a brief slowdown caused by Ray's issues, and was second behind Kenny Bräck, but he encountered water temperature problems in his engine. After the restart on Lap 39, Buhl lost places to Hamilton and Scott Sharp, and was already down in seventh place when he suffered yet another engine failure, ending Team Menard's race on Lap 45. Before that yellow, Cheever continued his charge towards the front; having passed Roberto Guerrero and rookie Steve Knapp earlier, he also got past Sam Schmidt, Buhl and Sharp to claim third place, just missing on a pass for second over Hamilton while the caution came out. Buzz Calkins and Buddy Lazier, both out of sequence, led the restart as the green came out on Lap 49, while Billy Boat's gearbox finally seized as it got stuck in second gear.

"Going into (turn) 3, I thought Davey saw me, I thought we were gonna go through side by side. At the last minute, he just took his line, which is his right, and I just stood on the brakes, and then just all hell broke loose after that"

Sam Schmidt, in a live interview during ABC's broadcast.

During the restart lap, a major crash occurred in turn 3 when several cars were running two-wide at the front of the field. Sam Schmidt, running inside of Davey Hamilton for second place, got into the grass, lost control, and spun backwards into the turn three wall. Eddie Cheever, who was immediately behind after getting passed by Schmidt, slipped underneath, and escaped the incident. Stan Wattles ran into the back of Mark Dismore, and they collected Roberto Guerrero.

Jim Guthrie then approached the scene and tried to avoid the crash by running on the grass, but he collected an errant wing from Schmidt's car that fell in front of him just as he rejoined the racetrack, and the car shot head-on into the outside wall. Guthrie was extracted by the medical team and transported to Methodist Hospital with a broken elbow, broken leg, and cracked ribs. Billy Roe avoided the incident at first, but spun the car on the deceleration lane between turns 3 and 4, and crashed.

After a long yellow flag, and a series of pit stops, Kenny Bräck and Eddie Cheever were leading the race over Scott Sharp. Arie Luyendyk had taken advantage of the high attrition and good restarts to place himself in fourth place over an advancing John Paul Jr. and Davey Hamilton, who had repaired minor damages during his pit stop. Buddy Lazier, on the other hand, had stayed out in the lead until Lap 61 and was placed in tenth at the time among the 13 cars on the lead lap. The race got back underway on Lap 64, with Cheever taking the lead for the first time on Lap 68 and Paul Jr. climbing up to second by Lap 73, while Sharp lost places steadily.

Green flag pit stops occurred from Lap 83, with Buddy Lazier pitting ten laps later. Arie Luyendyk had to be pushed out due to his clutch issues, and a miscalculation by Foyt's crew caused Kenny Bräck to run out of fuel, costing him two laps. The mistake angered A. J. Foyt, who scolded his engineers before smashing the team's computer. Eddie Cheever lost some time during his stop as he exited his pit box before his crew removed the fuel nozzle, but he managed to retain the lead by 1.5 seconds over John Paul Jr., with Davey Hamilton a further five seconds behind and Robby Unser holding Luyendyk for fourth. As Cheever had lapped several cars, Steve Knapp and Lazier were the last cars on the lead lap, half a minute behind. Just after the pit stops were completed, the caution came out on Lap 96, as Jimmy Kite stopped along the track.

Second half[edit]

With just seven cars on the lead lap, Eddie Cheever and Steve Knapp took advantage of the yellow to top off on fuel, handing the lead to John Paul Jr. as the green came out at the halfway point, when Johnny Unser retired with a blown engine. Paul pulled a five second lead over Davey Hamilton before he pitted on Lap 113, with Robby Unser, Hamilton and Arie Luyendyk following suit. After completing a pit stop, Jack Miller stopped on Turn 2 with a battery issue, handing Cheever, Buddy Lazier and Knapp the opportunity to pit again.

After the Lap 128 restart, Luyendyk passed Hamilton for second, and Cheever followed suit climbing up to third. After his earlier gearbox troubles, Billy Boat finally dropped out for good on Lap 132. In the subsequent caution, Jeff Ward lost a rear wheel that had been poorly fixed in a previous green flag stop. The race restarted on Lap 136, with Paul Jr., Luyendyk and Cheever running closely together. Paul Jr. picked up a big piece of plastic in his radiators and had a slow pit stop on Lap 147, and Robby Unser overshoot his pit stall.

Luyendyk's clutch problems finally took their toll on Lap 150 as he left the pits very slowly. The caution came out three laps later, as Luyendyk pulled off between turns 3 and 4, causing Robby Unser to fall off the lead lap. Paul Jr. and Hamilton had managed to not lose a lap with Cheever and led the restart order on Lap 157. Hamilton was quickly dealt with, but Paul Jr. offered more resistance until Lap 163, when a malfunction in the yellow flag indicator of his steering wheel made him lift off just enough to lose his lap. This left Buddy Lazier and Steve Knapp as the only other drivers on the lead lap, four and seven seconds back respectively.

A new caution period on Lap 176 set the stage for the end of the race, when Stéphan Grégoire brushed the wall heavily in Turn 4. John Paul Jr.'s slim chances for a win died when he stalled four times trying to exit the pits on lap 177. He lost three laps, and was in the pits for almost four minutes. All three drivers in the lead lap were now in the same strategy, with Cheever and Lazier separated by the lapped cars of Robby Unser and Jeff Ward, and Steve Knapp a further four lapped cars behind Lazier. The restart on Lap 180 was short lived, as Jack Hewitt spun the car on the outside of Turn 1. The veteran rookie used his dirt track skills to keep the car off the wall. In the following restart, Scott Sharp lost second gear and had to retire from fifth place.

Finish[edit]

"I don't know what I'm supposed to say. [...] I had about 15 guardian angels help me today, I had five or six close calls, but I squeezed through all of them. I wasn't gonna finish second, second was not on the books today. (I was) Either gonna win, or not finish at all"

Eddie Cheever, during ABC's victory lane interview.

With 17 laps to go, Buddy Lazier passed the lapped cars on the restart and went after Cheever, being able to keep up for a few laps. Cheever eventually stretched the lead to over 3 seconds, but another yellow on Lap 191 was brought out by the smoking car of Marco Greco. With five laps to go, the green came back out, and Lazier was nose-to-tail with Cheever, who held off the challenge as he weaved from side to side in the front straight. Cheever set off on a blistering pace and almost brushed the wall a lap later at the exit of Turn 3, but stretched out to a 3.19-second margin to grab the victory.

Steve Knapp, the only other driver to finish on the lead lap, was named rookie of the year after finishing third in his first Indy car race, a feat last accomplished by Lyn St. James in 1992. Kenny Bräck salvaged a sixth place finish, and Andy Michner kept his nose clean while battling an electrical problem to finish eighth over J. J. Yeley. Both were scored three laps down, and neither would run at Indy again. Mike Groff suffered from engine misfires during the whole race in route to a 15th place finish, in what would be his final Indy car start.

Cheever became the first driver to win the Indy 500 in his own car since A. J. Foyt in 1977, and the first winner since 1989 to have led the most laps. His win from 17th on the grid was the farthest an Indy car race had been won since Al Unser's fourth Indy 500 win from 20th in 1987. For the first time, and last, since 1982, all drivers in the top 5 hailed from the United States, with Bräck as the lone foreign driver within the top 13, and four rookies finished in the top 10 for the first time since 1965. Due to the high attrition among the main favourites, none of the top 3 drivers had started in the first three rows, as it had happened in the highly infamous 1973 and 1992 races.

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Qual Rank Chassis Engine Tire Laps Status Entrant
1 17 51 United States Eddie Cheever 217.334 22 Dallara Oldsmobile G 200 Running Team Cheever
2 11 91 United States Buddy Lazier  W  218.287 14 Dallara Oldsmobile G 200 Running Hemelgarn Racing
3 23 55 United States Steve Knapp  R  216.445 31 G-Force Oldsmobile G 200 Running ISM Racing
4 8 6 United States Davey Hamilton 219.748 8 G-Force Oldsmobile G 199 Running Nienhouse Motorsports
5 21 52 United States Robby Unser  R  216.533 29 Dallara Oldsmobile G 198 Running Team Cheever
6 3 14 Sweden Kenny Bräck 220.982 3 Dallara Oldsmobile G 198 Running A. J. Foyt Enterprises
7 16 81 United States John Paul Jr. 217.351 21 Dallara Oldsmobile F 197 Running Team Pelfrey
8 19 17 United States Andy Michner  R  216.922 26 Dallara Oldsmobile G 197 Running Chitwood Motorsports
9 13 44 United States J. J. Yeley  R  218.045 16 Dallara Oldsmobile F 197 Running Sinden Racing Services
10 18 12 United States Buzz Calkins 217.197 24 G-Force Oldsmobile G 195 Running Bradley Motorsports
11 26 7 United States Jimmy Kite  R  219.290 9 Dallara Oldsmobile G 195 Running Team Scandia
12 22 18 United States Jack Hewitt  R  216.450 30 G-Force Oldsmobile G 195 Running PDM Racing
13 27 35 United States Jeff Ward 219.086 10 G-Force Oldsmobile G 194 Running ISM Racing
14 14 16 Brazil Marco Greco 217.953 17 G-Force Oldsmobile F 183 Engine Phoenix Racing
15 32 10 United States Mike Groff 216.704 27 G-Force Oldsmobile F 183 Running Jonathan Byrd/Cunningham Racing
16 7 8 United States Scott Sharp 219.911 7 Dallara Oldsmobile G 181 Gearbox Kelley Racing
17 31 77 France Stéphan Grégoire 217.036 25 G-Force Oldsmobile G 172 Running Chastain Motorsports
18 2 97 United States Greg Ray 221.125 2 Dallara Oldsmobile F 167 Gearbox Knapp Motorsports
19 30 30 Brazil Raul Boesel 217.303 23 G-Force Oldsmobile G 164 Running McCormack Motorsports
20 28 5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk  W  218.935 11 G-Force Oldsmobile F 151 Gearbox Treadway Racing
21 15 40 United States Dr. Jack Miller 217.800 19 Dallara Infiniti F 128 Running Sinden Racing Services
22 9 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero 218.900 12 Dallara Oldsmobile G 125 Running Pagan Racing
23 1 11 United States Billy Boat 223.503 1 Dallara Oldsmobile G 111 Drive Line A. J. Foyt Enterprises
24 10 4 Canada Scott Goodyear 218.357 13 G-Force Oldsmobile G 100 Clutch Panther Racing
25 25 9 United States Johnny Unser 216.316 33 Dallara Oldsmobile G 98 Engine Hemelgarn Racing
26 6 99 United States Sam Schmidt 219.981 6 Dallara Oldsmobile F 48 Accident LP Racing
27 12 28 United States Mark Dismore 218.096 15 Dallara Oldsmobile G 48 Accident Kelley Racing
28 29 19 United States Stan Wattles  R  217.477 20 Riley & Scott Oldsmobile G 48 Accident Metro Racing
29 20 53 United States Jim Guthrie 216.604 28 G-Force Oldsmobile G 48 Accident ISM Racing
30 33 33 United States Billy Roe 217.834 18 Dallara Oldsmobile G 48 Accident Team Scandia
31 5 3 United States Robbie Buhl 220.236 5 Dallara Oldsmobile F 44 Engine Team Menard
32 24 98 United States Donnie Beechler  R  216.357 32 G-Force Oldsmobile F 34 Engine Cahill Racing
33 4 1 United States Tony Stewart 220.386 4 Dallara Oldsmobile F 22 Engine Team Menard

 W  – former Indianapolis 500 winner

 R  – Indianapolis 500 rookie

Race statistics[edit]

Tire participation chart
Supplier No. of starters
Goodyear 22*
Firestone 11 
* - Denotes race winner

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the Indy Racing Radio Network. The network, previously known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, had changed its name for 1998, to reflect its coverage of the entire Indy Racing League season. At least 541 affiliates carried the broadcast across the United States.[4]

Bob Jenkins served as chief announcer for the ninth and final year. Overall it would be the 20th and final year for Jenkins on the radio network crew (except for a brief stint as a turn reporter in 2007–2008). In addition, Jerry Baker celebrated his milestone 25th year on the broadcast.

Johnny Rutherford served as "driver expert". WTHR sports director and Speedway public address announcer Dave Calabro joined the crew as a pit reporter, his lone radio network appearance. This was also Gary Lee's final year on the radio network.

Indy Racing Radio Network
Booth Announcers Turn Reporters Pit/garage reporters

Chief Announcer: Bob Jenkins
Driver expert: Johnny Rutherford
Statistician: Howdy Bell
Historian: Donald Davidson
Commentary: Chris Economaki

Turn 1: Jerry Baker
Turn 2: Ken Double
Turn 3: Gary Lee
Turn 4: Bob Lamey

Mark Jaynes (north pits)
Dave Calabro (center pits)
Vince Welch (south pits)
Chuck Marlowe (garages)

Television[edit]

The race was carried live flag-to-flag coverage in the United States on ABC Sports. Paul Page served as host and play-by-play announcer with Tom Sneva as analyst. Longtime color commentator Bobby Unser left ABC, while Danny Sullivan was reassigned to cover CART races exclusively and would no longer be with the broadcast. This would be Page's final 500 for the next three years. After the 1998 season, Page would move exclusively to CART series broadcasts while being replaced in 1999 by soon to be former voice of the 500 Bob Jenkins.

For the first time since the early 1980s, one of the pit reporters (Gary Gerould) rode in the pace car, reporting live at the start of the race. During the broadcast itself, Brent Musburger had a small role as Wide World of Sports studio host.

At the track itself, the Speedway broadcast the race live on a special targeted signal, intended to be picked up by television sets within the radius of the grounds. This was the first and only time this special signal has been used.

ABC Television
Booth Announcers Pit/garage reporters

Host/Announcer: Paul Page
Color: Tom Sneva

Jack Arute
Gary Gerould
Dr. Jerry Punch

Practice and time trials were carried over three networks: ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2.

  • Live Daily Reports (ESPN2): Paul Page, Jon Beekhuis, Jerry Punch, Jack Arute, Gary Gerould
  • Time trials (ABC): Paul Page, Tom Sneva, Jack Arute, Gary Gerould, Brent Musberger (studio host)
  • Time trials (ESPN/ESPN2): Paul Page, Jon Beekhuis, Jerry Punch, Gary Gerould

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cavin, Curt (May 18, 1998). "The little engine that couldn't". The Indianapolis Star. p. 38. Retrieved April 24, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  2. ^ "The Callahan Report: Tony Stewart's Team Owner Should Shut Up and Race". The Auto Channel. 1998-06-30. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  3. ^ "Columnist Brian Hilderbrand: Bahre battling lung disease". Las Vegas Sun. 1998-07-02. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  4. ^ 1998 Indianapolis 500 - Daily Trackside Report; pg. 105

Works cited[edit]


Previous race:
1998 Dura Lube 200
Indy Racing League
1998 season
Next race:
1998 True Value 500

Previous race:
1997 Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis 500 Next race:
1999 Indianapolis 500