HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) -- Greg Ray always had the fastest car in the Indy Racing League. He finally drove a winner Saturday night.
The defending IRL champion blew away the field and made a mockery of those who predicted a close race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, cruising to his first victory of the year in the Midas 500 Classic.
Ray gave a glimpse of his dominance in Friday qualifying, needing only one lap in his Dallara Oldsmobile to post a speed of 215.104 mph, nearly 3 mph faster than the second-fastest qualifier, Eliseo Salazar.
Once the green flag dropped, Ray quickly showed he was the man to beat on the 1.54-mile quad-oval, pulling away from the rest of the 25-car field. He led 182 of the 208 laps and won with an average speed of 153.403 mph.
Even when the Team Menard pit crew had troubles on Ray's first two stops, allowing others to grab the lead, it didn't take long for the 33-year-old Texan to find its way back to the front.
Ray cruised to a 3.054-second victory over Buddy Lazier, who waged a spirited battle for second with Al Unser Jr. They battled wheel-to-wheel after the final caution period ended with nine laps to go.
Ray, meanwhile, pulled away for his fourth career victory, finally making his way to the winner's circle after a horrendous season. Last year's series champion had started from the pole in four of the first six races.
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