IRL: Charlotte - Day 2 - 97-07-23

DAY 2 - JULY 23 Between times of wet conditions, the Goody's Dash Series got in 50 minutes of practice, 2:10-3 p.m. Mike Swaim Jr., led 33 other competitors with an unofficial lap of 151.877, followed by A.J. Frank at 149.225 and Charlie Powell...

DAY 2 - JULY 23

Between times of wet conditions, the Goody's Dash Series got in 50 minutes of practice, 2:10-3 p.m. Mike Swaim Jr., led 33 other competitors with an unofficial lap of 151.877, followed by A.J. Frank at 149.225 and Charlie Powell at 148.814.

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John Paul Jr., has the unique distinction of holding the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval-track record -- at least unofficially -- for a long time. He has a lot of experience here.

"I raced Formula Fords (at Charlotte) and won," he recalled. "I raced Super Vees against Little Al (Unser Jr.) and finished second to him. I raced IMSA GTP cars...we used the infield road course.

"We were (at CMS) for a road race and Humpy (Wheeler, CMS president) put up a prize for anyone who could break the track's stock car record (on the oval). Those (GTP cars) had a thousand horsepower. No practice...just around, take the green and try it. I set a track record in a Porsche 935 at 180 miles an hour or so. That was pretty interesting."

Paul Jr. was the first to test an Indy-style car at CMS last year when the possibility of running IRL cars was under discussion. He has another unique distinction in his career. At age 23 in 1983 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, he became the youngest pole winner for an Indy-style race since Jimmy Reece in 1952 at detroit at age 22. Paul Jr. remains the holder of that distinction, which now spans 45 years.

***

With rain imminent and wet conditions, IRL officials canceled the afternoon practice before the cars took the track.

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Several of the IRL competitors have had previous experience at CMS. Some were asked today their recollection of their first experience at Charlotte:ROBBIE BUHL: "I drove a Mercedes E320 pretty quick around this place ( a year and a half ago on a "ride and drive"). Does that count?"

ARIE LUYENDYK: "I ran an SCCA Super Vee race in 1981 (here). I think I finished around sixth. I ran in the race with John Paul Jr."

A.J. FOYT: "I ran here in the '60s with NASCAR. It didn't even have a good guard rail. It didn't have a cement wall. It's a lot safer today than it was back then. It's always been a little rough between (Turns) 3 and 4."

SCOTT GOODYEAR: "I did a practice test with a Porsche factory World SportsCar project in 1993 with Geoff Brabham, Mario Andretti, Bob Wollek, Thierry Boutsen and Hans Stuck. We were practicing for the 24 Hours of Daytona, Sebring and LeMans. The IRL open test was the first time running here with just the oval. The facilities have improved. The town has expanded. It's a world-class facility. I like this track because the fans can see all the action."

TONY STEWART: "I ran a Busch car here in 1996. I also ran the IRL open test earlier this year."

DAVEY HAMILTON: "I was here in 1995 for night qualifying for the Cup cars. I watched from the grandstands. I was in North Carolina because I was supposed to run a supermodified in Concord. But I had to go back to run a supermodified on the West Coast because I was in the point lead."

JIMMY KITE: "The first time here was in October, 1994 for the Mello Yello 500 (as a spectator). My first time ever on the track was yesterday." NOTE: This is Kite's first time on a 1 1/2-mile high-banked oval. Kite has experience on short-track high- banked ovals, however, and won the 50-lap NAMAR midget feature last Saturday night under the lights at Salem, Indiana's 1/2-mile oval.

DICK SIMON (former driver and owner who is now an engineer for Team Scandia): "I think it was '78 or '79 when I was here at Charlotte. Janet Guthrie called me and said she couldn't run her Winston Cup car. It was scaring her to death. The crew was up to their wit's end trying to figure out what the problem was. Janet asked me to come over on a plane and take the car for` a spin. I flew over, got in the car and immediately spun the car. I did two 360s but managed to keep it off the wall. I came in the pits and suggested to the crew to put the stiffest spring they had on the right front corner. Janet got back in the car and qualified around ninth. Then I flew right back to Indy."

Sam Schmidt drove a Shelby Can Am car here (also under the lights) in 1994 before a crowd of 50,000. This weekend marks the first time here for Stephan Gregoire, Greg Ray, Vincenzo Sospiri, Billy Boat, Affonso Giaffone, Kenny Brack, Eliseo Salazar and Roberto Guerrero. Dr. Jack Miller's first time here was at the open test last month as it was for Eddie Cheever Jr.

AFTERNOON IRL QUOTES:

DR. JACK MILLER: "High speed and high-banked ovals...I love this. I wish they were all this way. I'm pretty proud to be here. You've got to hold on to the car. It's smoother than the time we were here before (last month).

MARCO GRECO: "The first time that I've raced at Charlotte was yesterday. The people are as warm as the weather." (about the track's similarity to Texas): "Some parts, yes. On the corners, there are some differences, like coming out of Turn 2 and Turn 4." (about the lights): "I don't have a problem with the lights. I ran a go-kart race and a 12-hour race (at night)."

***

The IRL Kids on-site child care program is open 3-9 p.m. Thursday, 3-9 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. to the end of the VisionAire 500 on Saturday in the infield near the Northeast Medical Center.

*** REVISED THURSDAY SCHEDULE:

10:30 a.m.                -- Gates open
Noon                        -- Garage opens
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.        -- NASCAR Goody's Dash Series practice
2-3 p.m.                        --  NASCAR Goody's Dash Series qualifying
3:45-5:30 p.m.                -- IRL practice
5:30-6:30 p.m.                -- Legends race
6:45 p.m.                -- IRL cars in qualifying line
7-8:30 p.m.                -- IRL qualifying
8:45 p.m.                -- NASCAR Goody's Dash Series race

END WEDNESDAY NOTES

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Eliseo Salazar , Billy Boat , Roberto Guerrero , Sam Schmidt , Mario Andretti , Thierry Boutsen , Bob Wollek , John Paul , Geoff Brabham , Vincenzo Sospiri , A.J. Frank , Jack Miller