1996 Indy 500 - Practice Notes: 05/07/96

Rain delayed the opening of practice. The track opened for the first time at 2:18 p.m. under yellow and went green at 2:25 p.m. Scott Brayton in the #2 Glidden Menards Special posted a lap at 231.119 miles per hour at 2:30 p.m. and 233.918 at 2:40 p.m., fastest of the day at that point. Brayton then turned a lap at 235.750 at 2:51 p.m., second fastest practice lap in Speedway history. At 2:59 p.m., Eddie Cheever in the #3 Quaker State Menards Special turned a lap at 233.360, second fastest of the day. At 3:54 p.m., Buzz Calkins in the #12 Bradley Food Marts Reynard reached 231.839, third fastest of the day and becoming the fourth driver of the month to exceed 230 miles per hour. At 4:33 p.m., Arie Luyendyk in the #5 Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria/Bryant Heating & Cooling entry reached 232.162, third fastest of the day. At 5:24 p.m., Tony Stewart in the #20 Menards/Glidden/Quaker State Special ran consecutive laps of 235.516 and 236.121, the last being top speed of the day. At 5:43 p.m., #3 Cheever reached 235.448, third fastest of the day and putting three Team Menard cars at the top of the speed chart. At 5:59 p.m., #3 Cheever reached 235.997, second fastest of the day.

TONY STEWART: (about close call): "I caught Brad (Murphey) on the backstretch and thought I could get by him. I just tried to go underneath him. It was just a learning experience. I won't do that again."

SCOTT BRAYTON: "This is the smoothest, without a doubt, that the track has ever been. If you'd been here before and came back now, it's incredibly smooth and has a lot of grip. It's going to take us places we haven't been yet."

EDDIE CHEEVER: (following Brayton's comment): "...and don't want to go." (about testing): "I haven't done much testing. I spent most of my time in Phoenix in the hospital. It's getting late and the car is exteremly well-balanced. I'm almost embarrassed to be running this good so early."

Johnny Unser and Paul Durant each completed the third, fourth and final phases of their driver's tests, becoming the 12th and 13th drivers of the month to complete them. Those passing the driver's test Monday were Mark Dismore, Tony Stewart, Michele Alboreto, Buzz Calkins, Michel Jourdain Jr., Richie Hearn, Racin Gardner, Randy Tolsma, Dan Drinan, Brad Murphey and Jim Guthrie. Veteran driver observers for today's final phase for Durant and Unser were Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, George Snider and Steve Chassey.

Zunne Group Racing announced this morning in the Trackside Conference Room that Lyn St. James would drive its #45 Spirit of Antonio entry, fielded by McCormack Motorsports. The car is the 1994 Lola/Ford Cosworth that Hideshi Matsuda qualified seventh fastest in the 1995 field. "It's a great feeling to be a veteran here," said St. James. "I know what it's like to be a rookie. You don't screw it up here. There's a confidence level you have to gain here. This is a wonderful place to get clean miles. As a race car driver, anyone who knows me knows I'll do whatever I have to to drive...sweep floors, knock on doors. I'm very proud that this is my first Indy car ride that's not predicated on sponsorships." (Track repaving) "It appears with the speeds that have been run here that the repaving has made a considerable difference, the tires are better and there have been some tweaks made, but the speed gains are probably predicated on track and tire changes." (Difference between a 1-mile oval and the Speedway) "There is no doubt about it, it's busier at Orlando or Phoenix than here, I never found the straightaway in Orlando at all. There is definitely more precision and concentration needed here than on a one-mile oval."

Kevin Olson and Danny Ongais passed their physicals today, bringing the total to 49 drivers, according to Dr. Henry Bock, Speedway medical director.

The inaugural Women's Invitational Golf Tourney to benefit the USAC Benevolent Foundation is scheduled for May 21 on the West Nine at Eagle Creek Golf Course. The foundation was started in the 1950s as a supplement and assistance to long range needs for those injured in USAC competition and their families. All proceeds from the tournament go directly to the foundation. For information, contact Bill Marvel at the USAC office, (317) 247-5151 or Louise Hardy, tourney chairperson, at (317) 272-6000.

Stan Wattles, who led the Indy Racing League inaugural race at Walt Disney World in January, and his wife, Jill, became the parents of Caroline Alexandra at 11:26 p.m. Monday. Caroline checked in at seven pounds, 15 ounces. "We've already got Caroline's go-kart picked out," Wattles said. He is still recovering from injuries suffered in a crash during practice in March at Phoenix and said he expects to drive Atlantic cars and resume testing in Indianapolis-type cars in June.

23 cars were on the track today, running 754 laps. Cars on track today: #2 Scott Brayton, Glidden Menards Special; #3 Eddie Cheever, Quaker State Menards Special; #5 Arie Luyendyk, Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria/Bryant Heating & Cooling; #7 Eliseo Salazar, Cristal/Copec Mobil; #8 Alessandro Zampedri, Mi-Jack/AGIP/Dinema; #10 Murphey; #11 Scott Sharp, Conseco AJ Foyt Racing; #12 Calkins; #14 Davey Hamilton, AJ Foyt Copenhagen Racing; #18 John Paul Jr., V-Line Earl's Supply; #21 and #21 Roberto Guerrero, WavePhore/Pennzoil Reynard-Ford; #36 Drinan; #41 Marco Greco, AJ Foyt Enterprises; #44 Hearn; #45 Lyn St. James, Spirit of San Antonio; #60 Mike Groff, Valvoline Cummins Craftsman Special; #64 Unser; #70 Davy Jones, Delco Electronics High Tech Team Galles; #91 Buddy Lazier, Hemelgarn Racing-Delta Faucet; #96 Durant.

A total of 39 cars are now at the Speedway, 38 have passed technical inspection and 1 is in the process. 33 drivers have been on the track to date. There were 8 yellows for 54 minutes. There was four hours, 48 minutes of lost time to start the day because of wet conditions. Temperature was 63 degrees at track closing with winds SE at 3 mph.

--IMS--