IRL: Indianapolis practice report 96-05-06

At 9:19 a.m., Tony Stewart in the ...

At 9:19 a.m., Tony Stewart in the #20 Menards/Glidden/Quaker State Special reached 231.774 miles per hour, fastest practice lap for a rookie in the history of the Speedway. The previous fastest was 231.523 miles per hour by Andre Ribeiro on May 11, 1995. Trap speed for Stewart's lap was 235. According to Larry Curry, director of racing for Team Menard, a USAC official told Curry that Stewart could run at any comfortable speed. Curry responded by saying, "Don't just tell me to go out there, because I will (meaning Stewart)." Stewart then went out and got the fast lap. At 2:08 p.m., Stewart reached 230.438 in the #32 Glidden Menards Special. He became the fifth driver in the history of the Speedway to turn 230-plus laps in two different cars on the same day. Andre Ribeiro was the first on May 11, 1995 and Arie Luyendyk, Robby Gordon and Scott Brayton achieved the milestone the following day. AT 4:40 p.m., Stewart turned a lap at 237.336 miles per hour, fastest practice lap in the history of the Speedway, breaking the mark of 234.913 set by Arie Luyendyk at 5:46 p.m., May 12, 1995. Stewart's trap speed on the fastest lap was 244.

The fastest completion of a driver test at the Speedway was 52 minutes (of green time) by Nigel Mansell on May 12, 1993. Mark Dismore was the first to complete four phases of the driver test today at 9:19 a.m. Buzz Calkins in the #12 Bradley Food Marts Reynard was first to complete all five phases at 11:14 a.m. Drivers completing the fourth phase were asked to wait until 11 a.m. (actual final phase start was 11:05 a.m.) for the final observer phase. Based on actual green time running to complete the test, Dismore did it the quickest in 71 minutes, followed by Tony Stewart in 76 minutes, Michele Alboreto in 101 minutes, Calkins in 110 minutes, Michel Jourdain Jr. in 125 minutes and Richie Hearn in 126 minutes. Stewart and Dismore completed the observation phase at 11:15 a.m., Alboreto at 11:34, Jourdain Jr. at 11:38 and Hearn at 11:40. Veteran driver observers for the 11 a.m. final phase were Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, Scott Brayton and Steve Chassey.

Five drivers completed the final observation phase of drivers' tests this afternoon and were cleared to drive. They were Racin Gardner at 5:06 p.m., Randy Tolsma at 5:07 p.m., Dan Drinan at 5:09 p.m., Brad Murphey at 5:12 p.m. and Jim Guthrie at 5:13 p.m. The drivers serving as observers were Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, Davey Hamilton, Dean Hall and Scott Sharp. Paul Durant and Johnny Unser each passed the first two phases of driver's tests and Fermin Velez passed the first phase.

TONY STEWART: "It was the first day we really got to let it go and it's fast. We trimmed it out a little from this morning and I ran it flat all the way around. The car feels really balanced. This is the fastest I've run here, even in testing. When I was out there, Larry (Curry) called in and said, 'Pit, pit, pit' and I radioed back and said 'What's wrong?' and he said, 'Nothing. You just were really fast.' I told Larry the car felt more comfortable at 237 than 231. It's like a Cadillac." (about fastest practice lap at Speedway): "I'll take it. I just need two more things...the pole and to win. It's an honor to have the fastest lap. I feel very honored being a rookie and being with Team Menard."

LARRY CURRY (director of racing, Team Menard): "I've had people ask me if I think 240 is doable and this guy sitting next to me (Stewart) thinks there's more left in the car, so we'll see. When Tony came with the team, we gave him the worst car we had. It just goes to show you how talented he is." (Difference between Stewart's car today and last year's pole car): "Nothing." (About Stewart): "I've kept Tony on a short leash through testing. He is very good at listening and following goals. Tony had already run 235 in conditions similar to this. We ran 230, 231 this morning, then we went back and changed engines and you can read into that what you may. There are only six of these cars that have been made and we have them all."

MARK DISMORE: "Six weeks ago, I did about 30-35 minutes of testing, then we came back a week later and did the same, and that's all the time I've had here (this year). ROP went really well. I'm really happy to be affiliated with this team." (about coming here as a "hometowner" from Greenfield): "I can understand why the foreign guys want to come over here and run. This place is really special."

BUZZ CALKINS: "UN-believable. It's good to be done (with the test). We just went out there and tried to run it comfortably. Hopefully we can test under normal conditions and start running fast again."

Chief Steward Keith Ward announced that driver's tests would continue 9-10:30 a.m. each day through Friday and during the 2-3 p.m. lunch break as necessary.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway issued the following statement this afternoon: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway filed suit today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana against CART to protect the IMS "IndyCar" trademark. The suit was necessitated, according to IMS officials, by the lawsuit filed by CART last month against IMS and by CART's continued refusal to comply with the License Agreement under which CART received permission to use the "IndyCar" trademark. In the License Agreement, which is the subject of the dispute, CART acknowledges that IMS is the owner of the trademark and its right to use the trademark is based on the continued participation of its teams in the Indianapolis 500. Tony George, President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said, "It is unfortunate CART has decided neither to cooperate nor to adhere to the terms of its contract with us. Indeed, CART continues to trade on our good name at the same time it maligns us and the Indy Racing League, and boycotts our race. Their conduct has left us with no other choice than to file this suit. From now on the lawyers will handle this matter and I will continue to devote my attention to the activities of the Speedway and to the Indianapolis 500 race."

Tiara Motorcoach Corporation (TMC) and Stihl, the outdoor power equipment manufacturer, have signed long-term arrangements to become official sponsors of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was announced today. Tiara becomes the Official Supplier of Luxury Vans for the Speedway and will also award a Dodge TMC conversion van valued at $35,000 to be presented to the pole winner of the 1996 Indianapolis 500. Stihl has been named the Speedway's Official Supplier of Power Equipment and has inaugurated the "Stihl the Leader" Award of $5,000 that will recognize the Indianapolis 500 team on the leading edge of technology as voted by a panel.

According to Dr. Henry Bock, Speedway medical director, the following additional drivers passed physicals Sunday: Scott Brayton, Eddie Cheever, Nick Fornoro Jr., Mike Groff, Roberto Guerrero, Davey Hamilton, Gordon Johncock, Davy Jones, Mike Nish and Roger Rager. Today, Gary Bettenhausen, Marco Greco, Buddy Lazier, Johnny Parsons, John Paul Jr., Scott Sharp and Lyn St. James passed physicals, bringing the total to 47.

A check of the observer logs for Day 2 (Sunday) shows that the green light went on at 9 a.m. A debris yellow occurred for one minute at 9:27 a.m. The final yellow came at 9:43 a.m. for a tow-in, followed one minute later by yellow for rain. There was a total of 42 minutes of green time.

A total of 36 cars are now at the Speedway, 22 have passed technical inspection and 14 are in the process. 16 drivers have been on the track to date. There were 12 yellows for 1 hour, 19 minutes. High for the day was 62 degrees at 5 p.m. Low was 51 at 9 a.m. Winds out of east at 13 miles per hour. Track temperature from Goodyear tire engineers at 5:55 p.m. was 79 degrees.

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Series INDYCAR