By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Indianapolis, IN (May 8, 2001) - During the waning minutes of happy hour Mark Dismore set the fastest lap of the event, touring the 2.5 mile circuit at 224.823 mph, half a mile an hour faster than Greg Ray...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Indianapolis, IN (May 8, 2001) - During the waning minutes of happy hour Mark Dismore set the fastest lap of the event, touring the 2.5 mile circuit at 224.823 mph, half a mile an hour faster than Greg Ray went on opening day.
Dismore, a native of Greenfield, IN, drives for Kelley Racing which is based in Ft. Wayne. Hoosiers would like nothing better than to have an all Indiana team win the Indianapolis 500. "I could sit here and talk all day and I still couldn't express what it would mean," to win the Indianapolis 500, said Dismore. "If I win the pole, I'll be real happy. If I win the race, you'll probably have to call an ambulance."
Dismore's teammate, Scott Sharp, turned his best lap of the event, averaging 221.083 mph to end the day 15th on the day's speed chart. Sharp suffered an engine failure late in the afternoon raising questions regarding the reliability of the Ilmor prepared engines.
"Ilmor has only six months of experience," said Dismore. "They know what is going on. They know why the engines failed, and I can't worry about that. On the negative side, Scott has lost some track time. From a positive side, I can give him some feedback, and we have time to learn from our problems."
Arie Luyendyk, two time winner of the Indianapolis 500 was second fastest today. Luyendyk had just recorded his best lap, at 223.986 mph, when he entered turn one to find the remains of Casey Mears' car sliding across the race track.
"I was heading into turn one and saw the smoke," said Luyendyk. "I knew that wasn't a good sign. I didn't want to go high and get into the debris, so I turned just a little bit left. That was enough to make my car spin. I put my head back and waited for the hit that never happened. I was lucky but also smart to keep the wheel as straight as I could."
Mears spun 180 degrees after entering turn one, hitting the outside wall. He exited the car under his own power and was taken to Methodist Hospital for precautionary x-rays after complaining of back pain.
Jeff Ward was third fastest on the day with a lap of 223.716 mph. Ward's best lap, recorded a few minutes past noon, kept him atop the speed charts for most of the day. It wasn't until happy hour, when the track gets cooler and speeds increase, that Luyendyk nipped Ward by going four one-hundredths of a second faster.
"Today we were tweaking and came away pleasantly surprised," said Ward. "This car is race worn and the and the motor has about 500 miles on it. We were trying to trim out the car out as much as possible to get more speed. We were able to take out some of the drag, and I was surprised at how much speed we were able to pick up."
Buddy Lazier and Eddie Cheever round out the top-five.
"I think the Infiniti engine is capable of 225 mph, but our handling is lagging behind," said Cheever. "We can't get the car to handle well in turn one. Scott (Goodyear) seems to have the No. 52 car working a bit better than our No. 51 car at the moment. I think he could have been in the high 223s or 224s today but he has been very unlucky. Every time that he has put on a new set of tires it has either rained or something has broken."
Goodyear was tenth fastest on the day with a lap at 222.132 mph.
Tony Stewart, who won the 1996-97 Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship, found himself 21st at the end of the day after turning a best lap of 220.076 mph. "This is the most competitive I've ever seen this series," said Stewart. "This is my fifth year being here. In the last four years I was here, it was never this competitive. It's pretty impressive to see how much this series has grown and how competitive it is now."
Fifteen drivers recorded speeds at or above 221 mph.
Casey Mears was taken to Methodist Hospital where additional precautionary x-rays were order at 7:00 p.m. EST. If the additional x-rays continue to be positive, Mears will be released tonight.
Sixty cars are currently in Gasoline Alley and 55 of them have passed technical inspection.
Bill Vukovich II visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today for the first time in nearly a decade. Vukovich separated himself from racing after his son, Billy Vukovich III, was killed in a sprint car race in California in 1990. "It finally dawned on me that my niche is in racing," said Vukovich. The Vukovich family is the only one where the father, son and grandson have all competed in the Indianapolis 500.
More than $100,000 was raised on Sunday night at Morton's Steakhouse during a benefit for the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. The highlight of the auction was a 2000 Indianapolis 500 Titan motorcycle donated by Tony George. The motorcycle is serial number 001. Number 002 is owned by Juan Montoya.
A second benefit for the organization will be held starting at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22. The $5 cover charge will benefit the foundation. The benefit will feature a silent auction of racing memorabilia and an appearance by local musicians Dave and Ray.