Contact: Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EIGHTH STRAIGHT POLE FOR AURORA V8
Oldsmobile Engines Sweep Top 16 Spots, Power 28 of 31 Qualifiers
Las Vegas; Oct. 9, 1997 -- Oldsmobile's production-based Indy Aurora V8 racing engine took another step closer to a clean sweep of Indy Racing League competition tonight at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when Billy Boat put A.J. Foyt's Aurora-powered Indy car on the pole for the Las Vegas 500K, the finale of the 1996-97 IRL season. Boat extended the Indy Aurora V8's perfect IRL qualifying record to eight consecutive poles since the series introduced its 4.0-liter engine formula in January.
Boat circled the 1.5-mile oval at 207.413 mph to win the first pole of his IRL career. Boat's teammate, Davey Hamilton, captured the outside front row starting spot with a fast lap at 205.300 mph. Oldsmobile engines powered the 16 fastest drivers in Las Vegas; the field of 31 qualifiers (the second largest in IRL history after the Indianapolis 500) includes 28 Aurora V8-equipped entries (90 percent).
The battle lines were drawn for the IRL Driver and Team Championships when the top contenders qualified on the first and second rows. Team Menard's Tony Stewart and Robbie Buhl qualified third and fourth respectively behind the Foyt's two drivers. Stewart has a 10-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers' standings at the start of the season finale, and Team Menard has a 10-point advantage over A.J. Foyt Enterprises in the team standings. Oldsmobile has already clinched the inaugural Engine Manufacturers Championship on the strength of seven straight wins.
Boat rebounded from a crash in practice to give the Foyt team its second pole of the season. "That car has been quick ever since the first time we ran it here," Boat confided. "Then we got behind yesterday. We had a crashed race car, and I didn't have a lot of confidence. These guys on the Conseco team did a fantastic job to give me back the race car I had yesterday. The harder I pushed the car, the better it felt."
Foyt refused to rein in Boat even though Hamilton would have been earned a two-point bonus for winning the pole, cutting Stewart's advantage to eight points at the start of the race. "I'm not going to play favorites," Foyt declared. "Sure I want to win the championship two years in a row, especially for Davey because he has done a hell of a job. But I don't think Davey would want to be sitting on the pole tonight knowing that Billy gave it to him."
"I was hired to drive a race car for A.J. and that's what I do," said Hamilton. "I have to beat Tony by 10 spots, and I'm going to give it all I've got. If I win this championship, I guarantee I'll have earned it."
The Las Vegas 500K is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. local time on Saturday night, October 11. The tape-delayed telecast will begin at 4:00 pm EDT on Sunday, October 12, on ABC.
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LAS VEGAS 500K STARTING LINEUP
Driver Entrant Engine Speed Row 1 1. Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Ent. Aurora 207.413 mph 2. Davey Hamilton A.J. Foyt Ent. Aurora 205.300 Row 2 3. Tony Stewart Team Menard Aurora 205.113 4. Robbie Buhl Team Menard Aurora 205.071 Row 3 5. Eliseo Salazar Team Scandia Aurora 204.615 6. Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing Aurora 204.460 Row 4 7. Jimmy Kite Team Scandia Aurora 203.758 8. Scott Goodyear Treadway Racing Aurora 203.489 Row 5 9. Mark Dismore Kelley Auto Group Aurora 203.443 10. Marco Greco Galles Racing Aurora 203.221 Row 6 11. A. Giaffone Chitwood Mtrsprts Aurora 202.916 12. Jeff Ward ISM Racing Aurora 202.680 Row 7 13. Kenny Brack Galles Racing Aurora 202.589 14. Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Aurora 202.240 Row 8 15. V. Sospiri Team Scandia Aurora 201.568 16. S. Gregoire Chastain Mtrsprts Aurora 201.372 Row 9 17. Jack Miller Arizona Motorsports Infiniti 200.885 18. R. Guerrero Pagan Racing Aurora 200.714 Row 10 19. Jim Guthrie Blueprint Racing Aurora 200.602 20. Paul Durant Byrd-Cunningham Aurora 200.185 Row 11 21. Greg Ray Knapp Motorsports Aurora 199.837 22. Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports Aurora 198.529 Row 12 23. Sam Schmidt LP Racing Aurora 198.231 24. Tyce Carlson IZ Racing Infiniti 197.998 Row 13 25. John Paul, Jr. PDM Racing Aurora 197.679 26. Stan Wattles Metro Racing Aurora 197.542 Row 14 27. Billy Roe Roe Racing Aurora 196.951 28. Robbie Groff McCormack Mtrsprts Aurora 196.951 Row 15 29. Mike Shank Nienhouse Mtrsprts Aurora 191.918 30. Eddie Cheever, Jr. Team Cheever Aurora no time Row 16 31. Johnny Unser Hemelgarn Racing Infiniti no time
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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 10-Oct-1997