Contact: Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications 408-761-2201
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OLDSMOBILE WRAPS UP PERFECT SEASON WITH EIGHTH STRAIGHT IRL VICTORY
Indy Aurora V8 Dominates Las Vegas 500K, Wins Eighth Pole and Leads Every Lap in Indy Racing League Competition
Las Vegas; October 11, 1997 -- When the Indy Racing League completed its first year of competition with 4.0-liter production-based engines tonight at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, only one automobile manufacturer was in the winner's circle: Oldsmobile. Eliseo Salazar crowned the Indy Aurora V8's perfect season with a 1.204-second victory over Scott Goodyear in the Las Vegas 500K. Robbie Buhl, winner of the preceding race in Loudon, N.H., was third.
Oldsmobile completed its first year in Indy car competition with a perfect record: eight wins, eight poles, and eight fastest laps. Aurora racers led every lap of IRL competition in 1997 (a total of 1,573 laps or 2,185 racing miles). Aurora racer Tony Stewart won the IRL Drivers Championship, Aurora driver Jim Guthrie captured the IRL rookie title with Aurora power, and Team Menard won the team championship using Oldsmobile engines in 1997.
Salazar, 41, of Santiago, Chile, scored Team Scandia's first win in IRL competition. He qualified fifth, and led a total of 70 laps. "It's been a hard road," said Salazar, who rebounded from injuries he sustained in a crash at the start of the season. "It took perseverance. We kept testing, and finally we made it. This was a very special race -- we'll enjoy for many months until the start of the next season."
Oldsmobile dominated the IRL Manufacturers Championship by scoring 88 points -- the maximum number possible -- since the introduction of the IRL's 4.0-liter engine formula in January. Oldsmobile has now won three consecutive manufacturers titles in three distinct motorsports disciplines: NHRA drag racing (1995), IMSA road racing (1996), and Indy Racing League oval-track competition (1997).
Tony Stewart won a hard-fought battle with Davey Hamilton for the 1996-97 IRL Drivers Championship, finishing 6 points ahead of his rival. "I thought it would be hard to top '95 [when he swept three USAC titles], but this is the biggest one yet," Stewart declared.
"The most satisfying thing is for this team to win the championship in the first year with the new engine and chassis formula," added team manager Larry Curry. "Oldsmobile produced a great engine in a very short time. It takes a complete effort to win a championship."
Oldsmobile engines dominated the Las Vegas 500K as Aurora racers swept the top 18 finishing positions and led all 208 laps on the 1.5-mile oval. Twenty-eight of the 31 starters (90% of the field) used Indy Aurora V8 engines. The 16 cars running at the finish -- the most ever in an IRL race -- were all powered by Oldsmobile engines. Three drivers using Oldsmobile engines dropped out with reported engine problems. Salazar became the seventh IRL driver to win with the Indy Aurora V8 engine. Drivers who used Indy Aurora V8 engines claimed the top 22 spots in the IRL championship standings.
"This season has spotlighted the performance, reliability, and durability of the Indy Aurora V8 engine," commented Oldsmobile General Manager Darwin Clark. "By using the same basic architecture in both the racing and production versions of the Aurora V8, it's a win-win situation for IRL racing teams and for Oldsmobile customers."
The Indy Aurora V8 will be back in action at the season-opening Indy 200 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on January 24, 1998.
IRL LAS VEGAS 500k RESULTS
Driver Entrant Engine Laps Status/Reason Out 1. Eliseo Salazar Team Scandia Aurora 208 Running 2. Scott Goodyear Treadway Racing Aurora 208 Running 3. Robbie Buhl Team Menard Aurora 208 Running 4. Jim Guthrie Blueprint Racing Aurora 208 Running 5. Mark Dismore Kelley Auto Group Aurora 208 Running 6. Jimmy Kite Team Scandia Aurora 208 Running 7. Davey Hamilton A.J. Foyt Ent. Aurora 207 Running 8. Stan Wattles Metro Racing Aurora 206 Running 9. S. Gregoire Chastain Motorsports Aurora 204 Running 10. Marco Greco Galles Racing Aurora 204 Running 11. Tony Stewart Team Menard Aurora 204 Running 12. John Paul, Jr. PDM Racing Aurora 201 Running 13. Billy Roe Roe Racing Aurora 198 Running 14. R. Guerrero Pagan Racing Aurora 197 Accident 15. A. Giaffone Chitwood Motorsports Aurora 193 Running 16. Mike Shank Nienhouse Motorsports Aurora 191 Running 17. Jeff Ward ISM Racing Aurora 168 Overheating 18. Robbie Groff McCormack Motorsports Aurora 168 Running 19. Johnny Unser Hemelgarn Racing Infiniti 142 Engine 20. Kenny Brack Galles Racing Aurora 139 Suspension 21. Eddie Cheever Team Cheever Aurora 129 Engine 22. V. Sospiri Team Scandia Aurora 114 Mechanical 23. Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Ent. Aurora 97 Electrical 24. Tyce Carlson IZ Racing Infiniti 96 Ignition 25. Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing Aurora 72 Engine 26. Paul Durant Byrd-Cunningham Aurora 62 Mechanical 27. Sam Schmidt LP Racing Aurora 60 Accident 28. Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports Aurora 60 Accident 29. Jack Miller Arizona Motorsports Infiniti 59 Accident 30. Greg Ray Knapp Motorsport Aurora 35 Accident 31. Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Aurora 208 Drivetrain
Lap Leaders 1. Eliseo Salazar Aurora 70 laps 2. Mark Dismore Aurora 45 3. Jeff Ward Aurora 41 4. A. Giaffone Aurora 16 5. Robbie Buhl Aurora 12 6. Jim Guthrie Aurora 9 7. Kenny Brack Aurora 6 8. Scott Goodyear Aurora 5 9. Billy Boat Aurora 3 10. Davey Hamilton Aurora 1
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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 12-Oct-1997