DAY 1 -- Wednesday, October 8, 1997
Welcome to the second annual Las Vegas 500k, the final race of the 1996-97 Indy Racing League season. Mai Lindstrom, IRL public relations director; Andy Hall, acting public relations representative for Las Vegas Motor Speedway and their staffs are on hand this weekend to assist you. Please direct inquiries to anyone "behind the counter." *** The #5 WavePhore-Mi-Jack entry of Treadway Racing for Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk has a new yellow-and-red paint job for the Las Vegas 500k. *** Rookie Mike Shank went out prior to the scheduled practice in the #23 Nienhouse Motorsports entry to take a 10-lap IRL rookie orientation. He reached a top lap of 191.374 miles an hour. *** IRL Practice Notes:
Track temperature at start of practice was 86 degrees, according to Goodyear tire engineers. 5:30 p.m. -- GREEN. 5:37 p.m. -- YELLOW, reflector on track. 5:39 p.m. -- GREEN. 5:47 p.m. -- YELLOW, #10 Durant dropping fluid. According to car owner Jonathan Byrd, the car had an engine failure. The team has four backup engines and plans to bring out its backup car for the session. 6:06 p.m. -- GREEN. 6:07 p.m. -- #91 Lazier turned a lap at 196.528, fastest of session. 6:09 p.m. -- #5 Luyendyk turned a lap at 199.181, fastest of session. 6:10 p.m. -- #5 Luyendyk turned a lap at 200.736, fastest of session. 6:11 p.m. -- #91 Lazier turned a lap at 201.673, fastest of session. #2T Stewart turned a lap at 202.558, fastest of session. 6:16 p.m. -- YELLOW, #1 Boat hit wall in Turn 2. 6:29 p.m. -- GREEN. 6:36 p.m. -- YELLOW, #30 R. Groff, #21 Guerrero in grass coming into pits, no contact. 6:40 p.m. -- GREEN. 6:43 p.m. -- #7 Salazar turned a lap at 202.020, second fastest of session. 6:45 p.m. -- #17 Giaffone turned a lap at 202.490, second fastest of session. 6:46 p.m. -- Boat returns to track in #1T. #35 Ward turned a lap at 202.589, fastest of session. 6:47 p.m. -- #17 Giaffone turned a lap at 202.954, fastest of session. #33 Kite turned a lap at 202.832, second fastest of session. Track temperature at end of practice was 79 degrees, according to Goodyear tire engineers. *** POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
KENNY BRACK: "The car felt very smooth and I feel comfortable with the track. We had a water pump break, but we should have it fixed in time for the next practice."
MARCO GRECO: "There was lack of grip on the rear of the car. We will make some adjustments before the next practice and hopefully correct the problem."
MIKE SHANK (after passing driver test): "The car felt better and better each lap. It's a really good car. The Riley & Scott is getting up to speed. I'm never done this before so I'm gaining confidence. J.R. (Johnny Rutherford) and Big Al (Unser) have been great. Big Al, 'Okay, no more braking, no more braking. It's time to go.' I need more work on the line and my confidence."
PAUL DURANT: "The motor let go, the car bottomed out, then the car got loose after bottoming out."
ELISEO SALAZAR: "I tested second fastest, so third quick didn't surprise me. Our goal is to be in the top five each session." (about the pole): "Yes, I think I have a shot at the pole. I'm only about three or four hundredths off. It'll be really close. The draw will affect the pole. The later the draw, the better it'll probably be because it seems to get cooler here."
STAN WATTLES: "It's great. We're happy to be here. I'm happy to be here as a driver/team owner. It's pretty wild. We can get the car competitive. We have to sort out the apples from the oranges and no bananas, despite what happened last year. We tested here at night and it's great out there. I'm just very happy to be here."
JIMMY KITE: "We came here to do three things: Have fun, enjoy the race and run an IRL race (meaning finish). Doing 185 is just as much fun as doing 202. The team is so laid back, I'm really enjoying myself. Up until Monday, we didn't know if we were going to go racing. We made the decision Monday that we were going to run in two or three days. The first two races, I felt like I had to prove to everyone that I should be here. I have and now I'm really having fun. If I qualified first or 33rd, I'll be just as happy. We have the mental attitude now we should've had going into the first two races."
AFFONSO GIAFFONE: "After we destroyed the primary car here testing, we put this one together and it just works. We got lucky."
DAVEY HAMILTON (at 5:30 p.m.): "It's going to be interesting because we definitely tested here when it was much warmer. Now, it's certainly a whole lot different. I don't think the temperatures are going to play a real big part in this. You'll see speeds climb." (about being a Las Vegas resident): "It's really nice to have it come down to what it is in front of the hometown. It couldn't be any better. It would really be nice if we can pull this off since it's come down to the last race. Everybody is pumped about it. It always helps when you drive for A.J. I'm just honored to be involved with A.J. and the IRL." (after practice): "We're gonna be good. It was a good session for us, even though we didn't get in many laps. There's more time now and we're going to pick up on our speed. The cooling conditions are going to make everybody go faster because they'll keep the motors running cooler and it gives you more downforce. I still have a pretty good push in the car and I really feel good about everything. I really think I can get a whole lot more out of it. There's not a lot of practice here so you've got to get it on quick. It's all for qualifying and the race. You try to get your qualifying setup, then you have to work on your race setup. Right now, we're right in between. We're just trying to find a happy medium, and we're going to be fine."
TONY STEWART (after practice): "It's just practice. It doesn't pay anything. We're just running both cars to make sure everything is okay. We'll try to go faster next session. If I didn't have any changes to make, I'd be ready to qualify. Everything is different this year. We've got different cars and different motors."
ROBBIE BUHL: "The car feels great. We went out first in the backup car, then came back with the primary car. We never got much running to play with the car for speed, but both cars feel very comfortable. The next session, we'll work on the speed. With the crashes and the yellow, we never got to really run hard for speed. So we'll do that later. This place is just beautiful. I think Tony and Arie are going to be our biggest concerns."