IRL: Las Vegas Day 2 - Trackside Notes

DAY 2 -- Thursday, October 9,. 1997 The 31 cars bidding for starting spots in the Las Vegas 500k is an IRL record outside of the past two Indianapolis 500 entry lists. The previous mark was 29 cars here last year, 28 formed the starting...

DAY 2 -- Thursday, October 9,. 1997

The 31 cars bidding for starting spots in the Las Vegas 500k is an IRL record outside of the past two Indianapolis 500 entry lists. The previous mark was 29 cars here last year, 28 formed the starting field. "I'm sure we're going to start more than that (28)," said Leo Mehl, vice president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and executive director of the League. "I'm sure you can say that it's the biggest field in the history of the IRL outside of Indianapolis. I think we'll have 35 cars in the future at our races." New teams making their IRL debuts here are Metro Racing Systems, with owner/driver Stan Wattles; Nienhouse Motorsports, with rookie Mike Shank; and IZ Racing, Inc.-Zali Racing Corporation, with Tyce Carlson. *** Qualifying positions for 38 cars were drawn this morning at the Fremont Street Experience -- for 31 car-driver combinations plus seven backups.

*** Today is Vincenzo Sospiri's 31st birthday. *** In keeping with the tradition of the city of lights, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has announced its sponsorship of a special drawing that could double the $100,000 winning purse at the Las Vegas 500k After the completion of the race, the winning driver will have a chance to double the winner's purse through one of Las Vegas' famous games of chance. The winner will spin a big wheel which is labeled with the number of each car in the field. If the wheel lands on that driver's number, the $100,000 will be doubled. "We are excited to be part of this special event surrounding the Las Vegas 500k," said Manuel J. Cortez, president of the LVCVA. "In the spirit of Las Vegas we are offering a unique opportunity for one of the drivers to double the winner's prize. With everything this race has to offer, we fully anticipate a great experience for drivers and spectators alike."

*** The crew for Metro Racing Systems and owner/driver Stan Wattles has come together in interesting ways. Greg Wattles, a cousin of Stan from nearby Henderson, had not met Stan prior to last year's Las Vegas 500k. Greg, a local sprint-car racer, and Stan got to know each other and Greg will serve as Stan's spotter for the first time in the Las Vegas 500k. Tom Moore, who will serve as the deadman valve operator on the team's refueling rig for the first time, got to know team members through chatting about racing on the Internet. Also, through Greg, Mashada Computers donated computers to the New Horizons Academy, the school that Stan hosted at the track at a recent private test.

*** Among drivers on hand in the Las Vegas garage and pit area today are Mike Groff, who led the IRL point standings earlier in the season and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Gordon Johncock. Groff and his wife, Pam, are the new parents of Holden Michael, born Sept. 30.

*** There may be some race fans at Nellis Air Force Base across Las Vegas Boulevard or the Las Vegas Motor Speedway may just be a good landmark. Anyway, when the control tower advises military pilots on landing routes, they radio "Red Mountain Break" (for the east) and "Racetrack Break" (for the west).

*** The #97 Dallara/Aurora of Greg Ray sported a new sponsor today, Lady Luck Hotel & Casino.

***

IRL Practice Notes:

Track temperature is 86 degrees, according to Goodyear tire engineers. 5:50 p.m. -- GREEN for first group. 5:55 p.m. -- #3 Buhl turned a lap at 202.779, fastest of group. 6:01 p.m. -- #3 Buhl turned a lap at 204.491, fastest of weekend. 6:03 p.m. -- YELLOW, #51 Cheever smoking on the backstretch. 6:08 p.m. -- GREEN. 6:10 p.m. -- #7 Salazar turned a lap at 203.405, second fastest of group. 6:20 p.m. -- End of group. 6:25 p.m. -- GREEN for second group. 6:28 p.m. -- #5 Luyendyk turned a lap at 204.391, second fastest of session. Billy Boat is out in the #1 Dallara that was involved in an accident Wednesday. 6:30 p.m. -- Track temperature was 81 degrees, according to Goodyear tire engineers. 6:34 p.m. -- YELLOW, #14 Hamilton stalled in third turn. Crew was replacing faulty rotor after car was towed to pits. 6:37 p.m. -- GREEN. 6:39 p.m. -- #4 Brack turned a lap at 204.662, fastest of the weekend. #5 Luyendyk turned a lap at 205.495, fastest of the weekend. 6:40 p.m. -- YELLOW, #6 Goodyear tow-in. 6:44 p.m. -- GREEN. 6:46 p.m. -- #1 Boat turned a lap at 205.793, fastest of weekend. 6:51 p.m. -- YELLOW, #9 Unser spraying fluid. End of session. 7 p.m. -- Track temperature was 79 degrees, according to Goodyear tire engineers. Crew changing engines on #51 Cheever.

Davey Hamilton won the opening event of race week, claiming the $550 top prize in an IRL Drivers Video Poker Tournament this afternoon at the Four Queens Casino & Hotel in the Fremont Street Experience. Mike Shank won $225 for second, John Paul Jr. got $125 for third and Las Vegan Sam Schmidt picked up $100 for fourth.

DAVEY HAMILTON (5:30 p.m.): "Yeah, we're good. We replaced the motor but it's definitely different again here. It's warmer and the wind has picked up. So we'll see what happens." (about he and Stewart being close together): "It's really true. No matter whether it's in a race or in the pit or even if we garage together, they're always right next to one another. We finish together and we seem to start together. He's probably tired of trying to shake me and I'm tired of trying to shake him. We're friends with two different good teams. We each do our own thing and have our own strategies. We have two totally different combinations. We're just both doing the best we can with what we've got. It's good we're both having a good year." (about his composure): "I'm just used to doing this a lot. I do it 60-70 times a year. You just can't get used to it. I enjoy this and I have fun. As long as I stay competitive, I'm going to keep driving. I just learn to lay back and have fun. A.J. is doing well, but there's a lot of pressure on us this weekend. There's a lot on the line. He (A.J.) told me we need to finish the race, and go hard. He's a great owner and I hope to bring him one (a championship)." KENNY BRACK: "The car was running strong today. We had some engine performance during yesterday's practice, but we made some adjustments. The balance is good on the car and now it's running quicker."

LAS VEGAS 500k QUALIFYING CHRONOLOGY TIME QUAL CAR DRIVER 1ST LAP 2ND LAP SPEED ATTP NO. TIME SPEED TIME SPEED RANK

Track temperature was 75 degrees, according to Goodyear tire engineers. 8:05 1 70 Marco Greco 26.572 203.221 26.715 202.134 1 Track inspection after small fire occurred on last lap for #70 Greco 8:11 2 27 Jim Guthrie 26.919 200.602 27.801 194.238 2 8:14 3 12 Buzz Calkins 27.382 197.210 27.200 198.529 3 8:17 4 17 Affonso Giaffone 26.612 202.916 26.618 202.870 2 8:19 5 40 Dr. Jack Miller 27.240 198.238 26.881 200.885 3 8:23 6 3 Robbie Buhl 26.355 204.895 26.332 205.074 1 8:26 7 24 Billy Roe 27.575 195.830 27.418 196.951 7 8:28 8 18 John Paul Jr. 27.593 195.702 27.317 197.679 7 8:32 9 95 Tyce Carlson 27.320 197.657 27.273 197.998 7 8:35 10 19 Stan Wattles 27.714 194.847 27.336 197.542 9 8:38 11 7 Eliseo Salazar 26.391 204.615 26.429 204.321 2 8:41 12 10 Paul Durant 27.220 198.384 26.975 200.185 7 8:45 13 23 Mike Shank 28.362 190.396 28.137 191.918 13 8:47 14 4 Kenny Brack 26.775 201.681 26.655 202.589 5 8:51 15 5 Arie Luyendyk 26.425 204.352 26.411 204.460 3 8:53 16 77 Stephan Gregoire 27.045 199.667 26.816 201.372 7 8:58 17 91 Buddy Lazier 26.701 202.240 26.752 201.854 7 9 p.m. 18 35 Jeff Ward 26.613 202.680 26.820 201.342 6 Track temperature is 72 degrees, according to Firestone tire engineers. 9:02 19 22 Vincenzo Sospiri 27.003 199.978 26.790 201.568 9 9:05 20 14 Davey Hamilton 26.373 204.755 26.303 205.300 1 9:07 21 33 Jimmy Kite 26.502 203.758 26.552 203.375 5 9:11 22 30 Robbie Groff 27.566 195.893 27.574 195.837 21 9:13 23 28 Mark Dismore 26.621 202.847 26.543 203.443 6 9:16 24 99 Sam Schmidt 27.602 195.638 27.241 198.231 18 9:18 25 21 Roberto Guerrero 26.933 200.498 26.904 200.714 15 9:21 26 1 Billy Boat 26.272 205.542 26.035 207.413 1 9:24 27 2 Tony Stewart 26.327 205.113 26.363 204.833 3 9:27 28 97 Greg Ray 27.022 199.837 27.065 199.520 20 9:48 29 6 Scott Goodyear 26.781 201.635 26.537 203.489 8 9:54 51 Eddie Cheever Jr. did not take flag

Track temperature was 73 degrees at end of qualifying, according to Goodyear tire engineers.

--This is Billy Boat's first IRL pole. He is the seventh different pole winner in 13 IRL races. Boat's pole marked Goodyear's fourth pole during the 1996-97 IRL season, joining Richie Hearn, Scott Sharp and Marco Greco with the tire company. --This is Tony Stewart's 10th top-five start in 13 races. --This is Robbie Buhl's fourth top-five start this eason. --This is Arie Luyendyk's 11th top-10 start in 13 races. --This is Jimmy Kite's third top-10 start in four races. --This is Davey Hamilton's best career IRL start. His best previous was fourth at Charlotte. --This is Scott Goodyear's eighth straight top-10 IRL start.

SCHEDULE NOTE: The Friday practice has been rescheduled for 6-6:30 p.m. The autograph session scheduled for Fremont Street Experience remains scheduled 8-9:30 p.m.

END THURSDAY NOTES

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Guerrero , Jimmy Kite , Kenny Brack , Richie Hearn , Billy Roe , Sam Schmidt , Tyce Carlson , Stan Wattles , Gordon Johncock , John Paul , Vincenzo Sospiri , Michael Holden , Jack Miller