Oct 12, 1997
Las Vegas 500K - Race Recap & Wrap Up
Johnny Unser ran well in last night's Las Vegas 500K IRL race and finished in 19th position despite suffering several mechanical problems, including an engine failure which put him out of the race.
Unser began the race from 30th starting position as a provisional starter, after he was unable to participate in Thursday's qualifying session due to engine problems. He moved up quickly from the rear of the field, however, passing several cars for position in the first 25 laps. Soon after that, his problems began as the regulator failed in the electrical system, creating a need for frequent battery changes. The Hemelgarn Racing crew did an outstanding job performing the battery swaps, many times completing them while losing only a lap to the rest of the field. Despite the need for frequent pit stops, Johnny remained in contention for postion with several other cars, and had moved up into 18th place by lap 140. Unfortunately, an engine failure on lap 142 put him out of the race for good, and he finished in 19th position.
"The car felt great, it was really handling well out there, " said Unser following the race. "The guys on this Hemelgarn Team did a great job setting up the car for these conditions. We made some changes during the race, and the car just kept getting faster. If we hadn't had to stop so frequently, I think that we could have picked some more positions. It's too bad that we couldn't finish the race, but with the limited practice time that we had this week, I think that we still made a pretty good showing. "
The race was won by Eliseo Salazar, with Scott Goodyear and Robbie Buhl finishing 2nd & 3rd. Tony Stewart finished the race in 10th position, but wrapped up the IRL series championship. Johnny Unser did not participate in 3 races this year, but still finished 24th in driver points for the year.
The 1997 IRL season is now over, with the 1998 season set to begin in January with the Disney 200 at Walt Disney World. Johnny continues to look for additional sponsorship, but hopes to be able to put together a package for a full season in 1998.
We will have additional updates on Johnny Unser at www.unser-racing.com and posted to our mailing list throughout the off-season. We will also have exclusive Unser pictures from the Las Vegas 500K posted soon, courtesy of Ranch Exit Films.
Listed below are the final results from the LV 500K:
1. (5) Eliseo Salazar, Chile, Dallara Oldsmobile, 208.
2. (8) Scott Goodyear, Carmel, Ind., G-Force Oldsmobile, 208.
3. (4) Robbie Buhl, Miami, G-Force Oldsmobile, 208.
4. (19) Jim Guthrie, Albuquerque, N.M., Dallara Oldsmobile, 208.
5. (9) Mark Dismore, Greenfield, Ind., Dallara Oldsmobile, 208.
6. (7) Jimmy Kite, Stockbridge, Ga., Dallara Oldsmobile, 208.
7. (2) Davey Hamilton, Boise, Idaho, G-Force Oldsmobile, 207, running.
8. (25) Stan Wattles, Sewall's Point, Fla., G-Force Oldsmobile, 206, running.
9. (16) Stephan Gregoire, France, G-Force Oldsmobile, 204, running.
10. (10) Marco Greco, Brazil, G-Force Oldsmobile, 204, running.
11. (3) Tony Stewart, Indianapolis, G-Force Oldsmobile, 204, running.
12. (24) John Paul, Jr., West Palm Beach, Fl., Dallara Oldsmobile, 201, running.
13. (26) Billy Roe, Gilbert, Ariz., Dallara Oldsmobile, 198, running.
14. (18) Roberto Guerrero, S.J. Capistrano,Ca, Dallara Oldsmobile, 197,accident.
15. (11) Affonso Giaffone, Brazil, Dallara Oldsmobile, 193, running.
16. (28) Mike Shank, Columbus, Ohio, Riley Oldsmobile, 191, running.
17. (12) Jeff Ward, S.J. Capistrano, Ca, Dallara Oldsmobile, 168, overheating
18. (27) Robbie Groff, Atlanta, G-Force Oldsmobile, 168, running.
19. (30) Johnny Unser, Sun Valley, Idaho, Dallara Nissan, 142, engine.
20. (13) Kenny Brack, Sweden, G-Force Oldsmobile, 139, suspension.
21. (29) Eddie Cheever Jr., Tampa, Fla., G-Force Oldsmobile, 129, engine.
22. (15) Vincenzo sospiri, Monaco, Dallara Oldsmobile, 114, mechanical.
23. (1) Billy LBoat, Phoenix, Dallara Oldsmobile, 97, electrical.
24. (23) Tyce Carlson, Indianapolis, Dallara Oldsmobile, 96, ignition.
25. (6) Arie Luyendyk, Scottsdale, Ariz., G-Force Oldsmobile, 72, engine.
26. (31) Paul Durant, Manteca, Calif., G-Force Oldsmobile, 62, mechanical.
27. (22) Sam Schmidt, Las Vegas, Dallara Oldsmobile, 60, accident.
28. (21) Buzz Calkins, Denver, G-Force Oldsmobile, 60, accident.
29. (17) Jack Miller, Carmel, Ind., Dallara Oldsmobile, 59, accident.
30. (20) Greg Ray, Plano, Texas, Dallara Oldsmobile, 35, accident.
31. (14) Buddy Lazier, Vail, Co., Dallara Oldsmobile, 4, mechanical.
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