For Immediate Release
KITE LEADS WAY FOR SECOND DAY IN IRL TEST HAMILTON, PAUL JR. INJURED
LAS VEGAS, September 5, 1997 - Rookie Jimmy Kite led the way for the second straight day in the Indy Racing League's open test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, turning a lap at 203.336 miles an hour Friday to edge Eliseo Salazar and Arie Luyendyk.
"Actually, we were strictly tire testing today and were trying to dial a push into it," Kite said. "I looked down expecting to see 200 and boy, was I surprised.
"I'm very happy with the test. I hadn't been back in one of these cars since Loudon, so every lap boosts my confidence level back to where it was before. I'm Looking forward to coming back here in a couple of weeks and hopefully winning, or at least finishing my first race."
The session ended two days of testing at the 1 1/2-mile oval in preparation for the Oct. 8-11 Las Vegas 500k, the final race of the 1996-97 Indy Racing League season. In all, 21 drivers turned 2,616 laps in the sessions.
At 6:34 p.m. (PDT) Friday, Davey Hamilton spun 180 degress in turn 4 and hit the outside wall with the left side. Hamilton was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas awake and alert with a concussion, according to Dr. Henry Bock, IRL medical director. The car sustained extensive left-side damage. At 9:00 p.m., Dr. Bock said Hamilton would be admitted for overnight observation.
At 9:14 p.m. (PDT) Friday, John Paul Jr. spun 180 degrees in Turn 3 and hit the outside wall. Paul Jr. was transported by ambulance to the University Medical Center awake and alert for further evaluation of a concussion. The car sustained left-side damage.
Friday's session was a tire test for both Goodyear and Firestone.
PAUL LAURITZEN (IRL Goodyear operations manager): "We brought the control tire, which is a very conservative tire that we use on all the teams to establish a baseline. That's what we did last night. We were very pleased. We had four out of the top five fastest times, including Jimmy Kite, who was almost two miles an hour faster than anyone else. We want to improve on it for the race. That's why we're here."
DWAYNE JOYNER (Firestone senior project engineer): "We're mainly here to pick an option tire for the race. We've pretty much got the primary settled on. We tested here a few weeks ago but now the conditions will be closer to what we're going to race at. Since the conditions will be closer now to race time, we'll obviously use this information to decide on an option."
Shelby American and Treadway Racing announced Friday a joint venture in the Indy Racing League which will establish two headquarters for the team - one in Indianapolis and one at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
**** Unofficial Top Lap Speeds of the Day from IRL Timing & Scoring
:------Session-----: R Car Driver C/E/T Laps Time Speed 1 33 Kite, Jimmy D/A/G 79 26.557 203.336 2 7 Salazar, Eliseo D/A/G 72 26.596 203.038 3 5 Luyendyk, Arie G/A/F 129 26.674 202.444 4 21 Guerrero, Roberto D/A/G 61 26.697 202.270 5 91 Lazier, Buddy D/A/F 90 26.758 201.809 6 1 Boat, Billy G/A/G 44 26.783 201.620 7 1T Boat, Billy D/A/G 44 26.835 201.230 8 27 Guthrie, Jim D/A/F 81 26.909 200.676 9 3 Buhl, Robbie G/A/F 109 27.083 199.387 10 12 Calkins, Buzz G/A/G 71 27.136 198.998 11 7 Gregoire, Stephan D/A/G 57 27.223 198.362 12 14 Hamilton, Davey G/A/G 6 27.470 196.578 13 22 Sospiri, Vincenzo D/A/G 32 27.477 196.528 14 18 Paul Jr., John D/A/G 126 27.662 195.214 15 91T Unser, Johnny D/I/F 18 28.360 190.409 16 28 Dismore, Mark D/A/G 10 28.620 188.679 17 10T Durant, Paul G/A/F 10 33.835 159.598 Total Laps: 1039