IRL TESTING AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY TRACKSIDE REPORT, THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 1996
At 8:17 a.m., Richie Hearn turned a lap at 218.385 miles per hour in the Della Penna Motorsports car, fastest of the week. At 8:45 a.m., Roberto Guerrero turned a lap at 218.703 in a Pagan Racing car, fastest of the week. At 9:53 a.m., Scott Sharp turned a lap at 219.005 in an A.J. Foyt Enterprises car, fastest of the week. At 10:39 a.m., Buddy Lazier turned a lap at 219.601 in the Hemelgarn Racing/Delta Faucet car, fastest of the week.
The track opened for practice at 6:35 a.m. Tony Stewart was first out in the #30 Team Menard car and recorded a lap at 211.144 at 6:40 a.m., fastest of the day. When told the lap was believed to be the fastest ever run before 7 a.m., Stewart wasn't enthused. "I'm not excited about doing ANYTHING before seven in the morning," he said with a smile.
Lee Kunzman, general manager of Hemelgarn Racing, recalled the final laps of the Indianapolis 500 this morning.
"Ronnie (Dawes, engineer for Buddy Lazier) was on the radio with Buddy all day calming him down, telling him, 'We're on the plan, we're on the plan,'" Kunzman said. "About Lap 186 or 187, he told Buddy, 'Show us what you got.' Buddy said, 'O-o-o-KAY.' He'd been waiting to hear that all day." Lazier, as history shows, then gathered up the leaders and won the Indianapolis 500.
Andy Michner passed the second phase of his two-phase USAC refresher test this morning in a car owned by Brickell Racing and prepared by PDM Racing. Rob Wilson completed his two- phase refresher this morning in the #14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises car.
Sprint-car veteran Dave Blaney took his first-ever laps in an Indianapolis car this morning, all in the Brickell/PDM car. In less than an hour, he had completed all but five laps of the 40- lap USAC driver's test before the engine blew, ending driver's tests for the week. "I guess there were no surprises," Blaney said. "I had ridden around the race track with Johnny Rutherford and Tony Stewart and they kind of told me what to expect. I had never driven one (an Indy car). I wasn't too comfortable just sitting in it. It's a lot different than what I'm used to. It's just a different race car. I'm still committed to sprint cars. It would have o be a good opportunity to do it. I'm sure Ted Johnson at the World of Outlaws would work with us on scheduling. That would give several of us an opportunity to do it. I grew up in sprint-car racing and that's where we've been trying to excel. This has been out of reach. We may have the opportunity now." Blaney said he had driven an ARCA stock car on the 1 1/2-mile oval at Atlanta previously. "This doesn't feel that big in these cars," he said. "They scoot around here pretty good." Phil Casey, the IRL operations coordinator, said the League planned to try to have two cars available for driver's tests at the IRL open test July 23-25 at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Entry invitations for the True Value 200 Aug. 18 at New Hampshire International Speedway, opening race of the 1996-97 Indy Racing League season, were distributed to Indy Racing League entrants at a meeting Wednesday night in Las Vegas and also sent to all other potential entrants this morning.
At 10:30 a.m., the temperature was 80 degrees.