INDIANAPOLIS, April 15, 1998 - USAC standout Andy Michner became became the seventh rookie driver eligible to participate in the 82nd Indianapolis 500 after passing the Refresher Program on Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Michner, who passed the Rookie Orientation Program at the Speedway in 1996, completed his refresher test in the Chitwood Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. He replaced Brian Tyler as the team's driver Tuesday.

Rain interrupted track activity twice Wednesday, but six drivers still turned 204 laps on the 2.5-mile oval.

Michner joined Donnie Beechler, Danny Drinan, Jimmy Kite, Steve Knapp, Robby Unser and J.J. Yeley as drivers who have passed either the ROP or Refresher Program since rookie testing started Tuesday.

Two-time USAC Silver Crown champion Jack Hewitt passed the first three phases of the ROP on Wednesday afternoon in the Crest Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone of Dr. Jack Miller, who will drive the car in May at the Speedway. Hewitt is eligible to finish the last phase during the inaugural Open Test on Thursday and Friday, said Brian Barnhart, IRL director of racing operations.

Stan Wattles also is eligible to finish the last phase of ROP during the Open Test, Barnhart said. Wattles completed the first three phases Tuesday, but rain and an engine change prevented him from finishing Wednesday.

Kite, driving the backup Team Scandia Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, turned the fastest lap of rookie testing, 217.286 mph, Wednesday afternoon.

The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 24. Pole Day is May 16; the final day of qualifying is May 17. PERFORMANCE HISTORY OF THE DA FROM ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM Car Driver C/E/T Laps Top Speed Phases Completed 7T Jimmy Kite D/A/G 29 217.286 Finished ROP Tues. 24 Danny Drinan D/A/G 11 213.863 Finished ROP Tues. 55 Steve Knapp G/A/G 40 211.025 Finished ROP Tues. 17 Andy Michner D/A/G 45 207.283 3-4 (Passed) 19 Stan Wattles R/A/G 30 206.379 1-3 (Tues.) 40 Jack Hewitt D/I/F 49 205.353 1-3 Key: C- Chassis; E-Engines; T-Tires; D-Dallara; G-G Force; R-Riley & Scott; A-Aurora; F-Firestone; G-Goodyear ***