IRL: Phoenix qualifying report

PHOENIX, March 22, 1997 (AP) - Tony Stewart knows the drill _ a promising start, a stretch in the lead, and disappointment at the checkered flag. The budding Indy-car star, who always runs well but has yet to win, drove a G ...

PHOENIX, March 22, 1997 (AP) - Tony Stewart knows the drill _ a promising start, a stretch in the lead, and disappointment at the checkered flag. The budding Indy-car star, who always runs well but has yet to win, drove a G Force-Aurora to a 170.012-mph lap Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway to take the pole for the Phoenix 200 on Sunday. It was Stewart's second straight pole and third in seven Indy Racing League events. "You can come up with a million scenarios," he said about his chances in the race Sunday. "They're all good as far as I'm concerned. We just want to win." Rookie Jim Guthrie ran a 169.484 in a Dallara-Aurora and will start start on Stewart's outside shoulder. "I guess I'd liken it to the David and Goliath story. I'd like to slay the giant, maybe here, maybe at Indy," said Guthrie, whose low-budget Blueprint Racing team can afford just one of the $75,000 Oldsmobile engines and keeps rebuilding it to keep him racing. "This engine has 640 miles on it," he said. "I hope we can go 840." Both racers improved after adjustments following the first hot lap. Stewart's first time lap was 168.036 mph, and Guthrie's was 168.508. "I wish I knew all the changes my crew made," Stewart said. ``The last few we made had the car real comfortable." Scott Goodyear was third at 166.044. Two-time Phoenix champion Arie Luyendyk was fourth at 165.784, Buzz Calkins fifth in 164.032, and Robbie Buhl, Stewart's Team Menard teammate, qualified sixth at 163.964. All were in G Force-Auroras. Sam Schmidt slipped into the field ahead of eighth-place qualifier Eddie Cheever, who won the season-opening race two months ago in Orlando. Cheever's best lap was 163.510 mph. Roberto Guerrero had the best qualifying speed among three entrants driving cars with Nissan Infiniti engines - 11th at 163.080. Luyendyk, the Phoenix polesitter and winner last year, set a track record at 183.599 mph in the 1996 qualifying. But IRL teams were still using turbochargers, a distinguishing characteristic of the CART series. Turbocharging draws more air into the engine, boosting power and permitting higher speeds. Over the winter, Oldsmobile and Nissan began delivering naturally aspirated powerplants for a new generation of Indy cars demanded by the fledgling open-wheel series to widen the gap with CART. Stewart has led 388 laps in six IRL races. Luyendyk is next in IRL history with 158, about half the 296 laps Stewart has led this season alone. Stewart, 25, started seventh and finished second to Calkins in the IRL's inaugural race last year in Orlando. As he worked his way into the lead in Phoenix, an electrical problem knocked him out of the race. At Indianapolis, he led a rookie-record 31 laps from the start before an engine problem knocked him out. In the last two races of 1996, it was an electrical problem and an accident. At Orlando again, oil on his tires sent him into a spinout.

PHOENIX, March 22, 1997 (AP) - The lineup for tomorrow's Phoenix 200 Indy Racing League race following today's final qualifying session: P. (No) Driver Nat Chassis/engine Speed in mph ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. (2) Tony Stewart U.S. G Force-Aurora 170.012. 2. (27) Jim Guthrie U.S. Dallara-Aurora 169.484. 3. (6) Scott Goodyear CDN G Force-Aurora 166.044. 4. (5) Arie Luyendyk NED G Force-Aurora 165.784. 5. (12) Buzz Calkins U.S. G Force-Aurora 164.032. 6. (3) Robbie Buhl U.S. G Force-Aurora 163.964. 7. (16) Sam Schmidt U.S. Dallara-Aurora 163.837. 8. (51) Eddie Cheever U.S. G Force-Aurora 163.510. 9. (22) Marco Greco BRA Dallara-Aurora 163.495. 10. (4) Kenny Brack SWE G Force-Aurora 163.436. 11. (21) Roberto Guerrero COL Dallara-Infiniti 163.080. 12. (18) John Paul Jr U.S. Dallara-Aurora 162.896. 13. (30) Jeret Schroeder U.S. G Force-Aurora 162.631. 14. (91) Buddy Lazier U.S. Dallara-Infiniti 162.543. 15. (14) Davey Hamilton U.S. G Force-Aurora 162.448. 16. (33) Fermin Velez ESP Dallara-Aurora 161.907. 17. (10) Mike Groff U.S. G Force-Infiniti 159.858. 18. (50) Billy Roe U.S. Dallara-Aurora 158.940. 19. (40) Jack Miller U.S. Dallara-Aurora 158.040. 20. (77) Stephan Gregoire FRA G Force-Aurora 154.939. 21. (1) Scott Sharp U.S. G Force-Aurora No speed. 22. (17) Alfonso Giaffone BRA Dallara-Aurora No speed.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Jeret Schroeder , Roberto Guerrero , Kenny Brack , Billy Roe , Sam Schmidt , Fermin Velez , John Paul , Jack Miller