PHOENIX, March 20, 1998 - Defending Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart will try to capture the pole for the Dura-Lube 200 for the second consecutive year Saturday after posting the fastest lap during practice Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Stewart's best lap around the 1-mile oval was 21.058 seconds, 170.956 mph in the Glidden/Menard G Force/Aurora. The speed was faster than his track-record of 170.012 set last year while taking the pole for this event. Qualifying for the second Pep Boys IRL event of the year starts at noon (MST) Saturday, as 32 drivers will compete for 28 starting spots in Sunday's 200-lap race, which starts at 2 p.m. (MST).

"The time differentials are getting tighter and tighter," Stewart said. "It's starting to look like a NASCAR weekend. Only the cars don't have fenders. "It's forcing you to get everything out of the car. It used to be we were looking for tenths of seconds. Now we're looking for hundredths of seconds."

Billy Boat, racing at his hometown track, was second-fastest at 169.972 in the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. His teammate, Kenny Brack, was third-fastest at 169.555 in the Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.

The winners of the last two Indianapolis 500's, Buddy Lazier and Arie Luyendyk, tied for the eighth-fastest speed at 167.691 mph. Lazier won at Indy in 1996, Luyendyk in 1997.

Rookie J.J. Yeley, from Phoenix, was 11th fastest at 167.193 in the Quaker State Menards SRS Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Yeley is trying to make his Pep Boys IRL debut Sunday.

Defending race champion Jim Guthrie was 17th fastest at 166.543 in the Team Tabasco ISM Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear.

DURA-LUBE 200 TOP 10 PRACTICE TIMES, SPEEDS Pos. No. Driver Chassis/Engine/Tire Time Speed 1 1 Tony Stewart G Force/Aurora/Firestone 21.058 170.956 2 11 Billy Boat Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.180 169.972 3 14 Kenny Brack Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.232 169.555 4 15 Eliseo Salazar Riley & Scott/Aurora/Goodyear 21.320 168.856 5 3 Robbie Buhl G Force/Aurora/Firestone 21.338 168.713 6 8 Scott Sharp Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.371 168.453 7 30 Raul Boesel G Force/Aurora/Goodyear 21.417 168.091 8 91 Buddy Lazier Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.468 167.691 9 5 Arie Luyendyk G Force/Aurora/Firestone 21.468 167.691 10 6 Davey Hamilton G Force/Aurora/Goodyear 21.525 167.247