Dover, DE (July 18, 1998) - Tony Stewart continued to set the pace at Dover Downs International Speedway today. He set the fastest lap in this morning's practice session with a time of 19.479 seconds, at a speed of 184.814 mph. Stewart was first...

Dover, DE (July 18, 1998) - Tony Stewart continued to set the pace at Dover Downs International Speedway today. He set the fastest lap in this morning's practice session with a time of 19.479 seconds, at a speed of 184.814 mph. Stewart was first in line to qualify, setting a new official track record at the Monster Mile of 19.438 seconds, 185.204 mph. Stewart's speed eclipses the previous record of 155.898 mph set by Rusty Wallace in May of this year. Stewart's pole speed was also the fastest ever on a one mile oval by an IRL car.

"Larry Curry and these guys are responsible for the car," said Stewart. "I just pointed it. I'd like to say I was worth three or four tenths, but it was these guys who did it."

Joining Stewart on the front row is Davey Hamilton, in the Reebok/Nienhouse Motorsports G-Force Aurora, at a speed of 182.482 mph. While the differential between the first and second qualifiers is the largest since IRL adopted its current formula, the entire starting field is separated by just 1.146 seconds.

The morning's practice session was marred by a single car accident when Eliseo Salazar hit the turn four wall. Crew members were unsure whether the accident was caused by mechanical failure or if Salazar lost control after hitting a bump. Salazar's Riley & Scott chassis had suffered a broken right rear suspension component in yesterday's practice session.

Salazar was awake and alert, speaking to safety crews as they extricated him from his car, which came to rest along the front stretch inside wall. As of 3 p.m. today, Salazar was in the intensive care unit at Kent General Hospital in Dover awaiting surgery for his broken right leg and pelvis. He also suffered a broken right arm.

Fastest rookie in the field is Steve Knapp, at 181.525 mph. "The car is super-comfortable when it's flat out. Things are a lot better than yesterday. We made a chassis and engine change, and the whole package is great." Knapp benefitted from suspension adjustments provided by ISM Racing crew chief Mitch Davis.

After being fast in practice all weekend, Marco Greco failed to take the green flag during qualifying. Greco will start 21st as a provisional. Rounding out the field will be Scott Harrington, substituting for the injured Salazar in the Reebok Riley & Scott MK V.

David Reininger - Motorsport News International

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Series General
Drivers Tony Stewart , Eliseo Salazar , Davey Hamilton , Steve Knapp , Scott Harrington