IRL: Charlotte Aurora notes

Contact: Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications 408-761-2201 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AURORA V8 RACES TO SIXTH STRAIGHT VICTORY IN CHARLOTTE Oldsmobile Dominates Inaugural...

Contact: Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications 408-761-2201

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AURORA V8 RACES TO SIXTH STRAIGHT VICTORY IN CHARLOTTE

Oldsmobile Dominates Inaugural Indy Car Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Sixth Pole and Sixth Consecutive IRL Win

Concord, N.C.; July 26, 1997 -- Oldsmobile's production-based Indy Aurora V8 engine continued its domination of Indy Racing League competition as Buddy Lazier drove Hemelgarn Racing's Aurora-powered Dallara Indy car to victory today in the inaugural VisionAire 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Oldsmobile's sixth straight Indy car victory in 1997 spotlighted the performance, reliability, and efficiency of the Indy Aurora V8.

The Indy Aurora V8 powered the "Indy car invasion" into the heart of stock car country -- the first race for Indy-style cars in Charlotte since 1927. Racers using the Indy Aurora V8 swept the top 22 finishing positions and led every racing lap on the high-banked (24-degree) 1.5-mile quad-oval. The Indy Aurora V8 had a strong reliability record in the 500-kilometer (312-mile) race, with only three reported engine problems by teams using Oldsmobile engines. Thirteen cars were running at the finish -- all powered by Aurora V8s. Accidents eliminated three cars, but no drivers were injured.

An announced crowd of 73,039 spectators saw Lazier, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion, score his second career IRL victory in the series' debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The crowd roared its approval as the Indy cars raced three and four abreast at over 200 mph.

"The new format of cars and motors this year really lends itself to close racing," said Lazier, who switched to Aurora power at the Indianapolis 500. "You've got to fight for every inch. It makes for a good show."

Aurora racer Billy Boat was runner-up, and 1997 Indy 500 runner-up Scott Goodyear was third.

"We ran the engine flat-out lap after lap for the first part of the race," said Boat, who scored his second runner-up finish of the year in A.J. Foyt's Conseco Indy car. "I ran sixth gear most of the race, and then put it up in fifth at the end to try to catch Buddy, but I didn't have quite enough for him. Oldsmobile definitely builds a great motor."

Aurora racers led all 208 laps, topped by Tony Stewart who led 74 laps and took over the lead in the IRL Drivers Championship. Oldsmobile engines have now led every racing lap in IRL competition in 1997 -- a total of 1,165 laps (1,673 miles). Oldsmobile leads the IRL Manufacturers Championship with 66 points, the maximum number of points available.

Stewart, winner of the preceding event at Pikes Peak International Raceway, set the pace in qualifying at Charlotte with a fast lap of 217.164 mph. Stewart's pole-winning run eclipsed the 185.759 mph track record set by NASCAR stock car driver Ward Burton by more than 31 mph. It was the fourth pole of 1997 for Stewart and Team Menard.

"It's cool to be the first pole winner anywhere you go," said Stewart. "Every pole you get is special, but it's nice to do it at a track where you haven't raced before. There's a lot of history at this track."

Twenty-two of the 23 starters (96% of the field) used Indy Aurora V8 engines -- including the 18 fastest qualifiers. Cunningham-Byrd Racing, the latest team to switch to Oldsmobile, qualified driver Mike Groff 22nd on the grid in his first race with Aurora power. The lone Infiniti driver in the field qualified 19th and finished 23rd.

The next event for the Indy Aurora V8 will be the Pennzoil 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire, on August 17. The event will be televised live by ABC Sports at 3:00 p.m. EDT.

IRL VISIONAIRE 500 RESULTS

Driver              Entrant                Engine   Laps Status
1. Buddy Lazier     Hemelgarn Racing       Aurora   208  Running
2. Billy Boat       A.J. Foyt Ent.         Aurora   208  Running
3. Scott Goodyear   Treadway Racing        Aurora   207  Running
4. Affonso Giaffone Chitwood Motorsports   Aurora   206  Running
5. Kenny Brack      Galles Racing          Aurora   206  Running
6. Eddie Cheever    Team Cheever           Aurora   206  Running
7. Tony Stewart     Team Menard            Aurora   205  Running
8. Stephan Gregoire Chastain Motorsports   Aurora   202  Running
9. Marco Greco      Galles Racing          Aurora   202  Running 
10. Eliseo Salazar  Team Scandia           Aurora   200  Running 
11. John Paul, Jr.  PDM Racing             Aurora   198  Running
12. Jim Guthrie     Blueprint Racing       Aurora   197  Running
13. Robbie Groff    McCormack Motorsports  Aurora   189  Halfshaft
14. Mike Groff      Cunningham-Byrd Racing Aurora   176  Running
15. Jimmy Kite      Team Scandia           Aurora   163  Accident
16. Davey Hamilton  A.J. Foyt Ent.         Aurora   141  Accident
17. Roberto Guerrero Pagan Racing          Aurora   141  Accident 
18. Sam Schmidt     LP Racing              Aurora   114  Engine
19. Mark Dismore    Kelley Automotive Grp. Aurora   97   Engine
20. Vincenzo Sospiri Team Scandia          Aurora   70   Engine
21. Arie Luyendyk   Treadway Racing        Aurora   67   Handling
22. Greg Ray        Knapp Motorsport       Aurora   30   Electrical
23. Jack Miller     Arizona Motorsports    Infiniti 12   Electrical

Lap Leaders 1. Tony Stewart Aurora 74 laps 2. Buddy Lazier Aurora 58 3. Billy Boat Aurora 38 4. Roberto Guerrero Aurora 26 5. Jimmy Kit Aurora 11 6. Scott Goodyear Aurora 1

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 26-Jul-1997

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ward Burton , Tony Stewart , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Davey Hamilton , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Guerrero , Jimmy Kite , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , John Paul , Vincenzo Sospiri , A.J. Foyt , Jack Miller