Contact: Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AURORA V8 WINS SIXTH STRAIGHT IRL POLE Oldsmobile Sweeps Top 18 Spots, Powers 22 of 23 Qualifiers Concord, N.C.; July 24, 1997 -- On the...
Contact: Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AURORA V8 WINS SIXTH STRAIGHT IRL POLE
Oldsmobile Sweeps Top 18 Spots, Powers 22 of 23 Qualifiers
Concord, N.C.; July 24, 1997 -- On the eve of the Indy Aurora V8's six-month anniversary in Indy Racing League competition, Tony Stewart put Team Menard's Aurora-powered G-Force Indy car on the pole for the inaugural VisionAire 500 in qualifying today at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Stewart extended the Indy Aurora V8's perfect record in Indy Racing League qualifying to six straight poles since the series introduced its 4.0-liter engine formula in the season-opening Indy 200 at Walt Disney World on January 25.
Stewart set the pace with a fast lap of 217.164 mph on the high-banked 1.5-mile oval, eclipsing the 185.759 mph track record set by NASCAR stock car driver Ward Burton in 1994 by more than 31 mph. Stewart previously put the Indy Aurora V8 on the pole in Orlando, Phoenix, and Fort Worth, while Arie Luyendyk was the polesitter for the Indianapolis 500 and Scott Sharp won on the pole at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
"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."
Stewart was the second driver to make a qualifying attempt, running his pole-winning speed with the thermometer at a steamy 88 degrees. "The hotter the air is, the less drag the car has," Stewart explained. "The engine also has less power when it's hot. The way our car is set up, the horsepower we lost was offset by what we gained with the thinner air."
Arie Luyendyk secured the outside front row starting position with a 214.524 mph lap. "I was able to go flat-out all the way around," Luyendyk reported. "I had a little bit of push in the car that might have cost me some speed. We changed engines yesterday and qualified with our race engine. I'm really happy with this motor; I think it will be a good one for the race."
Twenty-one of the 22 qualifiers -- including the 18 fastest drivers -- used the 4.0-liter Indy Aurora V8. Cunningham-Byrd Racing, the latest team to convert to Oldsmobile, qualified driver Mike Groff 22nd in his first race with Aurora power. The lone Infiniti driver in the field qualified 18th.
Although Oldsmobile is a newcomer in Indy car racing, Oldsmobile's racing roots run deep in the South. The original Rocket V8 -- the first mass-produced high-compression engine -- launched Oldsmobile into the forefront of NASCAR stock car racing in the early days. Olds won six of nine Grand National races in 1949, and 20 of 41 in 1951. Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500 in an Olds in 1959, and Richard Petty scored an Olds victory at Daytona 20 years later. In NASCAR's "modern era," Rob Moroso and Bobby Labonte both won Busch Grand National championships in Oldsmobiles. Harry Gant's Olds was a standout in Winston Cup, winning four straight races in 1991. Oldsmobile left NASCAR at the end of the 1992 season when General Motors restructured its motorsports program.
The inaugural VisionAire 500, the second Indy car race of the modern era to be run at night, is scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 26. The tape-delayed telecast will begin at 1:00 pm EDT on Sunday, July 27, on CBS.
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VISIONAIRE 500 STARTING LINEUP
Driver Entrant Engine Speed Row 1 1. Tony Stewart Team Menard Aurora 217.164 mph 2. Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing Aurora 214.524 Row 2 3. Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Ent. Aurora 212.440 4. Davey Hamilton A.J. Foyt Ent. Aurora 212.398 Row 3 5. Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Aurora 211.948 6. Jim Guthrie Blueprint Racing Aurora 210.436 Row 4 7. Roberto Guerrero Pagan Racing Aurora 210.215 8. Scott Goodyear Treadway Racing Aurora 209.408 Row 5 9. Stephan Gregoire Chastain Motorsports Aurora 209.310 10. Mark Dismore Kelley Auto Group Aurora 209.237 Row 6 11. Marco Greco Galles Racing Aurora 209.116 12. Vincenzo Sospiri Team Scandia Aurora 209.035 Row 7 13. Jimmy Kite Team Scandia Aurora 208.776 14. Eliseo Salazar Team Scandia Aurora 208.567 Row 8 15. Eddie Cheever, Jr.FirstPlus Team CheeverAurora 208.406 16. Affonso Giaffone Chitwood Motorsports Aurora 207.333 Row 9 17. Greg Ray Knapp Motorsports Aurora 207.262 18. Kenny Brack Galles Racing Aurora 207.198 Row 10 19. Jack Miller Arizona Motorsports Infiniti 206.162 20. Robbie Groff McCormack Motorsports Aurora 205.105 Row 11 21. John Paul, Jr. PDM Racing Aurora 203.183 22. Mike Groff Byrd-Cunningham Aurora 198.624 Row 12 23. Sam Schmidt LP Racing Aurora no time
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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 24-Jul-1997