STEWART SENDS MESSAGE TO CHARLOTTE FIELD IN FINAL PRACTICE CONCORD, N.C., July 24, 1998 - Tony Stewart widened the gap between himself and the rest of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League field during the final practice before the VisionAire 500, ...
STEWART SENDS MESSAGE TO CHARLOTTE FIELD IN FINAL PRACTICE
CONCORD, N.C., July 24, 1998 - Tony Stewart widened the gap between himself and the rest of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League field during the final practice before the VisionAire 500, turning an unofficial track-record lap of 221.429 mph Friday evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Stewart set the track record of 220.498 while winning the PPG Pole on Thursday night in the Glidden-Menards Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Track records can only be set during qualifying and a race.
Kenny Brack was second fastest at 218.199 in the A.J. Foyt Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, more than 3 mph behind Stewart. Pep Boys IRL points leader Scott Sharp was third fastest at 217.374 in the Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.
Stewart won the pole by just .503 of a second over Greg Ray on Thursday night, but he took advantage of traffic on the 1.5-mile oval during the final practice to post the big speed.
"When we ran the 221 (mph), we were at half-tank, and we definitely had a good tow," said Larry Curry, Stewart's team manager. "The rest of the session we had full tanks, and we were by ourselves at 217.
"The car is good. Tony is happy. We're happy. We'll see if we can run 208 laps tomorrow."
The 208-lap, 312-mile VisionAire 500 starts at 9 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. It's the seventh of 11 races in the Pep Boys IRL this season.
Donnie Beechler was the only driver who didn't participate in either the afternoon or evening practice. He rushed home to Springfield, Ill., early Friday morning for the birth of his first child, a daughter. Shae Marie Beechler weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces. Donnie Beechler will return to Charlotte Saturday afternoon.
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