IRL: Charlotte Friday Practice Story Charlotte, NC (July 23, 1998) - Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams took to the track in final preparatations for Saturday night's second annual VisionAire 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It took Tony Stewart...
IRL: Charlotte Friday Practice Story
Charlotte, NC (July 23, 1998) - Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams took to the track in final preparatations for Saturday night's second annual VisionAire 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It took Tony Stewart only six laps in this evening's final practice session to exceed his record-setting pole speed from yesterday. Stewart's lap of 221.429 mph was almost a full mile per hour faster than yesterday's qualifying record of 220.498 mph.
High temperatures in the Charlotte area kept several teams from practicing in the heat of the day, when ambient temperature was 100 degrees and track temperature was 134 degrees.
Ron Hemelgarn, Buddy Lazier's car owner, said "We would have just confused ourselves in that heat...we'll just go out in the next session when it's cooler."
Dick Simon, Marco Greco's team manager, said "There was nothing to learn in the heat of the day that we didn't learn yesterday. We'd rather do our full-load run in the evening when the track cools down."
Since ambient temperatures during the afternoon practice session would not reflect race conditions, pole sitter Stewart was content to practice in his backup car. "We don't want to put a lot of miles on the primary car," said team manager Larry Curry, "so the IRL said we could run the backup in this session. We'll have the primary back out this evening."
Jonathan Byrd Cunningham Racing LLC took also sent driver John Paul Jr out in their backup. "We've been having a bit of engine problems with the primary car, so the IRL allowed us to take out the backup car just to check it out," said co-owner Byrd.
Davey Hamilton was happy that he had been training under the guidance of Baltimore Ravens trainer Jerry Simmons. "I feel pretty good despite the heat. It's an easy cause for fatigue. The reason I went to the trainer was to help the team long-term, and it's paying off here already."
Mark Dismore was happy that the race itself would be held at night. "I'd be a liar if I said otherwise", said Dismore. "Thank God it will be at night. I think everyone in those cars would agree."
Ryan Hampton won the 30 lap U.S. Formula Ford 2000 race held today on the 1.6 mile modified oval. Hampton passed Andy Lally with two laps to go when the caution was shown for a crash involving Larry Foyt and Robby McGehee in the chicane. Lally finished second, followed by David Besnard, Sam Hornish Jr. and Steve Riker in fifth.
Tony Stewart won tonight's 50 lap USAC National Midget race held on the 1/4 mile oval.
Ken Plotkin - Motorsport News International Contributing to this story was David Reininger
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