IRL: Charlotte Oldsmobile race preview

OLDS ON A ROLL WITH 15th STRAIGHT POLE Oldsmobile Sets the Pace at 15th Consecutive IRL Race Concord, N.C.; July 23, 1998 - Seven years ago, Harry Gant's Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was the hottest machine on the NASCAR ...

OLDS ON A ROLL WITH 15th STRAIGHT POLE

Oldsmobile Sets the Pace at 15th Consecutive IRL Race

Concord, N.C.; July 23, 1998 - Seven years ago, Harry Gant's Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was the hottest machine on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit when it scored four straight wins. Now Oldsmobile has outdone even "Handsome Harry," winning 14 straight races in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League since the series introduced its new engine formula in January 1997.

The IRL Aurora V8 engine has been the driving force in Oldsmobile's transition from stock cars to Indy cars. Instead of the four-barrel carburetors and pushrods found in Winston Cup circles, the IRL Aurora V8 relies on electronic fuel injection, dual overhead camshafts, and multi-valve cylinder heads to produce over 700 horsepower.

Oldsmobile's bid for its 15th straight IRL win got off to a fast start tonight when Tony Stewart won the pole for the VisionAire 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Stewart, the polewinner at last year's inaugural IRL race in Charlotte, extended Oldsmobile's perfect IRL qualifying record to 15 straight poles with a record-setting 220.498 mph lap on the 1.5-mile speedway. Stewart eclipsed the 217.164 mph mark he set at last year's event to capture his fourth pole of the season and the ninth of his career.

Greg Ray, substituting for injured driver Billy Boat, qualified A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile-powered Dallara on the outside front row at 219.995 mph. Ray's teammate Kenny Brack, was the third fastest qualifier at 219.521 mph. Six drivers bettered the previous track record.

OLDSMOBILE QUALIFYING QUOTES: Tony Stewart, polewinner: "The cars are faster than last year because of the improvements in technology. The tires are better, the engine builders are making more power, and the crews are doing a better job.

"We came a long way today. We weren't really comfortable with the way the car was in the first practice. We made some big changes for the second session. From the second practice session to qualifying we did our usual routine and got some more speed out of it. These guys kept working on the car, and we got a little more speed each time. The car was good tonight."

Greg Ray, outside front row: "It feels good. We qualified on the front row at the Indianapolis 500 and finished second in Dallas. This is where I want to be. The view is a lot better up front, and this is what every driver shoots for. It's nice to have an opportunity to fill in for Billy in A.J. Foyt's car. We're happy with second place, but we really wanted to go for the pole. A.J. has been on the pole before, but I haven't. I'm ready for poles and race wins."

THE AURORA ADVANTAGE. Oldsmobile dominated qualifying for the VisionAire 500, with 21 of the 22 qualifiers (95%) using IRL Aurora V8 engines. The 16 fastest drivers relied on Oldsmobile power.

ENGINE BUILDER SCORE CARD. The four fastest qualifiers represent three different Oldsmobile engine builders: Team Menard (polewinner Tony Stewart); Katech, Inc. (Greg Ray, oustide front row and Kenny Brack, inside second row); and Brayton Engineering (Mark Dismore, outside second row).

AURORA POWER. A typical IRL Aurora V8 engine produces over 700 horsepower - about the same power as a Winston Cup engine - but does it with one-third less displacement. An IRL engine displaces 244 cubic inches, while a Winston Cup engine displaces 358 cubic inches. IRL engines rev higher (10,500 rpm vs. 8,800 rpm) and burn methanol fuel instead of gasoline.

TV TIME. The VisionAire 500 will be televised live on TBS on Saturday night, July 25, at 9:00 p.m. EDT.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Ray , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Kenny Brack , Harry Gant