Charlotte, NC, July 24, 1997 As predicted last night, Wednesday's torrential rains ended in the early morning hours and business at Charlotte Motor Speedway carried on. IRL practice ran as planned, from 3:45 to 5:30. Tony Stewart picked ...
Charlotte, NC, July 24, 1997
As predicted last night, Wednesday's torrential rains ended in the early morning hours and business at Charlotte Motor Speedway carried on.
IRL practice ran as planned, from 3:45 to 5:30. Tony Stewart picked up where he left off Tuesday, and posted a fastest time of 24.894 seconds (216.920 mph). Stewart also posted the second fastest practice time of 25.255 seconds (213.819 mph) in his backup car. He was followed by Arie Luyendyk, Billy Boat, Buddy Lazier, Davey Hamilton, and Roberto Guerrero, all over 211 mph.
Qualifying ran on schedule and smoothly from 7:00 pm through 8:30 pm. The first driver on the track, Arie Luyendyk in the #5 Treadway Racing-Wavefore Sprint PCS G Force Aurora posted a first lap speed of 213.904 mph, shattering Ward Burton's prior CMS record of 185.759 mph by over 28 mph. The Flying Dutchman broke his own record on his next lap, setting a speed of 214.524 mph.
Second driver out was Tony Stewart in the #2 Glidden/Menards/Special G Force Aurora. Stewart's second lap of 217.164 mph captured the pole, leaving Luyendyk on the outside of the front row. Stewart's second lap was the fourth consecutive new all-time lap record at CMS, exceeding Burton's old record by more than 31 mph. Burton's speed still remains as the fastest time ever set by a Winston Cup car at CMS.
The third and fourth drivers out, Billy Boat in the #1 Conseco AJ Foyt Racing G Force Aurora and Davey Hamilton in the #14 AJ Foyt Power Team Racing G Force Aurora set speeds in excess of 212 mph, leaving them sharing the second row in third and fourth place. Boat, whose third place time is his career best IRL start, won the American Dairy Association Fastest Rookie Award.
A total of 22 cars took qualifying runs, with 21 posting speeds in excess of 200 mph. Rounding out the field will be Sam Schmidt in the HOPE Prepaid Fuel Card Racing Special Dallara Aurora, with no time. Schmidt was unable to present himself for qualifying before the 8:30 deadline because of a broken cam sensor, which a team spokesperson described as "sixty-nine cent part, three hour repair".
Ken Plotkin - Motorsport News International