IRL: Charlotte report

For Immediate Release LAZIER WINS LATE DUEL WITH BOAT TO TAKE VISIONAIRE 500 CONCORD, N.C., July 26, 1997 -- Buddy Lazier lost a lap early, got it back and won a late-race duel with rookie Billy Boat Saturday night to take the inaugural ...

For Immediate Release

LAZIER WINS LATE DUEL WITH BOAT TO TAKE VISIONAIRE 500

CONCORD, N.C., July 26, 1997 -- Buddy Lazier lost a lap early, got it back and won a late-race duel with rookie Billy Boat Saturday night to take the inaugural VisionAire 500 Indy Racing League event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Lazier's furious charge back into contention in the Delta Faucet Cinergy Hemelgarn Racing entry became victorious when he repassed Boat just four laps from the finish to win by 3.301 seconds.

Boat finished second, followed by Scott Goodyear and rookies Affonso Giaffone and Kenny Brack before a crowd of 73,039.

Tony Stewart took off from the pole, led the first 47 laps and 74 overall before an unscheduled pit stop put him two laps down. Although he finished seventh, he extended his streaks of consecutive first laps led to six and consecutive races led to six. Stewart also captured the 1996-97 IRL point lead, now totaling 233 to 226 for second-place Davey Hamilton.

There were 13 lead changes, rookie Jimmy Kite getting his first turn on the point in only his second IRL race and Roberto Guerrero taking command for the first time since the 1996 Indianapolis 500. Lazier's average speed was 162.096 miles an hour. There were four cautions for 27 laps.

Lazier was a lap down just past the halfway point, but returned to the lead lap by passing Guerrero on Lap 120. He took his second lead of the night on Lap 167 and held it until Boat slashed past him in Turn 3 on Lap 196. But one lap later, Lazier passed Boat at the start/finish line to take the lead for good.

"To me, it's just an incredible win because my lady and I and my whole family are huge Winston Cup fans," Lazier said. "To be watching races here for as long as I can remember and then being able to come here and run in an open-wheel format is awesome and then to be able to win, it's just unbelievable."

Even at that, Lazier had one problem: Finding Victory Lane.

"I didn't know where it was, to be honest with you," Lazier said. "I've seen it on TV. I know what it looks like but I didn't know where it was."

Giaffone and Brack got their best career finishes with fourth and fifth, respectively. Giaffone's best previous finish was ninth at Pikes Peak and Brack's was 11th at Phoenix.

Lazier and the Hemelgarn team took $152,700 of the total $1,167,000 in prize money. Boat and AJ Foyt Enterprises took in $103,650 for second.

Stewart captured the PPG Pole Award and the MBNA Lap Leader Award for leading the most laps. Bill Martin, his chief mechanic, won the True Value Pole Winning Chief Mechanic Award. Eddie Cheever Jr., and his team captured the Coors Pit Performance Award.

Boat had the fastest lap of the race at 213.506 miles an hour on Lap 9. Lazier had the fastest leading lap at 212.089 on Lap 82.

The race was the first for Indy-style cars in the history of Charlotte Motor Speedway. It will be televised on a delayed basis by CBS Sports at 1 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Davey Hamilton , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Guerrero , Jimmy Kite , Kenny Brack , Bill Martin