IRL: Charlotte Stewart Hot Shoe as NASCAR Territory Embraces IRL

Tony Stewart posted top time of 25.138 seconds, 214.814 mph, during rain-shortened first day practice on the 1.5 mile high-banked Charlotte Motor Speedway. Faster times are expected when practice resumes tomorrow. Stewart's fast time came 27 ...

Tony Stewart posted top time of 25.138 seconds, 214.814 mph, during rain-shortened first day practice on the 1.5 mile high-banked Charlotte Motor Speedway. Faster times are expected when practice resumes tomorrow. Stewart's fast time came 27 minutes into the session, just before the skies opened. Second fastest time of 25.777 was set only five minutes earlier by Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Team driver Billy Boat. Boat, who had never run at Charlotte before, showed his talent as he came up to speed quickly. Proud car owner Foyt was heard to exclaim "The boy's never been here before" as he saw the times.

Stewart likened Charlotte Motor Speedway to Texas Motor Speedway, except for bigger bumps at Charlotte. While his car was bottoming a little during the session, he indicated that it was less of a problem than during the earlier test sessions and said it was being worked on.

Jim Guthrie made a welcome return to the cockpit, saying that "It felt like home". He experienced electrical problems during the abbreviated test session, and did not come up to speed. After the session, he talked about IRL's commitment to safety. He pointed out that he sustained 80 g's in his accident at Pike's Peak, and talked of seat improvements that would protect at up to 120 g's and let drivers walk away at up to 60 g's. He felt the car did its job at Pike's Peak, with the gearbox shattering and the engine block breaking. IRL continues to work on improvements to the gearbox, cockpits and seats. "They don't like to see people get hurt", he said.

The heart of NASCAR country welcomed arrival of the "pointy cars". Brad Noffsinger, crew chief on the No. 46 Winston Cup car and NASCAR Technical Director Gary Nelson were seen spectating in the pits and the garage, and each seemed to be enjoying what they saw. Famous NASCAR gas man Danny "Chocolate" Myers ( http://www.gasmanchoc.com ) will take a break from the 11 gallon gasoline dump cans this weekend, and wield a methanol hose for driver Affonso Giaffone in the # 17 GM Brasil/Chitwood Motorsports Dallara-Aurora.

Ken Plotkin - Motorsport News International

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Billy Boat , Jim Guthrie