For Immediate Release A CURIOUS NASCARLAND WATCHES THE CARS OF INDY INDIANAPOLIS, July 28, 1997 -- In the wake of Saturday night's inaugural VisionAire 500 Indy Racing League event at Charlotte Motor Speedway before 73,039 curious fans in the...
For Immediate Release
A CURIOUS NASCARLAND WATCHES THE CARS OF INDY
INDIANAPOLIS, July 28, 1997 -- In the wake of Saturday night's inaugural VisionAire 500 Indy Racing League event at Charlotte Motor Speedway before 73,039 curious fans in the heart of NASCAR country, some reflections are in order.
"How fast did they go?" a fast-food worker asked a veteran Indy fan the morning after the race.
"Indy cars at Charlotte...stock cars at Indy next week (for the Brickyard 400) ... aren't you guys a little mixed up?" said another, laughing.
The VisionAire 500, with a fastest leading race lap by race winner Buddy Lazier of 212.089 miles per hour, and a fastest race lap of 213.506 mph by second place finisher Billy Boat, drew some of NASCAR's finest to take a look, and they weren't disappointed.
Danny "Chocolate" Myers, the gasman for Dale Earnhardt's Winston Cup car, served as the fueler for Affonso Giaffone and Chitwood Motorsports and Giaffone got his best career IRL finish with fourth.
"There's no comparison except it's racing," said Myers. "These guys were absolutely wonderful. It's been pleasant working with Joie Chitwood and all the IRL guys. It isn't any harder or easier, it's still racing and it's good racing and I'm enjoying it."
Mike Belden, the gasman for Jeff Gordon in "real life," had fueling duties for Greg Ray.
"The biggest difference is the open wheels," he said, "but it's the same when you want to win as bad as they do. I was very impressed with their patience and professionalism."
Richard Childress Racing was a co-sponsor of Ray, who carried No. 31 on his black car for the first time. Johnny Benson Jr. walked pit road and visited Roberto Guerrero's pit as part of the Pennzoil racing family. Famed NASCAR-style artist Sam Bass created the event poster and program cover. NASCAR Winston Cup Director Gary Nelson visited the IRL garage.
On the opening day of practice, Brad Noffsinger, crew chief of Wally Dallenbach Jr.'s Winston Cup car and a two-time California Racing Association sprint-car champion, spent the evening strolling up and down pit road. When asked what he was up to, Noffsinger smiled and said, "Looking for a ride!" *** NOTES: The first Riley & Scott chassis was unveiled at Charlotte and driver Mark Dismore and Kelley Racing are embarking on a testing program designed to prepare the car for its first race in the Pennzoil 200 Aug. 17 at Loudon, N.H.
"This car to me looks a lot slicker, like it'll go through the air easier," Dismore said. "Bob Riley spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel with the car and I know we'll get good downforce. The cockpit...your feet are a little further back and he's done that for safety reasons. The width...it feels to me down around your hips, you have more room." ***
Tony Stewart extended several streaks in the VisionAire 500. He led the first lap for the sixth straight race. He got his fifth IRL pole and seventh straight front-row start...Billy Boat started third, a career IRL best...Davey Hamilton's accident ended his streak of eight straight races running at the finish...Kenny Brack got his best career IRL finish of fifth. His previous best was 11th at Phoenix...Roberto Guerrero's 21 laps led were his first since leading 47 laps of the 1996 Indianapolis 500...Jimmy Kite, in only his second start, got his first turn at the point, leading 11 laps...Scott Goodyear, who finished third, got his fifth top 10 finish in six IRL starts...Arie Luyendyk got his fifth IRL front-row starting spot.