DAY 11 TUESDAY, MAY 13 Buddy Lazier was fastest of the day with a lap at 217.040 miles an hour in the Delta Faucet-Montana-Hemelgarn Racing entry at 5:34 p.m. Of not-yet qualified drivers, Billy Boat was the fastest at 214.133 at 5:19 p.m. in...
DAY 11 TUESDAY, MAY 13
Buddy Lazier was fastest of the day with a lap at 217.040 miles an hour in the Delta Faucet-Montana-Hemelgarn Racing entry at 5:34 p.m. Of not-yet qualified drivers, Billy Boat was the fastest at 214.133 at 5:19 p.m. in the #11 AJ Foyt Enterprises entry. A total of 10 drivers turned their fastest laps of the month Lazier, Eddie Cheever Jr., Steve Kinser, Boat, Lyn St. James, Roberto Guerrero, Marco Greco, Mike Groff, Billy Roe and Dennis Vitolo.
BUDDY LAZIER: (about the car since the engine switch) "I would say yes, (things are better). This is just our third day in the car. Lee Kunzman and Ron Dawes are really working hard. I think its definitely getting to be a better race car. We ran full tanks today and worked on better setups. I think we are really catching up."
RON HEMELGARN: (about today's speed) "Good speed. We went out and tried some different things. I think we have a good race car. That's what we went into (the race with) last year. I think that's what it will take to win back to back. After 26 years I think we're ready for that."
BILLY BOAT: "I just wanted to settle down, get focused on my job. A.J.'s really been fantastic, letting me work with the race car at my own pace. I know we're not going to sit on the pole. That's already done. I'm just trying to get a good seat-of-the-pants feel for it."
STEVE KINSER: Most of the jump today (214.444) was me getting used to the car. I think there's still a little bit in it yet and we're going to work to find it. Right now we need to figure out what kind of race speed we want to run and prepare the car to work up to that. I feel that right now were a little ahead of schedule and I hope it keeps going that good.
At 12:15 p.m. in Garage A-1, A.J. Foyt announced that Johnny O'Connell would replace Scott Sharp in the #1 Conseco AJ Foyt Racing entry. A.J. FOYT: (about John Andretti as a candidate): "It was such a hardship on Cale Yarborough, also myself and John Andretti that I just didn't feel it would be fair for him us or Cale, so we've come to this conclusion this morning that John would not be in the car. John felt the same way as we did and Cale. We were hoping it would work out but we felt in the best interests for both teams that it'd be better just to do it separately." (about Johnny O'Connell): "Last year he ran awful good at Phoenix. He was right there up front at Las Vegas when the suspension broke and he got upside down. He's won some championships and a lot of races. He's won the 24-hour race at Daytona. He started, I think, 29th here and before the first pit stop, he was up to eighth."
JOHNNY O'CONNELL: "Basically, this is a huge opportunity for any guy to drive for A.J. For me, having such a strong road-racing background, I've been doing a lot (of) learning about oval racing. I'm going to approach the next couple of days and weeks here not looking at A.J. so much as an owner (but) as a coach. If you look at any driver, they'll tell you he knows a lot and he can teach a lot. So, if I can keep my mouth closed and my ears open, hopefully we'll have a really strong month."
BILLY BOAT: "I've had a chance to get some laps in the Dallara now. I think it's great that Johnny O'Connell's going to be part of the Conseco team. He comes from the same town as I do (Phoenix). I've known him for a long time."
SCOTT SHARP: "It's tough. This is the race that means everything for the year, particularly with Conseco as our sponsor from Indianapolis. You've got to keep moving forward, keep my hopes high and I think I'll be ready to go by Dallas, so we just need to keep focusing on that. It should be good. Johnny did a really good job last year...I'm sure once A.J. figures out a little bit about his style, he'll do just fine."
Rookie Tyce Carlson was named today to replace John Paul Jr., in the #18 Klipsch Tnemec Overhead Door Pyle V-Line Earl's Dallara/Oldsmobile Aurora for PDM Racing at a news conference in the Trackside Conference Room. On Pole Day, the Indiana Pacers' Reggie Miller was a guest of PDM sponsor Fred Klipsch and sent Paul a note with an autograph which read, "Dear John -- Get well soon. I want you to give me driving lessons. Reggie Miller." After the conference, dozens of well-wishers came to talk to Paul in the PDM garage, including Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Eddie Cheever Jr., Mike Groff, Lyn St. James, Fermin Velez, Bill Simpson, Mark Dismore, Davey Hamilton, Paul Durant, Johnny O'Connell, Joe Gosek, Scott Harrington, the IMS safety team that helped him from the wreckage and personnel from many teams. A handicapped parking sign with the number 18 and "Parking for John Paul Jr. Only" is on the door of the PDM garage.
PAUL DIATLOVICH (co-owner, PDM): "We had an incident last week, where unfortunately for our driver of choice, Mr. John Paul (Jr.), he will not be able to compete in this year's race. After a search of eligible drivers at this time, consulting John, we felt that it was in our best interest, for our sponsors, for ourselves and for John to name Tyce Carlson as the driver of choice for car #18 PDM entry. John has worked with Tyce the two races we ran last year. And they were both very good working together. I would like to say one thing: They are probably two of the most unselfish people that I've ever had the pleasure of doing business with in this industry. I have to commend John for wanting to do this and helping us out (when) we need him. Rest assured we will help him out."
TYCE CARLSON: "The way the month started out, I believed I was going to run the #28 car but obviously that didn't happen. I've been a part of PDM for a year now. And whatever it took to make this team win the Indianapolis 500, that's what I'm going to do this month, whether it be run tires, help set up the pits, spot for John Paul (Jr.), which I've done the last two races...that's what I was going to do. I never wanted to get in the seat with the circumstances that had happened, but I'm going to do my best to win this race not for myself, but for the guys that have tried so hard to put this car in the field."
JOHN PAUL JR.: "I'm feeling fine. I'm glad to get the chance to come here. I started losing my energy just laying around. Tyce is a good driver, a quick learner. I've gotten to know him since last year. We're very confident in his abilities. I'm here to support Tyce. I think you're looking at the winner of the race this year. Hopefully, there are some things I can help him with about these IRL cars as far as different conditions with the wind and whatever. And I'm looking forward to PDM Racing still winning this race. We have all the ingredients to do it."
Lyn St. James was the guest speaker Monday night at the Executive Women International Indianapolis Chapter meeting at the Brickyard Crossing Inn. St. James was introduced by the chapter's president, Patty Fabian, and Kathryn Morrow of the Speedway. The meeting's focus was the announcement of the 1997 EWI scholarship recipients Melanie Mason of Brebeuf Preparatory School and Abbie Berryman of Brownsburg High School.
In a conversation Sunday night, veteran Paul Durant gave this description of the Speedway: "This place is like Alice in Wonderland. Nothing is what it appears."
17 cars were on the track today, running 849 laps. Cars on track today: #2T Stewart; #3T Buhl; #4T Brack; #6 Goodyear; #10T M. Groff; #11 Boat; #12 Calkins; #17 Giaffone; #21T Guerrero; #22 Greco; #42 Gordon; #44 Kinser; #50 Roe; #51 Cheever; #54 Vitolo; #90 St. James; #91T Lazier.
A total of 43 cars are now at the Speedway, 40 have passed technical inspection and none are in the process. 32 drivers have been on the track to date. There were five yellows for 50 minutes. At 11 a.m., the temperature was 52 degrees and winds were SW at nine miles an hour. At 6:27 p.m., the temeprature was 61 degrees and winds were out of the west at 15 mph., gusting to 23 mph.
TOP NOT-YET QUALIFIED DRIVERS OF THE DAY 1 11 Billy Boat AJ Foyt Enterprises D/A/G 214.133 2 22 Marco Greco Side Play Int'l Scandia Alta Xcel D/A/G 210.079 3 50 Billy Roe Sega/Progressive Electronics/Eurointernational D/A/F 209.888 4 54 Dennis Vitolo SmithKline Beecham/Kroger/Beck Motorsports D/I/F 196.002