IRL: Day 14 - Indy 500 - May 16

IRL: Day 14 - Indy 500 - May 16
Mar 27, 1997, 5:47 AM

DAY 14 FRIDAY, MAY 16 Tony Stewart was fastest of the day with a lap at 216.388 in the ...


Tony Stewart was fastest of the day with a lap at 216.388 in the #2T Glidden Menards Special. Greg Ray was the fastest of the day among not-yet-qualified drivers with a lap at 215.069 in the #97 Tobacco Free Kids entry. GREG RAY: (thoughts on last Sunday's attempt): "No, Sunday I ran out of fuel. It didn't bother me at all. I knew we had the (qualifying) time. I've been out of the car for five days and we ran the same speed as we did Sunday. The nice thing is, we've been running on full tanks. The fourth lap we did today was 215. Since I was out of the car for five days, they wanted to allow me to get comfortable in the car. We tried a little race setup but the focus is qualifying."

Qualifying Line for Saturday: #97 Ray; #11 Boat (both from being left in line last Sunday); #16 Schmidt; #50 Roe; #72 Bourbonnais; #33 Velez; #22 Greco; #18 Carlson; #54 Vitolo; #91 Unser; #28 Dismore; #36 Harrington.

Indy Racing League Executive Director Leo Mehl announced today that the League has finalized technical specifications and manufacturer participation guidelines for the future and has changed its qualifying procedure for the 1998 IRL season, including the Indianapolis 500. The latter announcement eliminated the so-called "25-8" qualifying incentive. Approved chassis and engine manufacturers will be required to make their products available to all IRL teams. The price for engines in 1998 moves to $80,000 and the price for cars moves to $275,000. LEO MEHL: "It was impossible to finalize specifications without the cars being on the race track. Now, with this behind us, we feel these are the proper technical specs. They are written in a manner to insure the race cars will remain competitive for more than one season. Before the new model IRL car is approved, the manufacturers must provide an update kit for the current chassis to make them as competitive as possible with the new ones." (about eliminating the qualifying incentive): "This program was necessary to provide a strong incentive to participate in the IRL and compete in all the League races. In this regard, it has been very successful. Everybody understood it was a necessary thing to start off the League. There had to be some incentive for the teams. I met with the owners this morning and they understand it's time to move on from that." (about reaction from CART): "I'm not sure what their reaction will be. I think they wanted clarification and I think they'll certainly spend a lot of time discussing it. We want people to enter the Indianapolis 500, but we want them to enter the whole series more. So I can't predict their reaction to this, but I guess the only thing I'll tell you is that whether it's a CART person or an IMSA person or anybody else who comes here, they'll be treated fairly and the rules and specifications are clearly defined now."

At 12:36 p.m., Johnny O'Connell had an engine problem in the #1 Conseco AJ Foyt Racing entry going into Turn 1, slid 660 feet with a three-quarter spin to hit the outside wall at the entrance to the south short chute, hit the wall again with the left rear 60 feet further down, came off the wall with a half-spin 750 feet to a stop at the entrance to Turn 2. The car sustained heavy left side and front damage. O'Connell was transported in stable condition to Methodist Hospital by ambulance with a dislocated arch in his left foot requiring surgery and minor facial cuts.

Claude Bourbonnais passed the final observation phase of his driver's test at 1:58 p.m. with veterans Joe Gosek, Paul Durant, Johnny Rutherford and Tero Palmroth serving as observers. CLAUDE BOURBONNAIS: "I needed the rookie orientation to get back up to speed but I'm glad to have completed it. I would've done exactly the same thing if I wouldn't have had rookie orientation because I would've got up to speed at the same rate."

The engine in the #90 Lifetime TV/Cinergy/Hemelgarn Racing entry driven by Lyn St. James is the first Infiniti Indy engine to run over 500 miles in the same car on the same track. To date, St. James has run 207 laps with a fastest circuit of 212.776.

Mary Fendrich Hulman, Chairman Emeritus of the Speedway and the matriarch of the Hulman-George family, and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Gordon Johncock will be inducted into the Speedway Hall of Fame as the 103rd and 104th members at Hall of Fame Membership and Oldtimers Tribute at 6:30 p.m. at the Adam's Mark Hotel. Past "500" Rookies of the Year will also be recognized. Mrs. Hulman is the widow of the late Tony Hulman, who purchased the Speedway in 1945. Since 1978, she has assumed his duty of giving the Race Day command of "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" or "Lady and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines." Johncock started 24 Indianapolis 500s over four decades and won the race in 1973 and 1982, the latter by .16 of a second over Rick Mears, then the closest margin of victory in "500" history.

At 8:26 p.m. Thursday in Indianapolis, Scott and Leslie Goodyear celebrated the arrival of their third child, Hayley Alexandra Goodyear, who weighed seven pounds, 15 ounces.

21 cars were on the track today, running 762 laps. Cars on track today: #1 O'Connell; #2T Stewart; #3T Buhl; #4T Brack; #10T M. Groff; #11 Boat; #12 Calkins; #16 Schmidt; #18 Carlson; #22 Greco; #28 Dismore; #33 Velez; #36 Scott Harrington, Johansson-Immke Motorsports; #40 Miller; #44 Kinser; #50 Roe; #51T Ward; #54 Vitolo; #72 Bourbonnais; #91T Lazier; #97 Ray.

A total of 47 cars are now at the Speedway, 44 have passed technical inspection and none are in the process. 38 drivers have been on the track to date. There were 13 yellows for one hour, 43 minutes. At 11:16 a.m., the temperature was 55 degrees with winds out of the west at 12 miles an hour, gusting to 18 mph. At 5:29 p.m., the temperature was 62 degrees with winds southwest at 20 miles an hour, gusting to 23 mph. Track temperatures from Goodyear tire engineers were 104 degrees at 11 a.m., 116 degrees at 2 p.m. and 95 degrees at 5:30 p.m.

TOP NOT-YET QUALIFIED DRIVERS OF THE DAY 1 97 Greg Ray Tobacco Free Kids D/A/F 215.069 2 28 Mark Dismore Kelley Automotive Group D/A/G 213.848 3 16 Sam Schmidt HOPE Prepaid Fuel Card D/A/F 213.564 4 11 Billy Boat Conseco AJ Foyt Enterprises D/A/G 213.013 5 1 Johnny O'Connell Conseco AJ Foyt Racing G/A/G 212.922 6 18 Tyce Carlson Klipsch Tnemec Overhead Door Pyle V-Line Earl's D/A/G 212.846 7 50 Billy Roe Sega/Progressive Electronics/Eurointernational D/A/F 212.409 8 22 Marco Greco Side Play International Scandia Alta Xcel D/A/G 211.775 9 33 Fermin Velez Old Navy Scandia Alta Xcel D/A/G 209.844 10 72 Claude Bourbonnais Blueprint Racing D/A/F 207.569 11 54 Dennis Vitolo SmithKline Beecham/Kroger/Beck Motorsports D/I/F 206.493 12 36 Scott Harrington Johansson/Immke Motorsports G/A/G 169.351 --IMS--

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