For Immediate Release STEWART TURNS FASTEST '97 TESTING LAP OF 218.436 AT SPEEDWAY INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, April 4, 1997 -- Tony Stewart reeled off an unofficial lap at 218.436 miles an hour Friday, the fastest circuit to date for the ...
For Immediate Release
STEWART TURNS FASTEST '97 TESTING LAP OF 218.436 AT SPEEDWAY INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, April 4, 1997 -- Tony Stewart reeled off an unofficial lap at 218.436 miles an hour Friday, the fastest circuit to date for the new Indy Racing League cars during pre-month of May testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Stewart's lap, in the Glidden/Menard Special G Force/Oldsmobile Aurora, came on the final day of a five-day Team Menard test in preparation for the 81st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.
Stewart beat his own previous best of 217.250 set on Thursday. Prior to that, he also held the testing mark of 216.080, set on March 12. In all, Stewart and teammate Robbie Buhl logged 1,375 miles during the week. Buhl ran 970 miles over the first three days and Stewart was in the cockpit for 405 miles on Thursday and Friday. For the '97 testing period, Team Menard has run 1,782.5 miles at the Speedway.
Opening day of the month of May will be Saturday, May 3 with USAC's Rookie Orientation Program continuing through May 5. All drivers may practice starting May 6. ***
The space shuttle Columbia lifted off from Kennedy Space Center today carrying the 1997 Indianapolis 500 checkered flag into space for the duration of its April 4-19 mission. The black and white checkered flag will arrive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after traveling more than 3.8 million miles in space. General Ronal R. Fogleman, Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, will present the flag to race officials during the month of May.
TONY STEWART: "It was just a good lap. We just kept working on the car. I'm not going to say I was surprised because we made three changes and just kept going quicker. I'm pretty happy with the way we ran this afternoon. It was pretty windy and we ran 217. I think there's more (in the car). I wish I could say how much more but I don't know. We still think there's a 220 lap in the car with the right conditions." (about the "500" pole and the possibility of a tighter field): "You don't get big chunks of speed like you did with last year's car. You get maybe a half-a-mile an hour at a time. It (the field) has been tighter every place we've been and this won't be any different. Last year, we had realistically two or three guys with a shot at the pole. This year, there are maybe eight guys, so there'll be a tighter run for the pole."
LARRY CURRY (Team Menard director of racing): "We had a great week. We caught the weather right and got a lot of work done. We got two engines 'in' (for 500 miles). We had one engine that we ran for 535.5 miles with no problems. We had another engine that we ran 505 miles with no problems. We have two engines that we can take home and take apart that had an honest 500 miles on them on this race track. It was important for us to get that accomplished. The thing that was important to me was that we went out and ran 218 miles an hour at 11 o'clock and we ran 217.3 at 2:30 in the afternoon. We ran middle 217s in the wind. I don't think we have the car on the edge yet. I said early on that 220 was a reasonable target and based on what we've seen in testing, I'm going to stick with that. It's realistic. We're talking a couple of tenths (of a second) and I think there's a couple tenths left in the car. You have to remember that we're testing. It doesn't pay anything today." ***
TEAM MENARD STATISTICS OF THE WEEK: DAY DRIVER LAPS FASTEST LAP Monday Robbie Buhl 116 209.011 Tuesday Robbie Buhl 143 214.128 Wednesday Robbie Buhl 129 215.621 Thursday Tony Stewart 104 217.250 Friday Tony Stewart 58 218.436