For Immediate Release PAUL JR., STEWART CONTINUE TESTING NEW IRL CARS AT SPEEDWAY INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, March 11, 1997 -- John Paul Jr., and Tony Stewart became the second and third drivers to test the new Indy Racing League machines at the...
For Immediate Release
PAUL JR., STEWART CONTINUE TESTING NEW IRL CARS AT SPEEDWAY
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, March 11, 1997 -- John Paul Jr., and Tony Stewart became the second and third drivers to test the new Indy Racing League machines at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today as the pre-month-of-May private sessions continued. Paul Jr., drove PDM Racing's Tnemec Earl's Performance Products V-Line Dallara/Oldsmobile Aurora on Goodyear tires. Stewart piloted Team Menard's Glidden/Menard Special, a G Force/Aurora on Firestone tires. It marked the first time on the 2.5 mile oval for a G-Force chassis and was also Firestone's first test at the Speedway with the new cars.
Fermin Velez was the first driver to test the new IRL machines at the Speedway last Thursday in a Team Scandia machine.
Stewart logged 59 laps and reached a top lap speed of 214.485 miles an hour. Paul Jr. ran 51 laps and reached a top lap of 212.514.
QUOTES: JOHN PAUL JR.: "The car's terrific. It gives you a real good feel for what it's doing. The old car had grip but then it would break away. This car tells you earlier what's going to happen. Trying to figure out what it wants is different but it feels like just another (Indianapolis-type) car. The things it responded to at Phoenix, it responds to here. That's a good sign."
PAUL DIATLOVICH (PDM Racing co-owner): "For out of the box, it showed the reliability of the car, the competitiveness of the driver. John's first hot lap was 199 and his second was 202, so we were the first to go over 200 here with the new cars. Tomorrow, we'll test for Goodyear and try to improve the car for May. It's great being back here. The car sounds good here. The fans are going to be able to hear these things when they're waiting outside the gate."
TONY STEWART: "To be honest, I didn't know what we'd run. The biggest thing I was concerned with was that last year, when I came to the Speedway, the team had already tested. We're the first G Force (team) here and no one knew what the cars were going to need. Larry (Curry) put a setup on it that was really comfortable right out of the box. It's stable. It doesn't do anything spooky or scary. Of the tracks we've been to, the differences from last year's car don't seem to be as great here."
LARRY CURRY (Team Menard director of racing): "No, I didn't think we would go that fast. We came with the idea we'd run 207, 208. The speed came quicker than I expected. The car's done what it's done any place we've been -- it's been consistent. Indianapolis is a place where horsepower counts. Right now, the guy who's going to be fast is the guy who has the car virtually perfect. You don't have the abundance of power, so if you slip, you lose a mile an hour or so. I thought 215 would be the pole speed but I don't know now."
Among visitors to the Speedway today were IRL rookie Dr. Jack Miller and Indianapolis 500 veterans Johnny Parsons and Jerry Karl.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford was named to drive the 1997 Oldsmobile Aurora pace car for the 81st running of the historic auto race on May 25. Aurora Brand Manager John Gatt announced Rutherford's selection at a press conference today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Hall of Fame Museum.
"In the 24 times I raced at Indy, I've started from the pole and I've started from the back," said Rutherford, who is also the IRL's special projects coordinator. "Now that I'm retired from racing, I'll have the best seat in the house when I lead the field to the start of the greatest race in the world in the Aurora pace car."