IRL: Indianapolis 500 Carburetion Day Notes

Indianapolis 500 Carburetion Day Notes Ken Plotkin - - Motorsport News International Indianapolis, Indiana, May 27 - All of the 33 cars qualified for Sunday's Indianapolis 500 took to the track today in the final test session ...

Indianapolis 500 Carburetion Day Notes

Ken Plotkin - - Motorsport News International

Indianapolis, Indiana, May 27 - All of the 33 cars qualified for Sunday's Indianapolis 500 took to the track today in the final test session before the race.

The quest for pre-race speed should be over before Carburetion Day. Today's activity is supposed to be functional check runs: make sure everything is screwed on right and nothing is leaking. Despite that, bragging rights to the fastest speed of the day went to Sam Schmidt in the #99 Unistar Auto Insurance G-Force Dallara/Aurora, with a best speed of 222.458 mph. Sam was low key about his speed. "We just went through our checklist and we kept it off the wall. We might have gotten a little tow on the 222 lap." He was pleased with his car. "On race day we're going to have a darned good race car in traffic and we're gonna race to be there at the end."

Second and third fastest speeds went to Greg Ray in the #2 and #32 Glidden Menards Dallara/Auroras, at 221.822 mph and 221.790 mph, repectively. Greg drove both his own #2 and teammate Robby Gordon's #32 because Robby was in St. Louis preparing to drive Team Menard's entry in Saturday's CART Motorola 300 at Gateway. Greg expounded "Both cars felt very good. Very similar setups." Robby's #32 began life as a twin to Greg's #2. Last Saturday Robby put that car into the second row after only a handful of practice laps in it.

Also doing double duty this weekend is Tony Stewart, who will drive in both the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, NC. Tony put in 22 practice laps, with seventh-fastest speed of 221.098 mph. He stuck to the functional check run concept. "We didn't hit anything, and the car is in one piece. We're just fine. We did everything we needed to do today." While Stewart and co-owner Larry Curry did not try for speed bragging rights today, they repeated their tale that Stewart's pre-qualifying practice lap of 226 mph was with the car in race trim. "We can't wait for Sunday", said Curry.

Stewart's teammate, Dr. Jack Miller in the #17 Dean's Milk Chug Dallara/Aurora, also stuck to the functional check run concept, and made no bones about his 203.864 mph being the slowest best speed of the day. "We purposely didn't run for any times today. For carburetion day, the least amount you run the better. I've been here too many times and seen too many things happen."

Today saw the first use of the Suspension Wheel Energy Management System (SWEMS), designed to reduce the chances of wheel/suspension assemblies becoming dangerous projectiles in crashes. The system consists of eight to twelve Zylon cables connecting the suspension and hubs. Zylon is the same material used for a similar application in Formula One.

In another safety-related move, Pep Boys Indy Racing League Executive Director Leo Mehl annonced that engine speeds will be limited to 10,000 rpm for the remaining races in the 1999 schedule. "We will definitely slow the cars down. There's been obvious reasons for doing that. Fortunately, we have a rev limiter in our engine formula so that we are able to adjust the speed of the cars without destroying the handling of the cars, which we don't think is the proper way to slow a race car down."

After Carburetion Day runs, the Coors Indy Pit Stop Challenge was held. This $80,000 (including a $5000 charity donation by Coors to the winning team's favorite charity) is an elimination between eight teams. The competion was won by Galles Racing, Davey Hamilton Car #9. In the final elimination they bested A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Kenny Brack, 12.680 seconds to 14.560 seconds.

Pep Boys Indy Racing League founder and IMS President Tony George put a damper on the recent rumors of an impending IRL/CART merger. He acknowleged that there have been talks between the two series, including a meeting last week, but that such communication is routine. He expects more talks, but does not expect anything substantive to occur. George feels that the philosophies of the two series are still too far apart.

When activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were done for the day, die-hard race fans moved to the 16th Street Speedway for an exciting evening of USAC Midget racing. Nearly 60 cars entered the back gate, leding to a program of time trials, two non-qualifiers races, four heats, a B-main and an A-main. Jason Leffler thrilled the crowd with a qualifying speed of 11.786 seconds, a new track record.

In the 40 lap feature, front row sitters Adam Clarke and Jerry Coons Jr. put on a spectacular show battling wheel to wheel while Leffler worked hard to try to improve his sixth place starting position. Although the low groove was favored by most drivers, Leffler used the high side to move into third place by lap 13. He then flipped violently down the front straight. His car was righted, the right rear tire was replaced, and Leffler was relegated to the rear of the field. The battle up front continued, with up to half a dozen cars in the fray. Coons managed to pass Clarke on the 17th lap, and led the way to the finish. Leffler continued to demonstrate his passing skills, eventually finishing seventh.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Robby Gordon , Greg Ray , Davey Hamilton , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Tony George , A.J. Foyt , Jack Miller , Jerry Coons Jr.
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises