IRL: Indy 500 entries sent 97-02-18

For Immediate Release ENTRY INVITATIONS MAILED FOR 81ST INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, March 18, 1997 -- Entry invitations for the 81st Indianapolis 500 were mailed today to eligible race teams. These teams are invited to enter and compete...

For Immediate Release

ENTRY INVITATIONS MAILED FOR 81ST INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, March 18, 1997 -- Entry invitations for the 81st Indianapolis 500 were mailed today to eligible race teams. These teams are invited to enter and compete for 33 starting spots and the world's richest racing payday in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The entry deadline for the Indy Racing League event is midnight April 11 Invitees include teams who participated in last year's "500" plus several new IRL teams.

Last year's Indianapolis 500 purse was a record $8,114,600.

Among drivers expected to be listed on entries are defending "500" winner Buddy Lazier, and 1990 winner and track record holder Arie Luyendyk.

Lazier took the lead from Davy Jones in last year's race on Lap 193 down the front straightaway and survived a challenge on a final lap restart to win by .695 of a second, the third closest finish in "500" history. =20

Luyendyk won the legendary event in 1990 and set the current official track records of 237.498 miles per hour for one lap and 236.986 mph for a four-lap qualification run in 1996.=20

Buzz Calkins and Scott Sharp, the 1996 Indy Racing League co-champions, are also expected to field entries for the 81st running of the Indianapolis 500. Calkins won the inaugural Indy 200 at Walt Disney World in 1996, and Sharp won the inaugural True Value 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway in 1996.=20

Eddie Cheever, Jr., the 1997 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World race winner, is also expected to field an entry for this year's "500" as is IRL standout driver Tony Stewart, who holds the IRL record for most races led to date with five.=20

Several "500" rookies are expected to be listed on entries including Kenny Brack, Sam Schmidt, Jeret Schroeder, and Jack Miller.

The 81st Indianapolis 500, with all reserved seats sold out, will be broadcast live by ABC Sports television and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. More than 100 hours of national television programming on ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2 is scheduled surrounding the month of May at the Speedway.

The Speedway will open on Saturday, May 3, with the 500 Festival "Start Your Engines" opening day celebration. Fans can purchase an admission ticket to this new event that includes a lap around the 2 =BD mile oval in your own vehicle followed by an infield tailgate party and reserved seating for the opening ceremonies. The first on-track activity will be the USAC Rookie Orientation Program, which is open to the public and takes place on May 4-6.= =20

Indy Racing League teams are currently preparing for the Phoenix 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 23, to be televised live by ABC Sports at 4:00 p.m. EST and carried live by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.=20

...97-02...

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Jeret Schroeder , Sam Schmidt , Davy Jones , Jack Miller