IRL: Indy 500 final qualifying report 98-05-17

FIELD SET; KITE, WARD, LUYENDYK LEAD SECOND DAY INDIANAPOLIS, May 17, 1998 - Rookie Jimmy Kite, Jeff Ward and two-time Indy 500 champion Arie Luyendyk were the fastest drivers in Bubble Day qualifications as the field of 33 cars was set for the...


INDIANAPOLIS, May 17, 1998 - Rookie Jimmy Kite, Jeff Ward and two-time Indy 500 champion Arie Luyendyk were the fastest drivers in Bubble Day qualifications as the field of 33 cars was set for the 82nd Indianapolis 500.

Kite will start 26th on May 24 after recording a four-lap average speed of 219.290 mph in the Royal Purple Synthetic-Synerlec-Scandia Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear that his crew worked all night to repair. The rear end of his car wavered while exiting Turn 3 on his final lap, but he recovered to finish the attempt, pumping his fist in celebration during his cool-down lap.

His dramatic run with 1 hour, 9 minutes remaining in qualifying salvaged a week in which he crashed three times, damaging his primary and backup cars. Kite crashed his backup car during his first qualifying attempt Saturday.

"I could feel my heart beat in my head," Kite said. "I've never had a lump that big in my throat. I'm so glad it's over. It's been a roller coaster all day."

Ward powered into the 27th spot at 219.086 in the ISM Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear.

Defending champion Luyendyk wasted little time earning the 28th spot. He posted a four-lap average of 218.935 in the Sprint PCS-Radio Shack-Qualcomm G Force/Aurora/Firestone just 19 minutes after qualifying started. His car showed no sign of the engine problems that plagued it Saturday.

"The crew put in a motor today, the last one we had available, which had way too many miles on it to be crisp," Luyendyk said. "But it performed. For sure, we'd look stupid not making the show after winning it last year."

Only two drivers - Billy Roe and Eliseo Salazar - were bumped despite 18 qualifying attempts in the last 1 hour, 29 minutes. Roe climbed into his other Royal Purple-ProLink-Scandia just 24 minutes before the end of qualifying and earned the 33rd and final spot at 217.835. Salazar wasn't able to make the field despite a last-ditch attempt with four minutes left in a car borrowed from Stan Wattles.

Johnny Unser was the last driver on the bubble, but survived four attempts to displace him from the field in the last 18 minutes of qualifying.

"It felt like an army -so many people taking shots at me," Unser said. "I had a bulletproof vest on."

Hideshi Matsuda was preparing to leave the pits and start his third and final attempt in the Beck Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone when the final gun sounded at 6 p.m., ending qualifying for the event.

Another notable non-qualifier was Lyn St. James, the only female entrant. She failed in three attempts, topping out at 215.642 in the Lifetime TV for Women Special G Force/Infiniti/Goodyear.

"I'm kind of stunned," St. James said. "I'll tell you right now - I'm coming back. We worked hard. We just didn't get the job done."

The field average is 218.305 mph, 6.019 mph faster than last year.

POS Car Driver Car Name C/E/T AVG TIME

1 11 Billy Boat Conseco AJ Foyt Racing D/A/G 223.503 2:41.072 2 97 Greg Ray TKM/Genoa Racing D/A/F 221.125 2:42.804 3 14 Kenny Brack AJ Foyt PowerTeam Racing D/A/G 220.982 2:42.909 4 1 Tony Stewart Glidden/Menards Special D/A/F 220.386 2:43.350 5 3 Robby Buhl Johns Manville/Menards Special D/A/F 220.236 2:43.461 6 99 Sam Schmidt Best Western Gold Crown Racing Special D/A/F 219.982 2:43.650 7 8 Scott Sharp Delphi Automotive Systems D/A/G 219.91 2:43.703 8 6 Davey Hamilton Nienhouse Motorsports G Force Aurora G/A/G 219.748 2:43.824 9 21 Roberto Guerrero Pagan Racing Dallara-Oldsmobile D/A/G 218.9 2:44.459 10 4 Scott Goodyear Pennzoil Panther G Force G/A/G 218.868 2:44.868 11 91 Buddy Lazier Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Hemelgarn Racing D/A/G 218.288 2:44.920 12 28T Mark Dismore Kelley Automotive D/A/G 218.096 2:45.065 13 44 J.J. Yeley One Call Communications Quaker State Menards SRS D/A/F 218.044 2:45.104 14 16 Marco Greco Int. Sports Ltd. Phoenix Racing G/A/F 217.953 2:45.173 15 40 Dr. Jack Miller Crest Racing D/I/F 217.8 2:45.289 16 81 John Paul Jr. Team Pelfrey D/A/F 217.351 2:45.631 17 51 Eddie Cheever Jr. Rachel’s Potato Chips D/A/G 217.334 2:45.644 18 12 Buzz Calkins International Star Registry/Bradley FoodMarts G/A/G 217.197 2:45.748 19 17 Andy Michner Konica/Syan Racing/Dallara D/A/G 216.922 2:45.958 20 53 Jim Guthrie ISM Racing G/A/G 216.604 2:46.202 21 52 Robby Unser Team Cheever D/A/G 216.534 2:45.256 22 18 Jack Hewitt Parker Machinery G/A/G 216.45 2:46.320 23 55 Steve Knapp ISM Racing G/A/G 216.445 2:46.324 24 98 Donnie Beechler Cahill Auto Racing G/A/F 216.357 2:46.329 25 9 Johnny Unser Hemelgarn Racing D/A/G 216.316 2:46.423 26 7 Jimmy Kite Royal Purple Synthetic/”Synerlec”/Scandia D/A/G 219.29 2:44.166 27 35 Jeff Ward ISM Racing G/A/G 219.086 2:44.319 28 5t Arie Luyendyk Sprint PCS/Radio Shack/Qualcomm G/A/F 218.935 2:44.432 29 19 Stan Wattles Metro Racing Systems/NCLD R/A/G 217.477 2:45.535 30 30 Raul Boesel Beloit/Fast Rod/Team Losi/McCormack Mtrspts. G/A/G 217.303 2:45.666 31 77 Stephan Gregoire Blue Star/ Tokheim/Estridge/Miller-Eads G/A/G 217.036 2:45.871 32 10 Mike Groff Jonathan Byrd’s VisionAire Bryant Heating & Cooling G/A/F 216.704 2:46.125 33 33T Billy Roe Royal Purple/ProLink/Scandia D/A/G 217.835 2:45.263

Legend: R=Indy 500 Rookie Chassis: D=Dallara, G=G Force, R=Riley & Scott Engine: A=Oldsmobile Aurora, I=Nissan Infiniti Tire: F=Firestone, G=Goodyear

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Guerrero , Jimmy Kite , Raul Boesel , Donnie Beechler , Kenny Brack , Billy Roe , Sam Schmidt , Lyn St. James , Steve Knapp , J.J. Yeley , Jack Hewitt , Stan Wattles , Johnny Unser , Robby Unser , John Paul , Robby Buhl , Matsuda Hideshi , Jack Miller
Teams Phoenix Racing