IRL: Indy 500 - Oldsmobile Bump Day Report

IRL Aurora V8 Dominates Starting Grid for 83rd Indianapolis 500 INDIANAPOLIS, May 23, 1999 - "Bubble Day" became a rainy day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the starting field of 33 drivers was set for the 83rd Indianapolis 500. Five drivers...

IRL Aurora V8 Dominates Starting Grid for 83rd Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS, May 23, 1999 - "Bubble Day" became a rainy day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the starting field of 33 drivers was set for the 83rd Indianapolis 500. Five drivers were bumped from the lineup before the rain began in earnest. Persistent showers shortened the final qualifying session from a scheduled six hours of track time to just over two hours. Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 continued its reign in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, capturing 30 of the 33 spots on the starting grid, sweeping the first five rows, and setting the one-lap and four-lap track records for naturally aspirated IRL cars. Three drivers using rival Infiniti Indy engines qualified 16th, 21st, and 25th. Johnny Unser, Jack Miller, Robbie Buhl, and Raul Boesel made the show with Oldsmobile power today. Mike Groff bumped Scott Harrington, and was bumped himself minutes later by Buhl, the last driver on the track. Unser turned the fastest four-lap speed of the day at 221.197 mph to earn a berth in the tenth row, four rows behind his cousin Robby Unser. After the Infiniti engine in Buhl's Sinden Racing Service Dallara expired, Buhl jumped into one of A.J. Foyt's spare Oldsmobile-powered entries and claimed the middle spot on the 11th row with a 220.115 mph average. A fourth Foyt entry driven by Marco Greco was in line to make a qualifying attempt when the rain arrived. "It's like old times, like open-wheel racing used to be," said A.J. "Money doesn't call the shots here. This is giving guys a chance to show their abilities. The parts I can get, the smaller teams can get, too." * Faster Field: The average speed for the 33 qualifiers was 221.558 mph, a 3.253 mph increase over last year's average. Less than one second per lap (.924 seconds to be precise) separated polewinner Arie Luyendyk and the slowest qualifier, Wim Eyckmans. Eyckman's 220.097 mph average in Team Cheever's Oldsmobile Dallara would have earned a second-row starting position in last year's race. * Engine Builder Update: The 30 IRL Aurora V8 engines that qualified for this year's Indy 500 were assembled by ten different engine builders. Three builders were represented on the front row: Comptech Machine (Arie Luyendyk), Team Menard (Greg Ray), and Roush Technologies (Billy Boat). Oldsmobile engines from Comptech Machine of Eldorado Hills, Calif., produced four of the seven fastest qualifying speeds, including the record-setting 225.179 mph run by polewinner Luyendyk. Speedway Engine Development of Indianapolis and Brayton Engineering of Coldwater, Mich., each qualified seven drivers for the Indy 500.

The following is a summary of the independent Oldsmobile engine builders and the qualified drivers they supplied:

Speedway Engine Development (7): Scott Goodyear, Hideshi Matsuda, Davey Hamilton, Jeff Ward, Buddy Lazier, Johnny Unser, Raul Boesel

Brayton Engineering (7): John Hollansworth, Steve Knapp, Robby Unser, Tony Stewart, Robby McGehee, Wim Eyckmans, Jack Miller

Comptech Machine (5): Arie Luyendyk, Mark Dismore, Scott Sharp, Sam Schmidt, Buzz Calkins

Roush Technologies (3): Billy Boat, Kenny Brack, Robbie Buhl

Katech (2): Eliseo Salazar, Stan Wattles

    Team Menard (2): Greg Ray, Robby Gordon
    Blueprint Racing (1): Tyce Carlson

Shaver Racing Engines (1): Donnie Beechler

Klein Engines (1): Roberto Moreno

NAC Engines (1): Jimmy Kite

* Rookie Racers: Two of the three rookies in this year's Indy 500 field are using Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 engines - John Hollansworth, Jr. of Dallas (the 12th faster qualifier at 221.698 mph) and Wim Eyckmans of Herentals, Belgium. The two most recent winners of the "Rookie of the Year" award both used Oldsmobile powerplants: 1997 third-place finisher Jeff Ward and 1998 third-place finisher Steve Knapp.

* By the Numbers: Oldsmobile engines have dominated the Brickyard since the introduction of the 4.0-liter formula in 1997. Here is a summary of the IRL Aurora V8's record vs. the Infiniti Indy in the 1997 and 1998 Indianapolis 500 races:

                   IRL Aurora V8    Infiniti Indy
Starters:              61                7
Running at Finish:     28                3
Laps Led:             400                0
Laps Completed:     7,905              989

* Today's Aurora Factoid: The spark plugs in an IRL Aurora V8 running at 10,300 rpm fire 41,200 times per minute, or 686 times per second.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Robby Gordon , Buzz Calkins , Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Jimmy Kite , Raul Boesel , Donnie Beechler , Roberto Moreno , Kenny Brack , Steve Knapp , Tyce Carlson , Scott Harrington , Stan Wattles , Wim Eyckmans , Johnny Unser , Robby Unser , A.J. Foyt , Matsuda Hideshi , Jack Miller