IRL: IRL Teams to Test at Phoenix Feb. 25-27

For Immediate Release IRL TEAMS SEEK HOT SETUP AT ANNUAL "TEST IN THE WEST" IN PHOENIX PHOENIX, Feb 20, 1998 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams and fans might have one eye on their stopwatches and one on Tony Stewart during...

For Immediate Release


PHOENIX, Feb 20, 1998 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams and fans might have one eye on their stopwatches and one on Tony Stewart during the annual "Test in the West" on Feb. 25-27 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Nearly 30 IRL drivers will turn laps on the 1-mile oval, as the test is one of the last chances to squeeze more speed from their cars before the third annual Phoenix 200 on March 22 at PIR. Among the drivers testing will be two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk, defending race champion Jim Guthrie, Phoenix resident Billy Boat and 1996-97 IRL runner-up Davey Hamilton, a veteran of the annual Skoal Bandit Copper World Classic at PIR.

But many eyes may focus on defending series champion Stewart, one of the hottest drivers in American motorsports. Testing is open to the public - with free admission - from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Feb 26. An autograph session is scheduled for 12:15-1 p.m. that day.

Stewart produced a dominating victory at the season-opening Indy 200 in January near Orlando, Fla., and then cut a wide swath through the field at the Copper World Classic one week later.

He won the USAC Silver Crown and midget races during the four-division event, becoming the first driver in the event's 21-year history to win two divisions in one day. Stewart also finished second in the supermodified main, his first-ever race in that division.

Stewart also was in the top three for most of the NAPA 300 NASCAR Busch Grand National event Feb. 15 at Daytona International Speedway before a late accident ended his race.

During the "Test in the West", Stewart and Team Menard will work on setups that could push their Glidden/Menards G Force/Aurora past the track record for the new IRL cars, 170.012 mph. Stewart set that record while earning the pole for last year's race, in which he finished second to Guthrie.

But Stewart isn't the only driver who could stop the watches in record time at PIR.

Luyendyk from Scottsdale, Ariz., won the inaugural Phoenix 200 in 1996 and calls PIR his favorite 1-mile oval due to its ample passing areas and unique, backstretch dogleg. Guthrie stunned the motorsports world with his No. 2 qualifying spot and victory last year, but it would be no surprise if he is among the fastest cars this year since moving to the ISM Racing team this season.

Hamilton and Jimmy Kite know something about speed at PIR, as both have earned Copper World Classic victories during their careers. Scott Goodyear was the fastest of five drivers at a Goodyear tire test Feb. 11-12 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Scott Sharp was the fastest driver during testing on the 1-mile tri-oval at Walt Disney World Speedway before the Indy 200. Raul Boesel also could be fast at Phoenix, as he placed second in an Indy-style race in 1993 at PIR. Boesel made his IRL debut at the Indy 200, finishing 18th.

The lineup: Here are the IRL drivers scheduled to participate in the "Test in the West." Tony Stewart, Arie Luyendyk, Buddy Lazier, Scott Goodyear, Buzz Calkins, Billy Boat, Kenny Brack, Stephan Gregoire, Scott Sharp, Robbie Buhl, Jim Guthrie, Greg Ray, Eliseo Salazar, Davey Hamilton, Eddie Cheever Jr., Mark Dismore, Sam Schmidt, Raul Boesel, Stan Wattles, John Paul Jr., Jimmy Kite, Marco Greco, Jeff Ward, Mike Groff and Dr. Jack Miller.

IRL rookies Dave Steele and J.J. Yeley - both Copper World Classic veterans - also will participate if they passed their refresher and rookie tests Feb. 19 at PIR. ***

Phoenix 200 tickets: Tickets for the Phoenix 200 are available by calling Phoenix International Raceway at (602) 252-2227.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jim Guthrie , Jimmy Kite , Raul Boesel , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , J.J. Yeley , Dave Steele , Stan Wattles , John Paul