IRL: Las Vegas Fast Fact

1996-97 INDY RACING LEAGUE EVENT NO. 10 LAS VEGAS 500k WHAT: Las Vegas 500k, the 1996-97 season-closer for the Indy Racing League WHEN: Oct. 8-11 WHERE: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile ...


WHAT: Las Vegas 500k, the 1996-97 season-closer for the Indy Racing League

WHEN: Oct. 8-11

WHERE: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile tri-oval

POSTED AWARDS: $1,144,000

SANCTION: Indy Racing League

CARS: Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott chassis, Oldsmobile Aurora V8 and Nissan Infiniti Indy engines used in the Indy Racing League for the first time this year.


TV: Race, ABC Sports, tape delayed 4 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, Oct. 12 (with Paul Page and Tom Sneva in the booth and Gary Gerould on pit road). Qualifying, Speedvision, 11 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, Oct. 9 (with Gary Lee, Derek Daly and Calvin Fish).

RADIO: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, 9:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, Oct. 11 (with Bob Jenkins and Gary Lee in the booth, Vince Welch and Mark Jaynes on pit road and Mike King on the backstretch).

WEBSITE: <Live Scoring on Race Day>


Las Vegas Motor Speedway is eight miles north of downtown Las Vegas, sandwiched between I-15 and Nellis Air Force Base.

It has 107,000 seats, 104 skyboxes and 72 suites behind the pit road.

The tri-oval is banked 12 degrees in the turns, three degrees on the back straight and nine on the front straight.


11/14/54 Las Vegas Park Jimmy Bryan 100 miles 84.82 (miles per hour) 3/31/68 Stardust Bobby Unser 150 113.269 10/8/83 Caesars Palace Mario Andretti 200.25 87.192 11/11/84 Caesars Palace Tom Sneva 200.25 93.701 9/15/96 LVMS Richie Hearn 312.5 115.171


The Las Vegas 500k is the sixth national championship/Indy-style race to be held in Las Vegas. The first was won by Jimmy Bryan on Nov. 14, 1954 on the dirt at Las Vegas Park, now the site of the Las Vegas Hilton.

Tony Stewart leads Davey Hamilton by 10 points, 254-244, going into the final race of the 1996-97 season. Last year in the inaugural IRL event at LVMS, Hamilton finished 11th and Stewart finished 21st (out because of an accident) -- ironically, a 10-point spread. Stewart drives for Team Menard and Hamilton for AJ Foyt Enterprises but the pair are teammates for Foyt on the USAC Silver Crown circuit when not on the IRL trail. Positions 3-7 in the 1996-97 IRL driver point standings are up for grabs, with only 16 points separating Eddie Cheever Jr., Arie Luyendyk, Buddy Lazier, Marco Greco and Roberto Guerrero.

Twenty-five drivers have led IRL races during the 1996-97 season. All have led with Oldsmobile Aurora V8 power.

Six drivers have gotten their first wins in Indy-style cars during the 1996-97 season -- Tony Stewart, Eddie Cheever Jr., Jim Guthrie, Robbie Buhl, Scott Sharp and Richie Hearn.

Oldsmobile Aurora V8 engines have captured all seven PPG Poles since the IRL's new formula was instituted -- six in G Force cars and one (Scott Sharp at Pikes Peak) with a Dallara. Arie Luyendyk won the Vegas PPG Pole a year ago at an average speed of 226.491 miles an hour.

PDM Racing is bidding to become the first team to employ all three of the IRL's new chassis at Las Vegas. The team campaigned Dallaras throughout the season, teamed with Kelley Racing to field a new Riley & Scott machine that was qualified (but not raced) by Mark Dismore at Loudon and is expected to have a G Force for John Paul Jr. at Las Vegas. Only one team -- AJ Foyt Enterprises -- has campaigned both G Forces and Dallaras during 1997. The Riley & Scott chassis is expected to be raced for the first time at Las Vegas with Mike Shank and Stan Wattles entered with new machines.

In MBNA Lap Leader standings, Tony Stewart has led 812 laps of the 1996-97 IRL season, followed by Buddy Lazier with 122 and Arie Luyendyk with 120.

Davey Hamilton leads the 1996-97 IRL series in laps completed with 1,599, followed by Stewart at 1,590, Eddie Cheever Jr. at 1,356, Marco Greco at 1,350 and Roberto Guerrero at 1,296.


John Paul Jr.'s mastery in Las Vegas continues. In 1983, at the first race at Caesars Palace for Indy-style cars, he took the pole, led four times for 22 laps and finished second to Mario Andretti. In 1984, as a substitute driver for Provimi Racing at Caesars, he qualified third, got the drop on Andretti and Danny Sullivan in the first turn, led the first 10 laps and finished third. Last year at LVMS, he came from 12th starting spot to take the lead on Lap 58 and led for 22 laps. On Sept. 20, in the inaugural visit by the World Sports Car circuit to LVMS, Paul teamed with Butch Leitzinger for the victory in the 194-mile event on the LVMS road course.

Of drivers on the Las Vegas 500k entry list, Paul Jr., and Roberto Guerrero are the only ones to have competed at Caesars Palace in Indy-style cars in the early '80s. However, Dick Simon (now an engineer for Team Scandia), Johnny Rutherford (now Aurora pace car driver), Al Unser (now IRL driver coach) and A.J. Foyt Jr. (car owner for entries for Davey Hamilton and Billy Boat) also drove in at least one of the previous Vegas races. Unser finished fourth at Caesars and went on to win the series title in 1983. ABC Sports analyst Tom Sneva won the last Caesars Palace race in 1984. From the 1968 Indy-style race at Stardust International Raceway, a three-mile road course, George Snider (who serves as a fueler for AJ Foyt cars) finished fifth and Rutherford, Foyt and Unser also competed as drivers.

Seven drivers have competed in all nine 1996-97 IRL races to date -- Tony Stewart, Davey Hamilton, Eddie Cheever Jr., Arie Luyendyk, Buddy Lazier, Marco Greco and Roberto Guerrero. A total of 51 drivers have at least one 1996-97 IRL start.

A look back: On Sept. 15, 1996, Richie Hearn beat Michel Jourdain Jr., to the flag by 1.693 seconds to win the inaugural IRL race at Las Vegas.

Arie Luyendyk leads the 1996-97 IRL money standings with $2,048,150 after becoming the first driver to earn more than $5,000,000 in prize money at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his "500" victory. Tony Stewart is also over the million-dollar barrier with $1,050,450. Twelve drivers have posted total prize winnings of more than $500,000 for their teams during the season. A total of $17,816,950 in prize winnings have been recorded through the season's first nine races.

Jim Guthrie leads the 1996-97 IRL rookie standings with 155 points, 16 more than second-place Affonso Giaffone. Guthrie needs a 15th-place finish to clinch the rookie title, unless PPG Pole or MBNA Lap Leader bonus points are involved. Guthrie is the only rookie to have won (at Phoenix) but eight of the 22 rookies to start at least one 1996-97 IRL race have led an event.


Four drivers -- Roberto Guerrero, Davey Hamilton, Arie Luyendyk and Tony Stewart have competed in all 12 IRL races to date.

Davey Hamilton is the all-time leader in career IRL racing miles at 2,867.5, followed by Tony Stewart at 2,704. Both could reach 3,000 competitive IRL miles at Las Vegas.

Tony Stewart has led 10 of the 12 IRL races to date, followed by Arie Luyendyk with seven and Buddy Lazier with five.

Tony Stewart has led 904 of 2,365 laps run in IRL history, with Arie Luyendyk second at 242. In all, 28 drivers have led at least a lap of an IRL race.

Tony Stewart has led 1,153 miles of 3,273 possible miles in IRL history, followed by Arie Luyendyk at 356.

Tony Stewart has five career IRL PPG Poles and has an average starting position in 12 races of 3.58. Stewart has started an IRL race out of the top seven only once. Arie Luyendyk is second with four career IRL PPG Poles and an average starting position of 4.50.

Scott Goodyear has the best average finish of IRL regulars at 7.43, followed by Billy Boat at 7.60 and Mike Groff at 7.78.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Butch Leitzinger , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Guerrero , Richie Hearn , Calvin Fish , Mario Andretti , Al Unser Sr. , Bobby Unser , Tom Sneva , Danny Sullivan , Derek Daly , Stan Wattles , John Paul , A.J. Foyt Jr. , Dick Simon , Johnny Rutherford , Michel Jourdain