IRL: Phoenix Aurora Qualifing

TEN STRAIGHT POLES FOR AURORA V8 Oldsmobile Engines Power Entire 28-Car Field in Phoenix Phoenix; March 21, 1998 -- Oldsmobile's production-based IRL Aurora V8 racing engine continued its domination of Pep Boys Indy...

TEN STRAIGHT POLES FOR AURORA V8

Oldsmobile Engines Power Entire 28-Car Field in Phoenix

Phoenix; March 21, 1998 -- Oldsmobile's production-based IRL Aurora V8 racing engine continued its domination of Pep Boys Indy Racing League competition today at Phoenix International Raceway. Jeff Ward, the 1997 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, put ISM Racing's Team Tabasco Oldsmobile-powered Indy car on the pole for the Dura-Lube 200, the second round of the 11-race series.

Ward extended the IRL Aurora V8's perfect IRL qualifying record to ten consecutive poles since the series introduced its 4.0-liter engine formula in January, 1997. The entire field of 28 starters will use Oldsmobile engines; the lone Infiniti entry failed to qualify.

Ward circled the fast 1.0-mile Phoenix oval at 172.753 mph to capture his first IRL pole. Billy Boat qualified A.J. Foyt's entry on the outside of the front row, and reigning IRL champion Tony Stewart was the third quickest qualifier. The top ten qualifiers all bettered the previous 170.012 mph track record, set at last year's event by Tony Stewart.

"I knew we had a car that could do it," said Ward. "I hit the rev limiter [10,500 rpm as specified by IRL regulations], and that might have hurt the speed a little. I've always concentrated on the race setup instead of qualifying. We'll put more downforce in the car for race day."

The spread between the 24 fastest qualifiers was less than one second; the top four qualifiers were separated by less than four hundredths of a second. "Everywhere we go this year, to win the pole or even get in the field, you're going to have to step it up," said Boat, who ran 172.521 mph in A.J. Foyt's Conseco entry. "A lot of guys are running their engines harder."

"The increase in qualifying speeds today shows the progress that has been made in Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 engine program," commented Joe Negri, GM Motorsports IRL/Road Racing Group Manager. "With the engine upgrades we have developed, a typical IRL Aurora V8 has gained 30 horsepower.

"The biggest challenge now is keeping up with the demand for parts while maintaining a high level of quality," Negri noted. "There are twice as many teams running Oldsmobile engines as there were at last year's event, and the teams are running their engines significantly harder. They're running right on the rev limiter, so the demands on the engines have increased substantially."

The Dura-Lube 200 is scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. local time on Sunday, March 22. The race will be televised live on ABC.

DURA-LUBE 200 TOP TEN QUALIFIERS Driver Entrant Engine Speed Row 1 Jeff Ward ISM Racing Oldsmobile 172.753 mph Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Ent. Oldsmobile 172.521 Row 2 Tony Stewart Team Menard Oldsmobile 172.505 Jimmy Kite Team Scandia Oldsmobile 172.480 Row 3 Kenny Brack A.J. Foyt Ent. Oldsmobile 171.404 Eliseo Salazar R & S Cars Oldsmobile 171.241 Row 4 Davey Hamilton Nienhouse Mtrspts Oldsmobile 170.754 Scott Sharp Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 170.535 Row 5 Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Oldsmobile 170.124 J.J. Yeley SRS Oldsmobile 170.018

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 21-Mar-1998

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Jimmy Kite , Kenny Brack , J.J. Yeley , A.J. Foyt