IRL: Phoenix Aurora report

Contact: Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications 408-761-2201 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AURORA V8 SWEEPS IRL PHOENIX 200 Indy Aurora V8 Wins Pole, Leads Every Lap, and Scores Second Straight Victory...

Contact: Rick Voegelin High Performance Communications 408-761-2201

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AURORA V8 SWEEPS IRL PHOENIX 200

Indy Aurora V8 Wins Pole, Leads Every Lap, and Scores Second Straight Victory in IRL Series

Phoenix, Ariz.; March 23, 1997 -- Oldsmobile's production-based 4.0-liter Indy Aurora V8 swept the Phoenix 200 on Phoenix International Raceway's one-mile oval, the second race contested under the Indy Racing League's new 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engine formula.

Nineteen of the 22 starters used Indy Aurora V8 engines, including polesitter Tony Stewart (who won the pole with a speed of 170.012 mph) and the ten fastest qualifiers. Rookie Jim Guthrie started on the outside front row, and led an Aurora 1-2-3-4-5 sweep at the finish to score his first IRL victory. Stewart, Davey Hamilton, Marco Greco and Stephan Gregoire were second through fifth respectively. Five Aurora racers -- Guthrie, Stewart, Affonso Giaffone, Scott Sharp, and Kenny Brack -- led all 200 laps on the desert oval.

"My engine has 860 miles on it since the top end was rebuilt," reported Guthrie, driver for the low-budget Blueprint Racing team. "The Aurora is a fine motor, and NAC Engines builds a great engine.

"I'm living proof that the IRL formula is on target," added Guthrie, who was supported by an all-volunteer crew at Phoenix. "I'll give my crew bonuses, buy a spare motor, and get ready for Indy."

"I have no concerns about the Aurora motor," said Stewart after his pole-winning run. "We've had no engine problems at this race."

     "My engine was good," commented third-place finisher 
Hamilton.  "I put 315 miles on it in testing, practice, and the 
race.  It was the only engine I used this weekend."

The fast Phoenix oval presented a formidable challenge to Aurora teams and GM Motorsports engineers as several engines did fail during the event. "Problems arose at this race that we had not seen previously," commented Joe Negri, GM Motorsports IRL/road racing group manager. "We successfully solved all of the problems that surfaced in pre-season tests and at the first race in Orlando. Now we will address the new problems we encountered this weekend. They were problems we had not seen in thousands of miles of testing, and we can't diagnose the root causes accurately until we disassemble the motors and analyze the components.

"After this race we will have a thorough debriefing with the teams and the eight builders who are currently supplying Aurora V8 engines for the IRL series. We will determine the areas we need to focus on. We are working with a very sharp group of engine specialists, and it doesn't take long for them to come up with solutions.

"I am confident that we will be able to react in time for the Indianapolis 500," Negri added. "Teams have already run 400-mile tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway without problems, and we have successfully completed 500-mile test schedules on the dyno."

The next event for the Indy Aurora V8 will be the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25, 1997.

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 24-Mar-1997

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Stephan Gregoire , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Kenny Brack