IRL: Phoenix testing 97-02-26

For Immediate Release STEWART, SHARP TOP 170 MILES AN HOUR AT THE "TEST IN THE WEST" PHOENIX, Wednesday, February 26, 1997 -- Team Menard driver Tony Stewart was first on the track at Phoenix International Raceway on the third day of the...

For Immediate Release


PHOENIX, Wednesday, February 26, 1997 -- Team Menard driver Tony Stewart was first on the track at Phoenix International Raceway on the third day of the Indy Racing League's "Test in the West" at 10:01 a.m. Stewart took just 6 minutes and 10 laps to tie Scott Sharp's record lap of 21.21 that was set four minutes before the end of practice during Tuesday's open test at the Desert Mile. At 10:48 a.m. Stewart knocked Sharp out of the top spot with a lap at 21.18 seconds. At 11:37 a.m. Tony Stewart was the first driver to break the 170 mile per hour barrier on a one-mile oval in the new IRL cars in only 21.12 seconds and 170.455 miles per hour. At 2:26 p.m. Scott Sharp topped Stewart's hot lap with an even quicker one of 21.09 seconds and 170.697 miles per hour.

TONY STEWART: "Any time you can go to a test and be fastest guy on the track, it's a positive feeling. It gives the crew guys and the owner a good feeling too. It's nice to know that all the work we're doing is paying off. I think we can take what we've learned here at the test. We'll go back and look at all of our notes and maybe we'll find some things where we think we can pick up a little speed." (difference between the Orlando and Phoenix ovals): You don't get the elevation changes here like you do in Orlando and corners seem to be bigger in radius, so there's quite a bit of difference. There's quite a bit of difference actually, Orlando is kind of triangle-shaped while this is more like a traditional oval.

SCOTT SHARP: "We're just playing with the balance, getting a bit more comfortable. I think the speed will come naturally. We've been playing with all the Goodyear tires so we haven't had much chance to work with the car itself." (about the significance of being fastest at the test): "We're running a hundred percent with what's comfortable. It makes no sense to hang the car out to be fastest of the test. Our goal is to come back for the race and really see what we can do."

AJ FOYT: "That was on used tires. The weather is a little better today. This morning, if we got sorted out, I think we would have run in the high 20's (20 second bracket)."


Indy Racing League rookie Sam Schmidt completed the fourth and final phase of rookie orientation today. It was his second time in an Indianapolis-style car.

SAM SCHMIDT (did anything about the car surprise you): "You have to look a lot farther in front of you in these cars, but the longer you run at speed, the better it feels out there. The car has a push that we still have to work on, they have it set up conservatively for me. We left the car set up the way it was yesterday, but the air is a lot more dense today, so that didn't help us out any more."


IRL founder Tony George and Executive Director Leo Mehl spoke at a media luncheon today the Phoenix International Raceway media center.

TONY GEORGE: "'The Test in the West' gives an opportunity for everyone to see how everyone stacks up against one another at the same time, at the same track, under the same conditions. This week has been very interesting. One story I've been interested in following is the effort of Blueprint Racing. I think Jim Guthrie is doing a tremendous job. Similarly, Galles with Kenny Brack ... they've done a great job here. They've certainly shown that they're working very closely as a group to perform."

LEO MEHL: "When we first came to Phoenix, the food wasn't nearly as good. The first driver who spun had to cook the hamburgers. This test is much better than the array of cars and teams that we had at Orlando. They've come along a great deal in a short period of time."

Video footage of the "Test in the West" will be available via satellite on Thursday, February 27, from 3 - 3:15 p.m. (EST). Satellite information - SBS-6, Transponder 15. Downlink Frequency 12068 mHz Vertical. Audio 6.2 - 6.8. Video footage will include interviews with the fastest IRL drivers during the test week, IRL officials and B-roll.


Nine Indy Racing League drivers have won races at Phoenix International Raceway. Davey Hamilton has 4 super modified wins. Tony Stewart is the current track record holder in USAC midgets at the 1997 Copper World. Fermin Velez won the World Sports car race here in 1995. Mike Groff won the Indy Lights race in 1989, the same year he won the series championship. Roberto Guerrero took first place in the Desert Mile's fastest CART race in 1987. Arie Luyendyk won the CART race here in 1991 and the IRL race in 1996. Jim Guthrie won the SCCA National sports car race in 1995 and the 1994 Formula Ford 2000 road course race. Sam Schmidt won the 1996 Formula Ford 2000 race, the 1994 Shelby Can-Am road course and the 1993 SCCA Regional 2000 road course race. Billy Boat won the Midget feature in the 1996 Copper World.


Glendale, Arizona resident Billy Boat took his first laps in a test for Team Menard on Wednesday afternoon.

BILLY BOAT: "I was just trying to work up to it. They have the car pretty safe, pretty neutral. I'm just trying to get comfortable. The car feels a little more forgiving (than last year's car). It's not quite as positive on the front. I didn't get to run last year's car enough to get a real good feel. The car feels great."


CAR DRIVER/CAR NAME C/E/T LAPS TIME SPEED 1T Scott Sharp G/A/G 61 21.09 170.697 Conseco AJ Foyt Racing 2T Tony Stewart G/A/F 69 21.12 170.455 Glidden/Menard/Special 14 Davey Hamilton D/A/G 43 21.52 167.286 AJ Foyt/Power Team Racing 27 R Jim Guthrie D/A/F 85 21.55 167.053 Blueprint Racing 4 R Kenny Brack G/A/G 102 21.64 166.358 Monsoon Galles Racing 12 Buzz Calkins G/A/G 76 21.69 165.975 Bradley Motorsports 51 Eddie Cheever, Jr. G/A/G 153 21.71 165.822 FirstPlus Team Cheever 18 John Paul, Jr. D/A/G 150 21.74 165.593 Tnemec Earl's Performance Products V-Line 6 Scott Goodyear G/A/F 133 21.79 165.213 Treadway Racing/NORTEL 2T Billy Boat G/A/F 73 21.90 164.383

Glidden/Menard/Special 33 Fermin Velez D/A/G 51 21.90 164.383 Mi-Jack Scandia Alta Xcel Royal Purple 22 Marco Greco D/A/G 115 22.00 163.636 Int'l Sports Ltd/Scandia/Alta/Xcel/Royal Purple 5 Arie Luyendyk G/A/F 71 22.01 163.562 Treadway Racing/WavePhore 21 Roberto Guerrero D/I/G 29 22.05 163.265 Pennzoil Racing 77 Stephan Gregoire G/A/G 41 22.78 158.033 Miller-Eads Co./Chastain Motorsports 30 R Jeret Schroeder G/A/G 29 22.91 157.136 McCormack Motorsports 10 Mike Groff G/I/F 16 23.17 155.373 Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria Bryant Heating & Cooling 16 R Sam Schmidt D/A/F 34 23.17 155.373 Blueprint Racing *18 R Tyce Carlson 93/L/B/G 10 23.52 153.061 PDM Racing 40 R Jack Miller D/I/F 3 shake down AMS/Crest Racing

Chassis Legend: D-Dallara; G-G Force Engine Legend: A-Oldsmobile Aurora; I-Nissan Infiniti Tire Legend: F-Firestone; G-Goodyear

*Driver's test conditions.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Eddie Cheever , Stephan Gregoire , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Jeret Schroeder , Roberto Guerrero , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Tyce Carlson , Tony George , Fermin Velez , John Paul , Jack Miller