IRL: Phoneix Friday notes and quotes

Friday March 22, 1996 Indy Racing League: Notes & Quotes From Phoenix A scholarship fund has been established by the family of Robert W. Hemelgarn, who died earlier this week. Mr. Hemelgarn was the father of Ron Hemelgarn, the long-time ...

Friday March 22, 1996 Indy Racing League: Notes & Quotes From Phoenix

A scholarship fund has been established by the family of Robert W. Hemelgarn, who died earlier this week. Mr. Hemelgarn was the father of Ron Hemelgarn, the long-time Indianapolis car owner and he was an active enthusiast of the family's racing program. The scholarship fund is designed to financially help deserving young students to further their education in the industrial or mechanical arts, whether in college or trade school. An annual scholarship will be awarded to a student at Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio and also a student at Mason High School in Erie, Mich. Contributions may be sent to the Robert W. Hemelgarn Memorial Scholarship Fund, 2515 W. Stein Road, LaSalle, MI 48145-9707.


Word reached the track today that Cal Palmer, wife of long-time motorsports broadcaster Lou Palmer, died this morning in Indianapolis.


Chevrolet will be the title sponsor of the inaugural Chevrolet Desert Star Classic, scheduled for April 20-21 at Phoenix International Raceway and featuring five divisions of racing: the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, SCCA Trans-Am Championship, SCCA World Challenge Touring Division, USAC National Sprint Car Series and United States Formula Ford 2000. A full news release is available by asking personnel behind the counter in the infield press facility.


Johnny O'Connell of Chandler is a veteran of the P.I.R. road course, but has limited time on the Desert Mile.

"I'm used to racing on the road course and enjoy it," O'Connell said this morning. "I've only been on the oval a few times. I think I should do pretty good out there. I'm used to Turns 3 and 4 of the oval as they're part of the road course but I'm not used to Turns 1 and 2. I'm afraid at the drop of the green I'll take the hard left on to the road course."


Indy Racing League: First Practice Session

Track record is 19.785 seconds, 181.952 miles per hour by Bryan Herta on April 1, 1995.

First Group:

10:40 a.m. -- #21 Roberto Guerrero was first out for practice. 10:49 a.m. -- #91 Buddy Lazier topped the practice speed chart at 175.370, with a trap speed of 191. 10:55 a.m. -- #20 Tony Stewart topped the practice speed chart at 176.887 with a trap speed of 196. 10:57 a.m. -- #5 Arie Luyendyk topped the practice speed chart at 179.345 with a trap speed of 196. 10:58 a.m. -- #5 Luyendyk topped the practice speed chart at 179.435 with a trap speed of 197. 11:03 a.m. -- #20 Stewart was the first to hit 200 miles an hour in the trap with the second fastest lap at 178.696. 11:09 a.m. -- #20 Stewart became the first driver to exceed 180 miles an hour with a lap at 180.144 with a trap speed of 191. END GROUP

TONY STEWART (fastest of session at 180.144): "Because of the heat we needed to change our setup a little bit. Even with this heat, with a couple of adjustments, we can come close to the record. If the weather cools down, the record is definitely within reach. The track's in good shape. It doesn't seem to matter what I drive here, midget or sprint car, this track's always maintained very well."

ARIE LUYENDYK (second fastest of session at 179.435): "We should be a lot quicker now. We set our quick time on our first lap. We never had an opportunity after that because we were fighting boost problems the rest of the session. It (the boost) kept dumping into the 43s. The car's handling really well. Of course it's pretty easy to drive when you're no running as fast as you should be. You won't see any quick times out of us this afternoon. We're going to run the session on full tanks."

ROBERTO GUERRERO (third fastest of session at 177.998): "We seem to get caught up a little bit on speed during the sessions but it's the race we need to focus on, right?"


Second Group:

11:57 a.m. -- #3 Eddie Cheever became the first driver of the second group to crack the top 10 for the session with a lap of 169.924, putting him eighth. 12:02 p.m. -- #3 Cheever moved to fifth place with a lap at 174.732. 12:08 p.m. -- #3 Cheever moved to fourth place with a lap at 176.393. 12:10 p.m. -- Yellow, #25 Racin Gardner stalled in Turn 1. 12:24 p.m. -- #3 Cheever remained fourth with a fast lap of 177.218.

Paul Durant completed the final phase of his USAC drivers' test and is cleared to drive. Johnny Unser, who had a two-phase refresher that was requested, has completed one phase and has one remaining. Racin Gardner did not complete the third phase or start the fourth phase yet today.

PAUL DURANT: "As far as I know, I passed. The Indy cars and super modifieds are very similar. The corner speeds are much greater in the Indy cars but there really is no big difference with the horsepower. So far as power, there seems to be a little less power in the Indy cars. Somehow, it doesn't seem real to be in an Indy car yet. The heat is probably a factor in performance but I don't know enough about the Indy cars to know the actual effects of the heat."

EDDIE CHEEVER (fastest of group): "We are real pleased with our practice session. This is a brand-new car after our crash. The car ran really well right off the trailer. We have a little push we were fighting during the session and have a little more work to do to dial it in. I think we have a shot at the pole, and if it cools off, a good shot at setting the record."


According to NASCAR Craftsman SuperTruck Series representative Owen Kearns, two of the drivers participating here in Dura-Lube 200 weekend will return next month for the Chevrolet Desert Star Classic. Lance Norick of Edmond, Okla., who is running a US FF2000 car, will be in the Walker Evans Dodge. Johnny Unser of Sun Valley, Idaho, who is driving the Project Indy IRL machine, will make his truck debut in Scoop Vessels' Chevrolet.

Jonathan Byrd, co-car owner of the #5 Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria/Bryant Heating and Cooling IRL entry, is expanding his business interests to include hotel ownership. Groundbreaking took place March 15 for Byrd's new Holiday Inn Express at I-10 and Litchfield Road across from the Wigwam Outlet Mall. The three-story hotel is slated for completion Sept. 1, with 90 rooms, including six two-room suites and 30 executive suites. A number of P.I.R. officials and other local dignitaries attended the groundbreaking.


Parnelli Jones, Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser and Bobby Unser, racing legends with 11 Indianapolis 500 victories, have joined forces to start the Indy Legends Driving School, designed to attract non-racers who are searching for an unforgettable thrill of a lifetime. The inaugural school is scheduled for Sept. 24-27 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, featuring personalized instruction from the four drivers and teaching professionals at Track Attack (formerly Fast Company) driving school.


Indy Racing League: Second Practice Session

2:43 p.m. -- Green flag. 2:52 p.m. -- Yellow, #3 Eddie Cheever hit wall between Turns 3 and 4. Cheever was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital for evaluation of a concussion and left shoulder pain. He was awake, stable and in otherwise good condition. The car sustained damage to both rear corners, the gearbox and the right front.

3:24 p.m. -- Yellow, #17 Stan Wattles hit wall in Turn 2. Wattles was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital for evaluation of a concussion and a right shin injury. He was awake, stable and in otherwise good condition. The car sustained rear end and rear wing damage.

3:42 p.m. -- Yellow, #91 Buddy Lazier and #90 Lyn St. James tangled in Turn 2. St. James was examined and released from the track first-aid station with a bruised right leg. Lazier was transported by Air Evac helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital for evaluation of a concussion and a possible back injury. Lazier was awake, alert and moving all extremities. Car #90 sustained damage to all four corners and rear end. Car #91 sustained rear end, right front suspension and right rear and left rear suspension damage.

ST. JAMES: "He (Lazier) passed me inside, down low and cleared me. He went way low and then the back end came around. I didn't have enough room to avoid it. I hit him with my foot on the brakes. There was so much dust at that point, I couldn't tell (where both cars hit)."

RICHIE HEARN (fastest of session): "The wind was causing havoc out here. We gave up on gaining a good time for the session. There was nice balance. In Turn 4, it changed so much. We expected the can always count on that out here. Back during the IRL 'Test in the West', it was cold and the times were good. But the heat today is definitely a problem. If the wind dies down, you'll see a track record on Saturday."


Lee Kunzman, team manager for Hemelgarn Racing, said the right side panel on the rear wing of Buddy Lazier's #91 machine came off on the front straight. "The carbon fiber delaminated," Kunzman said. "The bolts were still in but the honeycomb fell apart. We don't know if it had any effect on the wreck."


The second group of IRL practice was canceled this afternoon because of a gouge in the track where the Lazier-St. James accident occurred in Turn 2. Quick-setting concrete was used to repair the gouge, which measured two inches wide by 10 inches long and was two inches deep. Track and sanctioning body officials were concerned that the patch would not hold up on an immediate basis under the G loads of the Indianapolis cars, so the schedule proceeded on to Shelby Pro Series qualifying. The Indianapolis cars will return to the track Saturday as scheduled. Fence in the Turn 2 area was also repaired.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Arie Luyendyk , Roberto Guerrero , Bryan Herta , Johnny O'Connell , Lance Norick , Lyn St. James , Al Unser Sr. , Bobby Unser , Parnelli Jones , Stan Wattles , Johnny Unser , Johnny Rutherford