IRL: Pikes Peak Oldsmobile Qualifying Report

IRL Aurora V8 Streaks to 16th Straight Pole at Radisson 200 Fountain, Colo.; August 15, 1998 - Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 turned in another peak performance today in Oldsmobile Pole Day qualifying for Sunday's Radisson 200 at mile-high...

IRL Aurora V8 Streaks to 16th Straight Pole at Radisson 200

Fountain, Colo.; August 15, 1998 - Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 turned in another peak performance today in Oldsmobile Pole Day qualifying for Sunday's Radisson 200 at mile-high Pikes Peak International Raceway. Billy Boat won his third IRL pole of the season and the fourth of his career in A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. Boat extended the IRL Aurora V8's pole-winning streak to 16 straight races.

Boat, the polewinner at Indianapolis and Loudon earlier this year, turned a record-setting lap at 178.571 mph on the 1.0-mile speedway. Jeff Ward put ISM Racing's Aurora/G-Force on the outside front row at 178.218 mph. Defending champion Tony Stewart was the third quickest qualifier in Team Menard's Oldsmobile Dallara, and Mark Dismore was fourth quickest in Kelley Racing's Aurora-equipped entry. The six fastest qualifiers eclipsed the 176.117 mph track record set by Scott Sharp in his pole-winning run at last year's inaugural IRL race at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Boat won the pole in his comeback after missing two races while recovering from a broken leg he sustained in an accident at New Hampshire International Speedway on June 28. Both Boat and car owner Foyt, who had minor surgery on his right knee, are walking with crutches this weekend.

THE AURORA ADVANTAGE. Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 continued to be the engine of choice in the Indy Racing League as 23 of the 24 qualifiers (96% of the field) for the Radisson 200 used Oldsmobile engines. The nine fastest drivers relied on Oldsmobile power. The lone Nissan driver qualified tenth fastest at 175.038 mph.

OLDSMOBILE QUALIFYING QUOTES: Billy Boat, polewinner: "The car was really the best it had been all weekend. We had a little cloud cover when we went out, and that might have helped. The car was perfect; I could run almost flat out all the way around. I couldn't ask for much more.

"I feel the best when I'm out there driving. You get all that adrenaline going and you're concentrating so hard on driving. I don't feel the injury or even think about it when I'm in the race car. I'll probably be sore on Sunday; but it hurts less the faster you go. When we were 15th, it hurt a lot more than when we were up front.

"We've missed two races, but when we went out, we were in the hunt for the championship. If we're going to have any hope of getting back into the top of the points, we're going to have to try to win every pole and every race. That's the attitude we have to have. I had great incentive to come back - we have a winning race team."

A.J. Foyt, car owner: "We came here with two experimental race cars with new suspension parts. They were slower than we expected, so I made the decision to go to our back-up cars. We had information on the setup from last year; so we put the experimental cars back in the truck. It looks like that was the right decision. Sometimes you have to swallow your ego and take a step backward.

"Now we'll put our race motors in the cars for tomorrow. This is a tricky little race track; you can't push the front end, you've just got to be able to get around this joint." (On six drivers breaking the previous track record): "This is a new series. We've learned a lot more about the engines, a lot more about the chassis, and a lot more about the gearboxes. Instead of having six speeds in qualifying, we have two speeds. I changed the gear in Billy's transmission before qualifying so he wouldn't get on the rev limiter. You're working with your team, your mechanics, and really fine-tuning the entire operation.

"In the IRL, you can control the engine yourself. In the other series, the motors are controlled by the manufacturers. What's making this league good is that if you make a mistake, you can only blame yourself. If you've got a dollar, you can buy the same equipment that I can. That's what's making this series grow."

ENGINE BUILDER SCORE CARD. The three fastest qualifiers represent three different Oldsmobile engine builders: Katech, Inc. (polewinner Billy Boat); Comptech Machine (Jeff Ward, outside front row); and Team Menard (Tony Stewart, inside second row).

RACING IN THIN AIR. The mile-high altitude at PPIR affects the naturally aspirated engines that power the IRL's new-generation Indy cars. A typical IRL Aurora V8 engine produces over 700 horsepower at sea level, but the lower barometric pressure at PPIR reduces its output by 10 to 12 percent to approximately 630 horsepower. The Delco Decise electronic engine management system that is used by Oldsmobile teams automatically adjusts the fuel and ignition system calibrations to compensate for the lower air density at high altitudes.

TV TIME. The Radisson 200 will be televised live on ABC on Sunday afternoon, August 16, at 4:00 p.m. EDT.


Driver Entrant Engine Speed

Billy Boat    A.J. Foyt Ent.    Oldsmobile    176.571 mph
Jeff Ward     ISM Racing        Oldsmobile    178.218
Tony Stewart  Team Menard       Oldsmobile    177.874
Mark Dismore  Kelly Racing      Oldsmobile    176.991
Kenny Brack   A.J. Foyt Ent.    Oldsmobile    176.974

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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 15-Aug-1998

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Kenny Brack , A.J. Foyt