IRL: Sharp Resets Unofficial Record at Phoenix

SHARP FINDS MORE SPEED, RESETS UNOFFICIAL RECORD AT PHOENIX TEST PHOENIX, Feb. 26, 1998 - Scott Sharp set an unofficial track record for the new Indy Racing League cars for the second consecutive day, recording a fast lap of 20.584 ...


PHOENIX, Feb. 26, 1998 - Scott Sharp set an unofficial track record for the new Indy Racing League cars for the second consecutive day, recording a fast lap of 20.584 seconds, 174.893 mph Thursday during the "Test in the West" at Phoenix International Raceway.

Sharp's best lap around the 1-mile oval in the Delphi Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear was faster than his best lap Wednesday of 20.747, 173.519. Tony Stewart set the track record of 170.012 during qualifying for the Phoenix 200 in March 1997. "From start to finish, the car was perfect to drive," Sharp said. "It's amazing to do the speeds we're doing when we're down 150 horsepower and have less downforce than we did with the old cars. We're almost at the same speeds."

The IRL introduced new chassis and engines at the start of the 1997 season. The new engines are normally aspirated; the old engines used during 1996 were turbocharged, which produces more power. Arie Luyendyk set the track record for the old IRL cars of 183.599 during the 1996 Phoenix 200.

Defending IRL champion Stewart was second-fastest Thursday at 20.737, 173.603 in the Glidden/Menard G Force/Aurora/Firestone. Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk was third-fastest at 20.982, 171.576 in the Sprint PCS G Force/Aurora/Firestone. IRL testing will end Friday with private tire testing by Goodyear and Firestone. The Phoenix 200, the second race of the 1998 Pep Boys IRL schedule, is scheduled for March 22.

TOP 10 UNOFFICIAL TOP TIMES, SPEEDS OF THE DAY Driver Team Car/Engine/Tire Time Speed Scott Sharp Kelley Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 20.584 174.893 Tony Stewart Team Menard G Force/Aurora/Firestone 20.737 173.603 Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing G Force/Aurora/Firestone 20.982 171.576 Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.010 171.347 Jimmy Kite Team Scandia Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.018 171.282 Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.120 170.455 Eddie Cheever Jr. Team Cheever Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.16 170.116 Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear 21.188 169.907 Kenny Brack A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara*/AuroraGoodyear 21.236 169.523 Robbie Buhl Team Menard G Force/Aurora/Firestone 21.282 169.157 * -- backup car


Big leap for Arie: Defending Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk jumped to third-fastest overall Thursday with a lap of 20.982 seconds, 171.576 mph in the Sprint PCS G Force/Aurora/Firestone. That's quite an improvement from the 21.757, 165.464 on Wednesday that was only 13th-fastest.

"The car feels good," said Luyendyk, a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz. "We're getting a chance to try things, but the car still needs to be more comfortable. So we still need to try some more."


Nice deal: If IRL driver Billy Boat had his choice, he would test year-round at Phoenix International Raceway. Boat was fourth-fastest at 21.010 seconds, 171.347 mph Thursday in the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by A.J. Foyt, a good reason to like the track. But there's an even better reason for Boat to be attached to PIR: He lives in Phoenix. "I really enjoy testing at PIR," Boat said. "It is an asset to sleep in your own bed and shower in your own shower. It's a much more relaxed atmosphere."


Thomas Knapp lands sponsor: Aphelion Technologies, Inc. (Aptex), an automated machine builder and systems integrator based in Roanoke, Va., will sponsor Thomas Knapp Motorsport and driver Greg Ray this season in Indy Racing League competition.

Ray finished 25th in the season-opening Indy 200 on Jan. 24 at Walt Disney World Speedway near Orlando, Fla.

"We are very pleased to have joined forces with Aptex," Ray said. "With the addition of Aptex to our team, we are able to combine the strengths of our respective technical and financial programs to achieve our only goal, to win." Aptex manufactures packaging, robotic, inspection, extruding, machining, electronic control systems and other systems for many industries. "Aptex is entering the IRL due to the series' technical and high-profile images," said Scott Repsher, Aphelion president. "The IRL showcases the classic battle and marriage of man and machine. Aptex sees this as closely matching their own approach."


Racetrack becomes classroom: Six Speedway (Ind.) High School students received hands-on experience Thursday while conducting a live, satellite telecast to other Indiana schools from Phoenix International Raceway.

The students worked with Team Scandia, an IRL race team, to produce a 50-minute telecast about the use of math and science principles in motorsports. Students performed all aspects of production, including on-air commentary, camera work, audio engineering, script writing and video production.

        "Flying down here to Arizona today as a student is a great
opportunity,"  said John DeBoer, a Speedway senior who served as on-camera
interviewer.  "There's nothing else like this out there for us." 

Said Jennifer Goodman, a Speedway senior: "I'm going to college for business marketing. I got interested in this field when we went to IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park) for a seminar. I really liked it, got involved in this project and went from there." Team Scandia worked with the students to cover topics such as the economics of owning and managing a race team, and technology in racing.

"This video is going back to high schools in Indiana," said Jeff Braun of Team Scandia. "I have an engineering degree, and I wish someone had done this when I was in school. Hopefully it will inspire the kids to get an engineering or science degree."

The program at PIR was an outgrowth of an interactive educational TV program called Distance Learning. Before this assignment, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and Speedway High School joined forces this year to bring interactive educational television to schools around Indiana in a distance learning program called "Indy, A Quest for Speed."


On the mend: Scott Simpson, PIR director of public relations, returned to work Thursday, a week after undergoing surgery to install a heart pacemaker.

Dr. Jeremy Torstveit, a renowned heart surgeon from Phoenix, performed the three-hour procedure last Thursday. Torstveit also is a successful Federal-Mogul Dragster driver in NHRA drag racing competition.

Simpson was released from the hospital Tuesday.

"I've got my own warranty card and owner's manual," Simpson said, laughing. "I feel good. I'd like to thank everybody for their get-well wishes and support."


Broadcast schedule: The Phoenix 200 will be televised live on ABC at 4 p.m. (EST) March 22. Qualifying will be televised live on Speedvision at 2 p.m. (EST) March 21. The IMS Radio Network will broadcast the race live at 4 p.m. (EST) March 22, with a pre-race show starting at 3:30. The IMS Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute qualifying show at 5:30 p.m. (EST) March 21.


Phoenix 200 tickets: Tickets for the Phoenix 200 are available by calling Phoenix International Raceway at (602) 252-2227.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jimmy Kite , Kenny Brack , A.J. Foyt
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises