STEWART FASTEST AMONG VETERANS, TYLER PASSES TEST INDIANAPOLIS, April 16, 1998 - Defending Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart jumped into his teammate's car Thursday to turn the fastest lap, 220.302 mph, of the first day...
STEWART FASTEST AMONG VETERANS, TYLER PASSES TEST
INDIANAPOLIS, April 16, 1998 - Defending Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart jumped into his teammate's car Thursday to turn the fastest lap, 220.302 mph, of the first day of the inaugural Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Stewart drove his fast lap in the Johns Manville-Menards Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone normally driven by Robbie Buhl. The two Team Menard drivers combined to drive 69 laps in the car on the 2.5-mile oval. Stewart, the current league points leader, only managed a fast lap of 214.761 in his Glidden-Menards Special G Force/Aurora/Firestone, prompting him to try Buhl's Dallara chassis.
"The car is really good, and I think we made a great stride today by doing that one run," Stewart said. "We pretty much made the decision that the Dallara is probably the way we're going to go."
Stewart, Scott Sharp (219.555), Scott Goodyear (219.223) and Eddie Cheever Jr. (218.707) each were faster than the 1997 pole speed of 218.263 mph set by Arie Luyendyk, who went on to win the race. Luyendyk was eighth-fastest Thursday at 216.685 in the Sprint PCS-Radio Shack-Qualcomm G Force/Aurora/Firestone.
Brian Tyler, two-time defending USAC sprint champion, passed all four phases of the Rookie Orientation Program in the Chitwood Motorsports Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear normally driven by Andy Michner. Tyler lost the Chitwood ride to Michner on Tuesday. Tyler is the 10th rookie to become eligible to participate in the Indianapolis 500. He is one of eight drivers who passed either the ROP or Refresher Program this week. Jack Hewitt and Stan Wattles also are eligible to participate because they passed three of the four phases of the ROP this week. They can finish the ROP on May 10, opening day of the race. Twenty-five cars completed 1,127 laps Thursday. There was only one incident, as Jeff Ward spun while exiting Turn 1, slid through the short chute and hit the wall in Turn 2 with the left side of the #55 ISM Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. Ward was unhurt and cleared to drive by Dr. Henry Bock, Speedway medical director. The Open Test continues at 9 a.m. (CDT) Friday. Goodyear and Firestone will conduct tire tests Saturday.
The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 24. Pole Day is May 16; the final day of qualifying is May 17. ***
PERFORMANCE HISTORY OF THE DAY FROM OPEN TESTING, ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM Car No. Driver C/E/T Laps Top Speed 3 T. Stewart/R. Buhl D/A/F 69* 220.302 8 Scott Sharp D/A/G 72 219.555 4 Scott Goodyear G/A/G 110 219.223 51 Eddie Cheever Jr. D/A/G 46 218.707 99 Sam Schmidt D/A/F 82 217.423 15 Eliseo Salazar R/A/G 54 217.386 28 Mark Dismore D/A/G 94 217.082 5 Arie Luyendyk G/A/F 65 216.685 6 Davey Hamilton G/A/G 21 215.838 1 Tony Stewart G/A/F 35 214.761 91 Buddy Lazier D/A/G 55 213.904 21 Roberto Guerrero D/A/G 30 213.129 97 Greg Ray D/A/F 23 212.079 40T Dr. Jack Miller D/I/F 21 211.894 55 J. Guthrie/J. Ward G/A/G 87** 211.516 21T Roberto Guerrero D/A/G 26 211.168 52 Eddie Cheever Jr. D/A/G 32 210.956 20 Tyce Carlson D/A/G 9 210.182 10 Mike Groff G/A/F 48 209.113 52 Robby Unser D/A/G 14 206.911 17 Brian Tyler D/A/G 58 206.740 40 Dr. Jack Miller D/I/F 9 206.555 30 Raul Boesel G/I/G 44 206.323 19 Stan Wattles R/A/G 23 199.791 *-- Tony Stewart and Robbie Buhl combined to drive 69 laps in the #3 car. Stewart recorded the fastest lap of 220.302 mph. **-- Jim Guthrie and Jeff Ward combined to drive 87 laps in the #55 car. Key: D-Dallara; G-G Force; R-Riley & Scott; A-Aurora; I-Infiniti; F-Firestone; G-Goodyear