June 7, 1997 - Texas Motor Speedway Johnny Unser finishes 8th in TrueValue 500 Johnny Unser posted his highest IRL finish tonight at Texas Motor Speedway, bringing the Bryant Heating & Cooling car home in 8th place. It was Byrd/Cunningham...
June 7, 1997 - Texas Motor Speedway
Johnny Unser finishes 8th in TrueValue 500
Johnny Unser posted his highest IRL finish tonight at Texas Motor Speedway, bringing the Bryant Heating & Cooling car home in 8th place. It was Byrd/Cunningham Racing's second consecutive race as the highest finishing Infiniti powered car, and a satisfying result for a team that lost it's primary car and two motors during practice, and a driver who had to start from 23rd position.
The race began with a caution for Marco Greco, who spun on the first lap, and continued to be filled with yellow flags for accidents and mechanical failures. The team did an excellent job in planning pit strategy to make use of these yellows and put Johnny back on the track to contend for position. After the initial caution, Johnny began to move up slowly from the back of the field. Although he lacked horsepower, he was able to make up for it with smooth consistent laps, avoiding accidents and oil spills and saving the car for the end of the race.
By the halfway point of the race, Johnny had worked his way up to 12th position, and was continuing to move up through the field. At lap 132, he had moved into the top 10, and by lap178, he was running in 7th place. With 20 laps remaining, he was passed by Vicenzo Sospiri and Scott Goodyear, both of whom were in much faster Aurora powered cars, but he was able to reclaim 8th spot before the final yellow flag came out to end the race.
This finish marks Johnny's highest IRL finish, his previous best was a 9th place finish at the 1996 Duralube 200 in Phoenix. Johnny was thrilled with his drive tonight, not only for himself, but he was glad that he could bring home a solid top ten finish for the Jonathan Byrd/Cunningham team, and continue their lead in the IRL owner's points division. He was full of praise for the work that the entire team did to ready the car for racing, and grateful for the chance to drive for such a prestigious team.
We will have more updates in the next few days, including some quotes and a race recap from Johnny.
**The unofficial final results are listed below. The IRL has not posted the official times yet because of a protest by Arie Luyendyk. Luyendyk feels that the IRL did not count one of his laps, and that he actually was the winner of this race. The IRL is reviewing the results at this time to make sure that their scoring is correct. There was some sort of altercation after the race as Luyendyk tried to enter victory circle, Arie claimed that he had won the race and AJ Foyt, the owner of the first & second place cars prevented Arie from entering the area.
************************** Johnny Unser Racing http://www.unser-racing.com **************************
1997 True Value 500 Unofficial Results - Courtesy of IRL Pos - Laps - Driver - Starting Pos - Seconds/Laps Behind 1) 208 1 Billy Boat (21) 2) 208 14 Davey Hamilton (9) 5.487 3) 208 5 Arie Luyendyk (11) 15.448 4) 206 2 Tony Stewart (1) - 2 5) 206 7 Eliseo Salazar (22) - 2 6) 205 51 Eddie Cheever, Jr. (7) - 3 7) 205 8 Vicenzo Sospiri (17) - 3 8) 204 10 Johnny Unser (23) - 4 9) 204 6 Scott Goodyear (5) - 4 10) 204 97 Greg Ray (6) - 4 11) 203 28 Mark Dismore (14) - 5 12) 202 34 Alessandro Zampedri (26) - 6 13) 202 21 Roberto Guerrero (15) - 6 14) 184 18 Tyce Carlson (25) - 24 15) 173 30 Robbie Groff (13) - 35 Out of Race 16) 167 3 Robbie Buhl (2) - 41 Out of Race 17) 157 91 Buddy Lazier (4) - 51 Out of Race 18) 118 4 Kenny Brack (3) - 90 Out of Race 19) 98 12 Buzz Calkins (10) -110 Out of Race 20) 82 17 Affonso Giaffone (16) -126 Out of Race 21) 81 27 Jim Guthrie (8) -127 Out of Race 22) 36 44 Allen May (18) -172 Out of Race 23) 36 16 Sam Schmidt (20) -172 Out of Race 24) 24 40 Dr. Jack Miller (19) -184 Out of Race 25) 1 33 Fermin Velez (24) -207 Out of Race 26) 0 22 Marco Greco (12) -208 Out of Race