>Subject: Walt Disney World 200, 1/25/97 by Len Ashburn It looked like it was all his at the three quarters mark, 150 miles or so, of the 2nd Annual Walt Disney World 200 by Aurora. He had covered the field of 19 cars and lapped every car...
>Subject: Walt Disney World 200, 1/25/97 by Len Ashburn
It looked like it was all his at the three quarters mark, 150 miles or so, of the 2nd Annual Walt Disney World 200 by Aurora. He had covered the field of 19 cars and lapped every car but one but it was not to be for the Rushville Rocket, Tony Stewart in his Menard's/Glidden Special G- Force Aurora V-8 number 2.
Stewart spun in the notorious turn three, on his lap number 147, tagged the wall lightly with the rear wing, then slid sideways nose to the infield, flat spotting and flattening all four tires. His machine was trucked to the pits for new shoes but, alas, something else was broken and the dejected youngster stepped from the car. Four laps later, it began to rain.
Buzz Calkins really deserved a repeat win in his unsponsored Bradley Special. He remained at the front nearly all day despite gear box problems and a smoking motor. He was floating in a close second at the second round of pit stops but his motor finally expired five laps before the rain came on lap 149, ending his valiant display of tenacity.
Eddie Cheever, Jr. drove a heady race in his First Plus G-Force/Aurora behind the fleet Stewart and was strong in the hunt. With Stewart and Calkins now pitside, when the rain called a halt to the contest there he sat in number one spot, having never led a lap under green, ahead of Mike Groff, Scott Goodyear, Scott Sharp, and '96 Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier. Down one lap was Jim Gutherie and Davey Hamilton.
Rounding out the top ten two laps down were Marco Greco, Fermin Velez, and Tony Stewart who was three laps down from sitting in the pits while officials sorted out the yellow sequence before rain brought out the red.
The WDW 200, to the surprise of many naysayers, ran past the halfway point with NO yellows until rookie Jeret Schroder spun all alone and caused second place runner Arie Luyendyk to park it against the inside armco barrier as he tried to miss Schroder.
As the sky darkened, the race restarted on lap 106 but the vapor coming off the wings of the faster cars said that rain was probably not far off. With Calkins motor slowly frying Stewart has passed Cheever for the lead only to experience his spin on the same lap. This put Cheever back at the top of the order where all he had to do was wait for the sky to fall. Cheever slipped from his cockpit and sought shelter beneath the skyboxes as umbrellas and congratulations appeared. The untimate victor did not acknowledge his win until it was official declared and he was escorted to the Victory circle in the media center.
While the WDW 200 (Roman II) might not have been in the 'classic category' of motorsport, it was much anticipated and full of action and suspense. The race was well managed by the IRL and USAC and no apologies are due. Everyone at Disney reeks of fun and good humor. They go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome.
The teams gained lots of knowledge to share between now and Phoenix, some eight weeks hence, March 23, 1997.