For Immediate Release GROFF RUNS FIRST INFINITI LAPS; STEWART REACHES 167.918 IN IRL TESTING AT WALT DISNEY WORLD SPEEDWAY ORLANDO, FLA., January 8, 1997 -- Indy Racing League point leader Mike Groff took the first laps with the new Nissan ...
For Immediate Release
GROFF RUNS FIRST INFINITI LAPS; STEWART REACHES 167.918 IN IRL TESTING AT WALT DISNEY WORLD SPEEDWAY
ORLANDO, FLA., January 8, 1997 -- Indy Racing League point leader Mike Groff took the first laps with the new Nissan Infiniti Indy engine Wednesday morning at Walt Disney World Speedway.
Groff drove Jonathan Byrd/Cunningham Racing's G Force chassis No. GF01-004 for the first laps with the new combination and completed 13 circuits of the one-mile oval before a mechanical problem delayed further testing until Thursday.
Tony Stewart had the fastest lap of the day and second fastest of IRL winter testing with a clocking of 21.439 seconds, 167.918 miles an hour. It was just short of Scott Goodyear's fastest lap of 168.145 set Dec. 22. Davy Jones was just behind Stewart at 167.715.
Chronology of the Nissan Infiniti Indy engine's first appearance on a race track today: 10:19 a.m. -- Engine fired for the first time on site under awning beside Jonathan Byrd/Cunningham Racing's transporter in Walt Disney World Speedway paddock. 11:19 a.m. -- Car towed to pit road. 11:27 a.m. -- Mike Groff climbs into cockpit. 11:32 a.m. -- Engine fired by crewman Richie Simon 11:34 a.m. -- Groff pulls out for systems check lap, returns to pits. 11:44 a.m. -- Groff pulls out behind camera truck driven by track superintendent Brian Barnhart and runs first complete lap.
*** QUOTES: MIKE GROFF: "This is what we're here for. We got a little later start than the other guys but they've gone through it, too. The bell housing on the gearbox is a porous casting and it was leaking a little bit of oil, so we're going to put the 'latest and greatest' in. It wasn't the engine. I didn't really get up to speed but for just getting started, it has a good feel. I'm kind of encouraged about running tomorrow. The biggest thing is, we're here paying our dues. Hopefully, what we learn will help some of the other guys who haven't been running. We're learning as we go."
MARTY FIOLKA (Nissan Motorsports): "Today has been a milestone day in terms of the entire project. Psychologically, for all the guys who worked so hard on this, it's an important day. We did laps and it's a small but important step in the Infiniti Indy process. It's been a good day."
TREVOR HARRIS (Jonathan Byrd/Cunningham engineer and a member of Nissan's design team, as the car pulled off pit road for the first time): "At the beginning of any project, a high level of excitement can be found with a low level of execution."
TONY STEWART: "Everything we've done today, we keep getting faster and faster. Practice doesn't pay anything. What counts is Race Day." (about the pole): "I think it's going to be hard to get a 21 (seconds)-flat now. I would be surprised to see a 20.20 (seconds). I know how hard we're working to get little chunks. You're not going to gain 2/10ths (of a second) in a run now."
LARRY CURRY (director of racing, Team Menard): "Our goal was to get 250 miles on an engine without doing anything to it. We ran 190 or so yesterday and ran out of time. We came out this morning and finished it. All the vitals look excellent. The reason we want 250 miles is if you want to put a fresh engine in after qualifying, do the warmup and run the race, you need 250 miles." *** Buzz Calkins, Tony Stewart, Larry Curry, Nissan Motorsports' Marty Fiolka and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Media Coordinator Owen Kearns are scheduled to be the first guests on the kickoff airing of "The Race Rock Power Lunch", sponsored by Interstate Batteries from Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday on WQTM, 540 AM. The new show, live from Race Rock, is hosted by Dave Lecklitner. Fans may ask questions of the guests by calling 1-800-729-8255 during the show.
*** FASTEST DRIVER TEAM CAR LAPS TIME/SPEED Tony Stewart Menard G Force/Aurora 89 21.439 167.918 Davy Jones Galles G Force/Aurora 139 21.465 167.715 Arie Luyendyk Treadway G Force/Aurora 140 21.763 165.418 Buzz Calkins Bradley G Force/Aurora 90 21.868 164.624 Eddie Cheever Cheever G Force/Aurora 57 22.828 157.701 Mike Groff Byrd/Cunningham G Force/Infiniti 13 warmup
For ticket information for the Jan. 19 Chevy Trucks Challenge and the Jan. 25 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Presented by Aurora, call 1-800-822-INDY. Tickets are also on sale at Race Rock, 8986 International Drive, Orlando (I-4 to Sand Lake exit).