SHARP STRIKES AGAIN, OPENS PHOENIX TEST WITH UNOFFICIAL RECORD PHOENIX, Feb. 25, 1998 - Scott Sharp set an unofficial track record for the new Indy Racing League cars of 20.747 seconds, 173.519 mph Wednesday during the opening day of...
SHARP STRIKES AGAIN, OPENS PHOENIX TEST WITH UNOFFICIAL RECORD
PHOENIX, Feb. 25, 1998 - Scott Sharp set an unofficial track record for the new Indy Racing League cars of 20.747 seconds, 173.519 mph Wednesday during the opening day of the "Test in the West" at Phoenix International Raceway.
Sharp's fast lap around the 1-mile oval - in the team's second Delphi Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear -- was faster than the record of 170.012 mph set by Tony Stewart during qualifying for the Phoenix 200 in March 1997.
Setting unofficial track records during testing is becoming a habit for Sharp. He set an unofficial mark during in mid-January at Walt Disney World Speedway near Orlando while testing before the season-opening Indy 200. Sharp finished sixth in that race.
"Right out of the box the car was a dream to drive," Sharp said. "It is a backup car, but it won't necessarily always be a backup car. We finally got a chance to get this car out and really run it. If we ever need to run it, it's all ready to go.
"I think both of our cars are really good. We're at the point of trying to learn. All of the rest of the running we've done so far really has been out of a standard setup. (Chief engineer) David Cripps has come up with a few adjustments, and we're excited about the next two days. We feel like we've gotten through the first window of getting the car broken in and a baseline setup, and now we can try different things. Some of them won't work, but at least we'll learn."
Billy Boat was second-fastest Wednesday at 20.962, 171.739 in the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. Defending IRL champion Tony Stewart, who won the 1998 season opener, was third at 21.023, 171.241 in the Team Menard G Force/Aurora/Firestone.
Defending Phoenix 200 winner Jim Guthrie was 20th-fastest in the ISM Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear at 22.065, 163.154. IRL testing will continue Thursday with more open testing and 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 20.747 173.519 Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 20.962 171.739 Tony Stewart Team Menard G Force/Aurora/Firestone 21.023 171.241 Eddie Cheever Jr. Team Cheever Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.031 171.176 Raul Boesel McCormack Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear 21.492 167.504 Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear 21.500 167.442 Kenny Brack A.J. Foyt Enterprises G Force*/Aurora/Goodyear 21.606 166.620 Davey Hamilton Nienhouse Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear 21.620 166.512 Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear 21.636 166.389 Sam Schmidt LP Racing Dallara/Aurora/Firestone 21.687 165.998 * -- T (backup) car
"TEST IN THE WEST" NOTEBOOK
Tyler tests Infiniti for Treadway: Treadway Racing has two new looks during this test, as rookie Brian Tyler is driving the team's Nissan-powered backup car.
Tyler is testing the new Phase 2.1 Infiniti engine. Treadway's primary driver, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk, is testing with an Oldsmobile Aurora engine.
Tyler, two-time defending USAC sprint car champion, will drive for Treadway only during this test. He finished 19th in his IRL debut last month in the Indy 200 for Chitwood Motorsports.
Minor scrape: Brian Tyler and Jimmy Kite were unhurt after an accident in Turn 2 at 3:20 p.m. Wednesday. Tyler's car moved high in Turn 2 and slid sideways. Kite, trailing, collided with Tyler's car.
Tyler and Kite were examined in the Infield Care Center and released to drive by IRL Medical Director Dr. Hank Bock. Tyler's car and Kite's car both sustained minor damage.
BRIAN TYLER (#5T Sprint PCS G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "We just put a new set of tires on, and I didn't get warmed up enough. The back just came around on me."
JIMMY KITE (#7 Royal Purple Motor Oil Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "He just spun coming off Turn 2. I was on the brakes and tried to stop. I almost missed him. It's barely damaged, and we'll definitely be back out tomorrow."
Good deed: IRL driver Billy Boat, his wife, Andrea, and their four children are working with the Central Arizona Chapter of the American Red Cross on a safety awareness campaign.
The campaign includes an advertisement in the Phoenix 200 race program and a public service announcement on family safety. The PSA will be televised on Phoenix-area stations before the Phoenix 200 race weekend. Boat, from Phoenix, drives the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by A.J. Foyt.
Another good deed: IRL driver Stan Wattles played host Tuesday to students from St. Paul's Preparatory Academy for a presentation at PIR. The presentation was part of Wattles' "Racing to Make a Difference" program to help children with learning disabilities. "Our visit with the St. Paul's kids and staff was terrific," said Wattles, driver of the Metro Racing Systems Riley & Scott/Aurora/Goodyear. "They were great kids, and I'd have them back again in an instant. It was wonderful, they were polite, and their questions were excellent. I look forward to seeing them again soon."
Come on down: The public is welcome to attend "The Test in the West" on Thursday, with free admission. An autograph session is scheduled for 12:15-1 p.m., and team merchandise and pace-car rides around PIR will be raffled to fans.
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.
Phoenix 200 tickets: Tickets for the Phoenix 200 are available by calling Phoenix International Raceway at (602) 252-2227.