The Callahan Report from Indianapolis, May 13

13 May 1997

Final Wrap Up

INDIANAPOLIS: Action is picking up at the Speedway. There was a total of 17 cars on the track, turning over 750 laps. The fastest was Buddy Lazier late in the day with a speed of 217.040. Arie Luyendyk took the day off. Second quick was Eddie Cheever at 216.909 mph. Third fastest was Scott Goodyear with a lap of 216.513 mph.

Four drivers in cars that are not yet qualified were on the track. Billy Boat was the fastest of those at 214.133 mph. Marco Greco was over 210 and Billy Roe was at 209 mph. Dennis Vitolo did not get up to speed before blowing a motor.

Practice resumes tomorrow at 11:00 AM.

SJM Is Closer To Getting On Track

INDIANAPOLIS: Stefan Johansson Motorsports (SJM) announced today that they will run with Infiniti power and Firestone tires at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Vern Schuppan, Managing Director of the Team stated, "We are delighted to be associated with the Nissan Infiniti Group and we have Ron Hemelgarn and Lee Kunzman to thank for making it happen since they were instrumental in providing a Nissan Infiniti engine to us. After hearing of our dilemma, they offered their assistance and the next day we had an engine in our car. This is indicative of the racing spirit of the IRL where you will see racers helping fellow competitors in their efforts to get in the show."

Schuppan continued "This is just the beginning for our IRL Team and the beginning of what we anticipate will be a long-term association with Nissan and their Infiniti program. In addition, we are very happy to have support from Firestone and we believe that the G-Force/Infiniti/Firestone combination will be a very effective and competitive package."

SJM has started their run at the Indy 500 behind schedule. They plan to build the team into a competitive and winning combination. The team has already had success with their Indy Lights program. They finished on the podium in two of the first three races. Long term, SJM states they are in the IRL to win races and championships.

Stefan Johansson Motorsports is Indianapolis based. They said they are pleased to be starting the IRL series "in their own back yard".

Tyce Carlson To Drive For PDM Racing

INDIANAPOLIS: United States Auto Club (USAC) midget, sprint, and silver crown series star, Tyce Carlson, has been named to drive in place of the injured John Paul Jr. The announcement was made today by PDM Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Paul, who broke his right leg and left heel in a serious accident last Friday at the Speedway, was on hand for the announcement. He said "I'm here for Tyce. I think you are looking at the winner of the race this year. Based on the performance of the car... I believe we have the car to win the race with." He continued "The performance of the engine has been stellar...we haven't had an engine failure yet. I will be happy to do everything in my power to help Tyce win the race."

Carlson stated, "I never wanted to get in the seat under the circumstances that happened. I'm going to do my best to win this race, not for myself, but for the guys that have worked so hard."

PDM Racing waited several days in making the announcement. The team talked about the delay. "It was just a question of making sure it was proper with all of the sponsors that Tyce was the natural choice." The team has been working day and night getting the new car ready to go for Carlson.

PDM Crew PDM crew continues to work on the carfont size=-1>

Carlson will attempt to qualify for the Indy 500 this weekend.

Johnny O'Connell To Replace Injured Scott Sharp

INDIANAPOLIS: After a plan to get NASCAR star John Andretti into this year's Indy 500 fell through, A.J. Foyt announced today that Johnny O'Connell will replace the injured Scott Sharp in the Number One Conseco/G Force/Aurora. O'Connell drove in the 500 last year. He moved from twenty-ninth to eighth place in just 47 laps before fuel pick up problems sent him back down the running order.

Foyt said "It was just too hard for Cale Yarborough, John Andretti, and me to make the deal...if it rained or something, it would be too difficult. Johnny O'Connell is a fine driver."

Scott Sharp was present at the conference and said "Indy is the race that we all want to be in...especially since Indianapolis is home base for my sponsor, Conseco. It's hard... It's very hard".

O'Connell will be teamed with Billy Boat and Davey Hamilton. O'Connell and Boat will attempt to qualify this weekend. Hamilton has already qualified for this year's race.

In other news: There are several cars practicing "race day setups" at the Speedway this morning. Tony Stewart is the fastest at 214.439 mph. Billy Roe is the only unqualified car currently practicing (12:58 PM).

Billy Boat: No Bumping Allowed

Billy Boat qualified for last year's Indy 500. He qualified Roberto Guerrero's backup car on the third day of time trials in 1996. His speed of 221 mph was in danger of being bumped. The legendary A.J. Foyt must have seen something he liked in the 31 year old driver from Phoenix, AZ. Foyt placed the successful midget racer in one of his cars with hopes that he could re- qualify if he was bumped. It was not a good day for Boat. He crashed the Foyt entry while practicing. He was bumped just eighteen minutes later by Joe Gosek. All Boat could do was listen from the Methodist Hospital Emergency Room.

Billy Boat

This year looks to be different for Billy Boat. He has been practicing in the number 11 Conseco car for Foyt this week. His performance has been exceptional. Boat has put in 40 laps with a top speed over 212 mph. That speed is more than sufficient to make this years field. He will attempt to qualify this week end.

This is an instance where the Indy Racing League has opened the door to a brilliant short track racer. In 1995, Billy Boat broke all USAC records for consecutive single series feature wins with eleven straight Western States victories. Ironically, the man who broke that win streak is his current stable mate, Davey Hamilton. Boat won the series championship that year with a total of eighteen wins in twenty-seven starts. Boat started his USAC career in 1989.

The Foyt team had planned to run three cars at Indy this year. Billy Boat was added to the team this past week, before Scott Sharp crashed hard last Friday. It was announced yesterday the Sharp will not be driving in this years Indy 500. The three car team may still be a reality. Foyt is working with Cale Yarborough in an effort to place John Andretti in Sharp's ride. John Andretti drives for Yarborough in NASCAR.

Early Morning Report

The track is a little wet. Overnight rains in the area have delayed the opening of practice for the running of the 81st Indy 500. The track is drying and it looks promising for practice later today.

Arie Luyendyk, the pole winner, was fastest again yesterday with a speed over 217 mph.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel

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