The Callahan Report: Green Fastest In Round Two Qualifying
2 August 1997INDIANAPOLIS: Rookie Jeff Green has cartoon characters all over his race car. His driving today was anything but kid stuff. Green put the Cartoon Network car solidly into the 1997 Brickyard 400 field. His speed of 176.153 mph will earn him the twenty-sixth starting spot. The top twenty-five spots were awarded and locked during yesterday's qualifying round.
"We tightened the car up a little bit because we were loose yesterday," Green said. "We probably tightened it up a little bit too much because the car pushed a bit and that cut a little speed. But I feel like we've got a great race car. There's a lot of hype here and the best way for me not to be nervous about this is to just not think about it. So I made like I was practicing out there. We had to make the race on speed. We had not other way of doing it."
A total of eight drivers stood on their times from Thursday. Two of those were bumped from the field. Rusty Wallace and Jimmy Spencer had to use provisional starting spots to return to NASCAR's richest race. Eighteen drivers made qualifying attempts today.
Lake Speed was second fast in the Melling Ford with a speed of 175.210 mph. Part time Winston cup driver Jeff Purvis will start in the 28th spot. Kenny Wallace and Ed Berrier complete the top thirty.
The rear of the field if field with NASCAR stars. Mark Martin, former Daytona Winner Derrike Cope, two time 1997 winner Jeff Burton, Pepsi 400 winner John Andretti, and defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte, will all start beyond the 30th spot.
Even more NASCAR favorites were sent home, missing out on the big bucks payout synonymous with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Those not getting big paychecks are Dick Trickle, Bobby Hillin, Hut Stricklin, Dave Marcis, Morgan Shepherd, Tim Steele, Geoff Bodine and Mike Wallace.
Ernie Irvan, in his last Brickyard ride for Robert Yates, will lead the field to the green flag for tomorrow's race. Yates announced today that Kenny Irwin will be driving the familiar number 28 car next season. Irwin, who has never turned a wheel in a Winston cup car, was the USAC midget champion last year. He is running in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series this season. Irwin will also debut tonight in the Kentucky Fried Chicken sponsored car in the Kroger 200 Busch Grand National race.
The 1997 Brickyard 400 will air live on ABC television at noon local time (1:00 P.M. EST). Some 325,000 fans are expected to be on hand, with millions more watching the live telecast.