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1996 Indianapolis 500
Daily Trackside Report

Notes

DAY 14 -Practice- FRIDAY, MAY 17

At 12:17 p.m., Scott Brayton in the #23 Menards/Glidden/Quaker State Special had an equipment failure in the middle of Turn 2, did a half-spin 420 feet to hit the wall with the left side, slid 360 feet along the wall, then came off the wall 600 feet to a stop on the inside of the track in the middle of the backstretch. The car sustained heavy left side damage. Brayton was transported by ambulance to Methodist Hospital of Indiana, accompanied by Dr. Henry Bock, Speedway medical director. Brayton, 37, of Coldwater, Mich., died at 12:50 p.m. local time at Methodist Hospital. The Speedway delayed the announcement of Brayton's death until 4 p.m. so family members could be notified. Brayton is survived by his wife, Becky; daughter Carly, 2 1/2; and his parents Lee and Jean.

At 4:45 p.m., Speedway president Tony George and Team Menard owner John Menard met with the media in the Trackside Conference Room.

TONY GEORGE: "We're very saddened by Scott's death. He's been a great ambassador to our sport.. His family has put their entire heart and soul into automobile racing. There's so much love in that family. They're so loved by the racing community. It is with a heavy heart that we sit before you today. Scott expressed to me earlier in the month on a couple different occasions how much he loved his two girls -- Becky and his daughter Carly. We're going to miss Scott. He died doing what he loved, going fast at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There's not much more that can be said than that."

JOHN MENARD: "Today, we lost a great friend, a great husband, a great father and a great competitor. Words just can't describe how I feel right now. Scotty just loved this place. He loved running fast here, loved the competition. He was so proud of the fact he had the pole. He worked for that pole. It was a real gutsy thing he did Saturday (withdrawing a second-row car and going for the pole). He died doing what he loved. There are very, very heavy hearts at Team Menard right now. Scotty had a perfect race car, a perfect day and a perfect track and it reached out and bit him. It reminds you that this is a very serious business that we're about."

Regarding Brayton's accident, Firestone spokesman Tony Troiano said in a written statement at 4:45 p.m.: "Our preliminary analysis tends to indicate the right rear tire on Scott's car did lose air but the manner in which it occurred leads us to believe the tire was cut. We are continuing to analyze what we have left of the tire and that analysis does not indicate any internal structural damage. Our prayers are with Scott's family at this time."

The United States Auto Club issued a statement at 6 p.m. as follows: Extensive investigation by the United States Auto Club Technical and Non-Destructive Committees following the Scott Brayton accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today revealed conclusive evidence to support the report that rapid deflation of the right rear tire occurred, causing Scott's Team Menard machine to spin into the outside wall in Turn 2. "Working closely with Firestone engineers, USAC will continue to pursue a possible cause for this rapid deflation," added USAC Technical Director Mike Devin.

Andy Michner passed the fourth and observation phases of his driver's test, becoming the 20th driver of the month to do so. Veteran observers were Tero Palmroth, Eliseo Salazar and Marco Greco. Joe Gosek passed the third, fourth and final phases of the test, becoming the 21st driver to do so. Rob Wilson passed the second through final phases of the test, becoming the 22nd driver to do so. Veteran observers for the last two final tests were Johnny Rutherford, Tero Palmroth and Stephan Gregoire.

Andy Michner, after passing his driver's test, said he would not attempt qualification this year. "I was offered Foyt's ride but I don't feel I have enough time to practice after qualifying to prepare for the race itself," Michner said.

John Della Penna announced Thursday that Della Penna Motorsports would not run its #44 Della Penna Motorsports Ralph's Food 4 Less Fuji Film entry, a backup car to Richie Hearn.

Qualifying order for Saturday, May 18: #99 TBA; #10 Murphey; #23 TBA; #84 TBA; #15 Bell; #25 Gosek; #36 Drinan; #75 O'Connell; #39 Harrington; #43 TBA.

18 cars were on the track today, running 643 laps. Cars on track today: #4 Hearn; #10 Murphey; #11 Sharp; #14 Hamilton; #15 Gosek; #23 Brayton; #24 Tolsma; #34 Salazar; #35 Luyendyk; #36 Drinan and Michner; #41 Greco; #43 Velez; #45 St. James; #46 Wilson; #64 Unser; #75 O'Connell; #77 Ongais; #99 Boat.

At 10:10 a.m., the temperature was 69 degrees and winds were out of the south at 9 mph. At 5:55 p.m., the temperature was 84 degrees and winds were west at 9 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

             TOP 10 NOT-YET QUALIFIED DRIVERS OF THE DAY
1  10  Brad Murphey     Hemelgarn Racing                        228.548
2  99  Billy Boat       Pagan Racing                            223.425
3  46  Rob Wilson       Power Team/Project Indy                 218.755
4  43  Fermin Velez     AltaSpringWater/PerryEllis/Royal Purple 217.802
5  36  Dan Drinan       State Bail Bonding/Kelly's Pub Too      214.997
6  75  Johnny O'Connell Mechanics Laundry/Cunningham Racing     214.117
7  77  Danny Ongais     Brickell Racing Group                   208.459
8  15  Joe Gosek        Tempero-Giuffre Racing                  206.219
9  36  Andy Michner     State Bail Bonding/Kelly's Pub Too      206.157
10 24  Randy Tolsma     McCormack Motorsports                   201.113

Official USAC Statement - Scott Brayton Accident

Extensive investigation by the United States Auto Club Technical and Non-Destructive Testing Committees following the Scott Brayton accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today revealed conclusive evidence to support the report that rapid deflation of the right rear tire occurred, causing Scott's Team Menard machine to spin into the outside wall in turn two.

"Working closely with Firestone engineers, USAC will continue to pursue a possible cause for this rapid deflation," added USAC Technical Director Mike Devin.

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