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The Callahan Report from Indianapolis, May 9

10 May 1997

Arie Luyendyk Fastest, Again...
Friday, May 9, 1997

INDIANAPOLIS: Arie Luyendyk seems like a lock to win the pole for the 81st Indianapolis 500. The real question in the garage area is who else will be on the front row. Arie was quickest today with a speed of 218.325 mph. Some good candidates for the other two spots are Tony Stewart in the Team Menard/Glidden/G Force/ Aurora and his team mate Robbie Buhl in the Quaker State/G Force/Aurora. The Menards have been chasing Luyendyk all month. They were second and third fastest again today. The Menard team even switched from Goodyear tires to Firestone tires yesterday in an attempt to catch the Miller Lite/Wavephore/G Force of Luyendyk.

Scott Goodyear should be fast as well. He drives for the Treadway Racing stable, as does Luyendyk. Goodyear was not in the top ten today. The team has been trading setup information. Goodyear has always been fast at the speedway so look for him to pull some good laps tomorrow.

Scott Goodyear Arie Luyendyk Scott Goodyear (left) and Arie Luyendyk (right)font size>

Scott Sharp's team mate, Davey Hamilton, pulled the forth fastest speed of the day in the familiar number 14 car owned by A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

The track officially closed at 5:17 PM due to the fluids laid down by Scott Sharp's accident.

John Paul Jr. sufferd multiple fractures of the right leg and a broken left heel as a result of his early accident today. Indy can be a cruel place when you are searching for speed.

Scott Sharp Crashes Hard

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: Scott Sharp had a very hard impact with the wall in turn four at the speedway at 5:15 PM this afternoon. The car broke loose before the apex in turn four, did almost a complete spin before going nearly head on into the wall. The car hugged the wall beyond the start/finish line. Sharp came to a stop near his pit (pit number 1). His own crew jumped the wall to his aid. Safety crews worked for a long time to remove Sharp from the car.

Sharp was taken to methodist hospital via ambulance. He is awake, showing signs of a concussion.

This is the second major crash this week for the Conseco sponsored car. Earlier this week, Sharp had the engine seize up sending him into the turn 4 wall. Sharp was using his backup car this afternoon when he crashed (car number 1T).

Indy Veteran Eddie Cheever
Finally Gets Track Time

INDIANAPOLIS (2:00 PM): There is nothing like waiting till the last minute. The winner of the Walt Disney World 200, Eddie Cheever finally got some track time this morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Cheever, of Phoenix AZ, is unique in that he owns his IRL team. He spent much of the earlier part of the week working with his rookie driver Jeff Ward. Now that his rookie has completed his required testing, Cheever can concentrate on his own effort to make the 81st running of the Indianapolis 500.

Eddie Cheever Eddie Cheeverfont size>

At the lunch break, which is taken daily at 2:00 PM, the top speed for the day belonged to Tony Stewart in the Team Menard/Glidden/G Force/Aurora. It appears that the switch back to Firestone tires agrees with the team. Stewart's fast time was 217.292 mph .

Robby Gordon had a wild ride this afternoon. Gordon brought out the yellow light at 1:38 PM when he lost control of his Coors Light machine but did not make contact with the wall. He returned to the pits for some new Goodyear tires and took to the track again as soon as the light went green.

It is a very cold day at the speedway which may have contributed to Gordon's spin. The track temperature is only 62 degrees. The wind chill is 28 degrees. This can create severe problems with the tires used here at the speedway as was learned in the 1992 Indianapolis 500. That race was marred with crashes and was the coldest 500 in history. Today's conditions are very similar to that notorious day.

There has been a total of 27 cars on the track today, turning 663 laps. The top five are Tony Stewart, his stable mate Robbie Buhl at 216.081, Fermin Velez at 215.760, Robby Gordon at 215.326 and Robbie Buhl again (in his backup car) at 214.352.

John Paul Jr. Crashes

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: At 12:40 PM today, John Paul Jr. spun coming through turn 4. The car did a spin and slammed the outside wall with the front of the car. This was by far the worst accident at the speedway this month. Paul did not scrub off much speed as the car quickly snapped loose and ended up going head on into the wall after the spin, then continuing around destroying the left side of the car.

The official word from the speedway is that John Paul Jr. was transferred to Methodist Hospital by ambulance, he is awake and alert, complaining of right and left leg pains.

Early Morning Rookie Practice

INDIANAPOLIS: The track opened to the rookie drivers this morning at 9:00 AM under overcast skies and very cold and breezy conditions.

Those participating in the early morning session were: Sam Schmidt, in the Blueprint Racing/Dallara/Aurora, Steve Kinser in the Sinden Racing/Dallara/Aurora, Dr. Jack Miller in the AMS/Crest Racing car, and Billy Roe in the Sega/Progressive Electronics/Dallara/Aurora.

The track was schedule to close at 11:00, but that time was extended so that Steve Kinser and Jack Miller could complete the final phases of their rookie tests. Steve Kinser, the master of the World of Outlaw circuit, and Jack Miller, the racing dentist, both completed the tests. They will later be observed by veteran drivers.

The track will re-open at 11:30 to all drivers.

Indy Race Number One Is Tomorrow

INDIANAPOLIS: To an IRL driver, winning the pole at Indy is second only to the birth of his children and winning the race itself. In racing, to be the king of speed at Indy is equivalent to winning the Oscar for best actor in Hollywood. It does take a team effort to get that award, but the drivers of these speed machines at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway always seem to dig a little deeper come pole day. The excitement of the challenge...feeding off the electricity of the crowd. It is not uncommon for a driver to suddenly find a couple "mph" during his run for the pole, given decent weather conditions.

So what motivates a racing driver to shoot for the top qualifying spot at Indy? Is it money? Sure the money helps, but it is simply the competitive nature of the heros of speed to be the best. That is their greatest motivation.

As for the money, PPG Industries will shell out $100,000 to this years pole winner. They will also provide an additional $15,000 as long as the pole winner is proudly displaying the PPG logo. Chevrolet will also put the speed master into a very nice set of wheels for action off the track. The popular division of GM will give the winner a customized van worth over $40,000. GTE has provided some phone money so the pole winner can call home. They will donate $10,000 to each of the three front row starters. Pennzoil will give the pole winner $25,000 so long as the car displays that bright yellow logo for their product. These prizes go a long way in funding the winning teams organization.

Scott Brayton Scott Braytonfont size>

This year's pole award from PPG Industries will be presented in memory of the late Scott Brayton. The bright star of Indy last year, Brayton was killed in an accident at the speedway during the second week of practice. He had won the pole the previous weekend in dramatic fashion.

The run for the pole begins at 11:00 AM on Saturday.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel


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