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The Callahan Report from Indianapolis, May 22

22 May 1997

Galles/Monsoon Racing Wins Pit Competition

INDIANAPOLIS: Galles Racing received a big check today. The team took in $40,000 for the top prize in the Coors Indy Pit Stop Challenge. The winning time was 14.3 seconds. The Galles Team also won the even last year. They are good at it... they have won five times in the last nine. In the final round, Kenny Brack, driving the number 4 Monsoon car beat out Eddie Cheever in the number 51 First Plus Financial car. Cheever's team serviced his car in 15.1 seconds.

Kenny Brack Kenny Brack

Stewart Fast On Carb Day

INDIANAPOLIS: A couple of days ago, a tumbleweed would have looked right at home in the deserted Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Today, there was barely room for a cooler in the tower terrace suites. It is beginning to look a lot like race day.

Thirty-two of the thirty-five cars qualified made track appearances during the final practice session for the world's richest auto race, the Indianapolis 500. The Blueprint Racing team comprised of Phoenix winner Jim Guthrie, Sam Schmidt, and Claude Bourbonnais did not get on the track. That team is having all of their engines rebuilt and they are ready for the race. They did extensive race testing during the final week of practice (last week).

Tony Stewart, driving the Menards/Glidden/G Force/Aurora was the fastest of the day with a speed of over 215 mph.

Tony Stewart Tony Stewart

Fans are now jamming the area behind the pit stop competition. Smoke will fill the air as the crews get ready to cash in on that big and exciting event.

Comment: The Fastest Thirty-Three?

INDIANAPOLIS: Leo Mehl, the executive director of the IRL, stated Sunday that the IRL will start the fastest thirty-three cars for this year's Indy 500. They aren't.

The controversy was all started due to the 25/8 rule created by the IRL to enhance participation in the league. The rule reserved 25 spots in the Indy 500 for series regulars, leaving eight spots for "at large" participants. The IRL decided to start thirty-five cars in order to keep the tradition of starting the thirty-three fastest cars. At the same time, this allowed them to keep their promise to the IRL regulars.

I agree that the 25/8 rule was necessary. The decision Sunday to run thirty-five cars did not go far enough. There was a bright yellow and red car sponsored by Mi-Jack that is not in this years race. Alessandro Zampedri qualified the car faster than several that are currently in the field. The car number is 34. It was "bumped" from the field last Sunday.

Yes, Zampedri re-qualified a backup car for the team. That car number is 34T. He is in the race and is happy to be there.

Zampedri Alessandro Zampedri

So, what happened to the statement that the fastest thirty-three cars will start the 500. In fact, only 35 of the fastest 36 cars will start the great race. In a perfect world, the Mi-Jack team should be allowed to hire a replacement driver for the number 34 car, bringing the total number of starters to 36 instead of the announced 35.

My pick for the replacement driver is obvious. Scott Harrington.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel