IMS Brickyard 400 Preview: Jarrett Sets Unofficial Stock Car Mark
31 July 1997
JARRETT SETS UNOFFICIAL STOCK CAR MARK AT SPEEDWAY For Immediate Release INDIANAPOLIS, July 30, 1997 _ Dale Jarrett, the defending Brickyard 400 winner, lapped the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 178.980 miles an hour Wednesday on the first day of Brickyard 400 practice, the fastest unofficial stock-car lap ever turned at the historic 2 1/2-mile oval. Jarrett's lap came just 12 minutes from the scheduled end of practice as 51 cars went out to prepare for Thursday's Busch Pole qualifying. "The biggest difference is the repaving in the corners," Jarrett said. "That translates to people getting through the corners better. Our fast lap came very late in the day. We really didn't plan on even trying to take a qualifying-like lap. Ernie Irvan was second fastest at 177.943, followed by Wally Dallenbach Jr., at 177.144, Ted Musgrave at 176.908, Lake Speed at 176.706, Steve Grissom at 176.478 and Robby Gordon at 176.460. Those seven drivers were faster than the track record of 176.419 miles an hour set last Aug. 1 by pole winner Jeff Gordon. "I don't foresee running that fast tomorrow," Jarrett added. "I think someone will definitely break the record tomorrow, but I don't think it'll be me. I think I'm 20th in the qualifying order. I just don't think I can do it in the heat of the day. Irvan talked about track position for Race Day. "Track position is really important here," he said. "If you qualify up front, you can dictate your day. There aren't a lot of cautions here. This is a race that has long greens, so track position is critical." Dallenbach Jr., has a history at the Speedway. His father raced in 13 Indianapolis 500s. "I've spent many months of May here," he recalled. "I always thought I'd be racing here at the Indianapolis 500. I just never dreamed as a kid that it'd be in a stock car. Maybe we can finally get the Dallenbach names on a trophy here." Both Mike Skinner and Lake Speed hit the wall during the day, but both were uninjured and are expected to be ready for qualifying Thursday. The top 25 positions will be decided Thursday. Positions 26 through 38 will be set in qualifying Friday, plus as many as four regular provisionals and a champions provisional which could take the field to 43 starters. ..97BY-11..