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Qualifying Postponed for Indy 200 at WDW

23 January 1998

Lake Buena Vista, FL-January 23, 1998 14:30pm

Qualifying for the IRL WDW 200 was postponed due to three inches of rain which inundated the Orlando, Florida area this morning. The qualifying session scheduled for a 2:00pm start was suspended. The top 20 positions of the 28 place starting grid for tomorrow's race have been set using last year's points of the owner/entrant. The remaining eight positions were determined using Thursday's practice times.

Thirty-One cars registered for the 28 starting spots. Affonso Giaffone, Jim Guthrie, and Michael Roe are the three drivers who will not participate in tomorrow's race. Guthrie won last year's Phoenix race and carried a lot of points at the end of the season, but his team is under new ownership and could not carry any of those points over to this season.

IRL Executive Director Leo Mehl and Director of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart held a news conference to discuss tomorrow's race. Mehl offered "that no system is perfect, but that this was as close as they could come to a fair system." The question of starting more than 28 cars was raised. Barnhart replied that "concerns for safety of the drivers is priority." The WDW course is designed with 36 feet allowance for each pit area. Using that measurement means that 28 pit spaces are available.

The starting grid will be led by defending IRL champion Tony Stewart in the Johns Manville Team Menard car. Starting beside Stewart will be Kenny Brack, while third place starting spot will be occupied by Billy Boat in the AJ Foyt Racing #11 car.

A practice session is scheduled for this afternoon. The inclement weather is reported to be leaving the area, and support crews are trying to dry the track.

For those that follow the IRL, you will recall that last year's race was shortened by 49 laps when inclement weather forced the race to be called. Perhaps this year's race has put the inclement weather behind.

David Treffer -- The Auto Channel