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1996 Indianapolis 500
Daily Trackside Report


DAY 16 -Qualifications- SUNDAY, MAY 19

The $60,000 Coors Pit Stop Challenge is scheduled for Thursday immediately following the Carburetion Day final practice. The first five starting positions who wish to compete will be automatic qualifiers for the contest. The contest quarter final will pit the fourth and fifth qualifiers who accept. The contest semifinals will pit the quarter final winner against the top accepting qualifier and the second and third accepting qualifiers against each other. The semifinal winners will vie for the championship. First place pays $35,000, with $10,000 for second, $7,500 for third, $5,000 for fourth and $2,500 for fifth. The contest is scheduled for telecast on ESPN. The field will be known at 6 p.m. Monday.

The Hemelgarn Racing team and driver Brad Murphey receive $25,000 in Speedway qualifying prizes for being the fastest third-day qualifier. The team also receives 5,000 scratch-off tickets from The Hoosier Lottery for Murphey's run of 226.053 miles per hour. The Hoosier Lottery has also posted 5,000 scratch-off tickets for today's fastest qualifier. Johnny Parsons and Team Blueprint received $10,000 as the second fastest Saturday qualifier in Speedway qualifying prizes and Fermin Velez and Team Scandia received $5,000 as third fastest Saturday qualifier.

The track opened for practice at 10:09 a.m. At 10:10 a.m., the temperature was 80 degrees with SW winds at 21 miles per hour.

At 11 a.m. today, car owner John Menard and Team Menard director of racing Larry Curry announced that Danny Ongais had been assigned to the #2 Glidden Menards Special qualified by Scott Brayton.

LARRY CURRY: "Like John said, we spent a lot of time on this decision. It was an emotional day yesterday. Scott worked so hard to put the car in this race. When Danny ran on a full-time basis, Danny ran fast. Scott Brayton lived to go fast. I think it is fitting for Danny to be in Scott's car on race day and it's a great tribute to Scott. Danny has been doing races in other areas. He got it (the #77 Brickell Racing Group machine in which he completed his refresher test) over 200 pretty easy. Danny has a lot of experience being in high-speed cars." (About the pace laps on Race Day): "We have no idea how it will happen. John and I have discussed it and expressed our opinions."

JOHN MENARD: "We're happy that Danny Ongais will be filling in for Scott. We looked long and hard to find someone who would be appropriate to do this. Knowing Danny for many years, we're glad to be associated with him. We're wishing it was under other circumstances. We wanted to do what Scott wanted and that's to race the car at the greatest race track in the world. We talked to Al (Unser) and Al recommended we use Danny. I used Al as a consultant to help us make up our minds. Al has made it clear that he is retired. If he had decided to come out of retirement, I would've considered it.

DANNY ONGAIS: "These are rather large shoes to fill and I'll do my best for Team Menard. I'm not familiar with all the situation but it's a difficult time. I knew Scott for a few years. We knew each other well enough to say hello. The friendship was there." (About the track): "The track seems the same as the last time I was here. The speeds didn't seem that much different to me. They (the cars) did not seem to change at all."

USAC Chief Steward Keith Ward said after the press conference that USAC would determine race start procedures involving the car later this week.

Facts, Figures (compiled by historian Bob Watson):

  • When Johnny Parsons and Danny Ongais take the green flag for this year's race, they will become the 34th and 35th drivers to have started at least one Indianapolis 500 in three different decades. Parsons made his Indianapolis 500 debut in 1974 and Ongais made the starting field for the first time in 1977. The last time either driver competed in an Indianapolis 500 was 1986.
  • Danny Ongais drove Car No. 25 in his 10 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. This is the most consecutive times a driver has used the same car number starting with his rookie year. Ongais is scheduled to start Car No. 32.
  • Danny Ongais made history along with polesitter Tom Sneva and third-place starter Rick Mears when the trio comprised the first all-200 mile-an-hour starting front row in the annals of the Indianapolis 500 in 1978.
  • Tony Stewart will be the youngest driver to start from the pole position since Rex Mays started from the pole at age 23 in 1936. Mays also started from the pole in 1935 at age 22. Stewart turns 25 on May 20.

12:30 p.m. update: Dan Drinan is undergoing surgery to repair his left hip fracture at Methodist Hospital.

Arrangement information for Scott Brayton: Visitation will be 6-9 p.m. Tuesday at Gillespie Funeral Home, 27 Marshall St., Coldwater, Michigan 49036. Funeral services are at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the United Methodist Church, 26 Marshall St., Coldwater. The correct name of the fund established Saturday for Carly Brayton is the Carly Brayton Memorial Trust, according to Team Menard representative Andy Card. Contributions to the fund can be sent to Bank One, 14801 U.S. 31 North, Carmel, IN 46032.

Mike Bliss won Saturday night's Coca Cola 100 for USAC Silver Crown cars at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Trailing Kenny Irwin Jr. on the final lap, Bliss caught Irwin in traffic exiting Turn 4, the two locked wheels and slid across the finish line with Bliss ahead by inches, winning the race in the McClure Chevy. Irwin was second and Dave Blaney was third. The next race for the series is A.J. Foyt's 16th annual Hulman Hundred Friday night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Bliss leads the series' point standings with 400, followed by Irwin with 300 and David Steele with 200.

Hideshi Matsuda made his first appearance on the track of the month this morning and had posted a top practice lap of 227.147 at 1:35 p.m. By 1:45 p.m., he had completed only 23 laps in the #52 Beck Motorsports entry.

At 1:50 p.m., Randy Tolsma in the #24 McCormack Motorsports entry slid high in Turn 1 and did a complete spin over 825 feet to hit the outside wall, then slid along the wall 630 feet to a stop against the outside wall in the middle of Turn 2. The car sustained right-side damage. Tolsma was examined and released from Hanna Medical Center. "I'm disappointed," Tolsma said. "This team worked awfully hard. We've learned a lot as a team. It's been 20 years of hard work for me at this point and for all the people who stood behind us, we were doing our job today and we're very thankful. This was a great moment in my life and I'm proud of what we've accomplished. To have the car owner (Dennis McCormack) come to the hospital with a smile and a hug meant a lot to me. We're okay. We'll bounce back." Tolsma was asked if he would consider offers for other cars. "No," he replied. "We're a team. We'll take what we learned here to Loudon and come back here in 97."

Tyce Carlson went on the track in the #77 Brickell Racing Group entry shortly after 2 p.m.

At 2:22 p.m., the temperature was 86 degrees with winds out of SW at 16 miles per hour with gusts up to 23 mph.

At 4 p.m., the temperature was 96 degrees and track temperature was 125, according to Firestone tire engineers.

4:02 p.m. #52 HIDESHI MATSUDA/Kawasaki, Japan

               Beck Motorsports - 94 L/F/F
QA - 38    1 -- 39.692 -- 226.746   Q - 34
           2 -- 39.614 -- 227.192
           3 -- 39.693 -- 226.740
           4 -- 39.692 -- 226.746
            T 2:38.691 -- 226.856

The 32 car field average is 227.956

Including all practice laps on days he qualified, Hideshi Matsuda has logged a total of only 528 practice and driver orientation laps prior to qualifying each year for the 1994-96 Indianapolis 500s. He had 108 laps of USAC's Rookie Orientation Program in 1994, 189 laps of practice in 1994, 196 laps of practice in 1995 and 35 laps of practice in 1996.

At 5:24 p.m., Billy Boat in the #84 AJ Foyt Enterprises entry slid in Turn 1 over 490 feet with a half-spin to hit the wall in the south short chute, slid 40 feet along the wall, then came off the wall 660 feet sideways to a stop in the middle of the track at the entrance to Turn 2. The car sustained extensive left side damage. Boat was taken by ambulance to Methodist Hospital for evaluation and examination. He was awake and alert and complaining of back and leg pain.

5:37 p.m. #44 SCOTT HARRINGTON/Indianapolis, IN

               Della Penna Motorsports Ralph's Food 4 Less Fuji Film - 95 R/F/G
QA - 39    1 -- 40.445 -- 222.524    Q - 35
           2 -- 40.368 -- 222.949
           3 -- 40.519 -- 222.118
           4 -- 40.695 -- 221.157
            T 2:42.027 -- 222.185

The 33 car field average is 227.777

5:42 p.m. #43 JOE GOSEK/Oswego, NY

               Alta Spring Water/Perry Ellis/Royal Purple - 94 L/F/G
QA - 40    1 -- 40.227 -- 223.730    Q - 36
           2 -- 40.342 -- 223.093
           3 -- 40.482 -- 222.321
           4 -- 40.534 -- 222.036
            T 2:41.585 -- 222.793

#43 Joe Gosek bumps #99 Billy Boat. The 33 car field average is 227.807.

5:47 p.m. #77 TYCE CARLSON/Indianapolis, IN

               Brickell Racing Earl's Performance PDM - 93 L/M/G
QA - 41    1 -- 41.201 -- 218.441    UA - 1
           2 -- waved off  --

5:57 p.m. #77 TYCE CARLSON/Indianapolis, IN

               Brickell Racing Earl's Performance PDM - 93 L/M/G
(2nd attempt)
QA - 42    1 -- 40.668 -- 221.304    UA - 2
           2 -- 40.754 -- 220.837
           3 -- 40.663 -- 221.331
           4 -- 40.663 -- 221.331
            T 2:42.748 -- 221.201

A total of 49 cars are at the Speedway, 46 have passed technical inspection and none are in the process. 41 drivers were on the track. There were 18 yellows for 2 hours, 34 minutes. At 6:20 p.m., the temperature was 85 degrees with winds out of the west at 13 miles per hour, gusting to 25 miles per hour.

7 p.m. update: Billy Boat will be admitted overnight for observation at Methodist Hospital, according to Dr. Henry Bock, Speedway medical director. Boat was awake and alert and still being examined.

Ameritech "Youngest Starting Driver" Award
$7,500, Michel Jourdain Jr.

Marmon Group "Fastest Rookie Lap" Award
$5,000, Tony Stewart.

Mi-Jack "Top Performance" Award
$5,000, Arie Luyendyk.

NewsPager "Most Consistent Qualifying Laps" Award
$5,000, Tony Stewart (.023 of a second apart).

Nissan "Rookie Team Owner" Award
$2,500, Brad Calkins, Bradley Motorsports.

Pinkerton Security "Most Senior Starting Driver" Award
$5,000, Danny Ongais.

SRE Industries "My Bubble Burst" Award
$5,000, Billy Boat

Sure Start/Automotive Armature "On the Bubble" Award
$10,000, Scott Harrington.

T.P. Donovan "Top Starting Rookie" Award
$5,000, Tony Stewart.

  • Hideshi Matsuda and Beck Motorsports win $25,000 in Speedway qualifying prizes as the fastest qualifier of the day and also receive 5,000 scratch-off tickets from the Hoosier Lottery. Joe Gosek and Team Scandia receive $10,000 in Speedway qualifying prizes as second fastest qualifier of the day and Scott Harrington takes $5,000 as third fastest qualifier of the day.
  • Paul Durant was honored with the Citadel Group "Overachiever" Award of $5,000, awarded to the team which achieves the greatest qualifying success with limited resources.

It was announced at 6:55 p.m. that the field for the 80th running of the Indianapolis 500 would go with 33 starters.

Facts, Figures (compiled by historian Bob Watson):

  • The 1919 starting field contained a record 19 rookie starters. The 17 rookies in the 1996 field equals the second highest total for number of rookies in a starting field. The 1930 field contained 19 first-time starters, but two of those drivers, Zeke Meyer and Chet Gardner, had previous Indianapolis 500 experience as relief drivers and therefore, were not considered rookies in 1930.
  • Arie Luyendyk, this year's fastest qualifier, is the only former winner (1990) in the 1996 field. Other fields containing only one former winner were the fields of 1958, 1952, 1949, 1948, 1947, 1946, 1934 and 1928. Excluding the 1911 inaugural field, there were no former winners in the 1916, 1915, 1913 and 1912 fields. Arie Luyendyk holds the record for the fastest Indianapolis 500 in history when he won the 1990 race with an average speed of 185.981 miles per hour.
  • The overall average for the 33-car field is a record 227.807 miles per hour. The previous record was 226.912 mph by the 1995 33-car field.
  • Eliseo Salazar is starting the 1996 race on the outside of Row 1. Salazar was the slowest qualifier in the 1995 starting field. Salazar is the only driver to go from slowest qualifier to front row starter in back-to-back years. Lou Moore started 38th in the 40-car field of 1931 and from the pole in 1932, but was not 1931's slowest qualifier. No other driver has ever come from farther back to sit on the pole in back-to-back years.
  • The youngest driver in the 1996 field is Michel Jourdain Jr., at age 19 (born 9/2/76). The oldest driver in the field is Danny Ongais, who will be 54 years of age on Race Day (born 5/21/42). The 35-year difference in age between the two drivers represents the widest spread ever between the youngest and oldest driver of an Indianapolis 500 field.
  • The 1996 starting field contains five former lap leaders (Arie Luyendyk, Stephan Gregoire, Danny Ongais, Eddie Cheever and Roberto Guerrero ) of the Indianapolis 500. This is the fewest number in a starting field since 1952, when that year's field contained only three former lap leaders. The combined total of 157 previous laps led among the five former lap leaders in the field is the lowest total since 1928 when the four former lap leaders in that year's field had a combined total of 72 previous laps led.
  • The 16 Indianapolis 500 veterans in the 1996 field represent 75 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. This is the lowest total since 1931 when the 28 veterans in that year's 40-car field represented 71 previous starts.

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