Indy Racing League

The 1997
Indy 500

Qualifying Reports and News




Qualifying News and Information is Shown with the Newest Reports at the Top, Culminating with the Final Qualifying Positions.


At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana, USA

- round five of the 1996/97 Indy Racing League


Starting Line-up
You may need to change your display font size to show the qualifying positions properly.
Driver			Car			Time		Speed
Row 1
1.Arie Luyendyk		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.44.939	213.263
2.Tony Stewart		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.45.122	218.021
3.Vincenzo Sospiri	Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.46.035	216.822
Row 2
4.Robbie Buhl		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.46.588	216.102
5.Scott Goodyear	G Force/Oldsmobile	2.46.813	215.811
6.Jim Guthrie		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.47.281	215.207
Row 3
7.Jeff Ward		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.47.819	214.517
8.Davey Hamilton	G Force/Oldsmobile	2.47.845	214.484
9.Eliseo Salazar	Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.47.973	214.320
Row 4
10.Buddy Lazier		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.48.000	214.286
11.Eddie Cheever Jnr	G Force/Oldsmobile	2.48.167	214.073
12.Robby Gordon		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.48.847	213.211
Row 5
13.Stephan Gregoire	G Force/Oldsmobile	2.48.914	213.126
14.Affonso Giaffone	Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.49.035	212.974
15.Kenny Brack		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.50.438	211.221
Row 6
16.Buzz Calkins		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.51.785	209.564
17.Dr. Jack Miller	Dallara/Nissan		2.52.043	209.250
18.Mike Groff		G Force/Nissan		2.52.631	208.537
Row 7
19.Roberto Guerrero	Dallara/Nissan		2.53.602	207.371
20.Steve Kinser		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.50.784	210.793
21.Robbie Groff		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.53.250	207.792
Row 8
22.Billy Boat		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.47.019	215.544
23.Sam Schmidt		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.47.332	215.141
24.Billy Roe		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.49.211	212.752
Row 9
25.Mark Dismore		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.49.473	212.423
26.Tyce Carlson		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.50.736	210.852
27.Marco Greco		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.51.166	210.322
Row 10
28.Dennis Vitolo	Dallara/Nissan		2.53.389	207.626
29.Fermin Velez		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.54.324	206.512
30.Greg Ray		Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.48.413	213.760
Row 11
31.Alessandro Zampedri	Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.50.006	211.757
32.Claude Bourbonnais	Dallara/Oldsmobile	2.51.003	210.523
33.Paul Durant		G Force/Oldsmobile	2.52.126	209.149
Row 12
34.Lyn St.James		Dallara/Nissan		2.51.310	210.145
35.Johnny Unser		Dallara/Nissan		2.51.966	209.344

compiled by James Beckett


- 1997 specification IRL car passes the 220 mph barrier


Arie Luyendyk became the first driver to record a lap average of over 220 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the new specification Indy Racing League cars, when he clocked 220.297 mph during Day 5 of the 'Month of May'.

Driving a Treadway Racing G-Force/Oldsmobile-Aurora, Luyendyk set the new standard midway through the days' session that was stopped early due to light rain.

Prior to his record-breaking run, Luyendyk had set the days' best times with laps of 216.060 and 219.421 mph. "It's always fun to be fast and the one people are targeting," said Luyendyk after his hot laps.

"Last year in Vegas we didn't test in the summer because I said it was too hot to test and we were fast right out of the box. Again we have proved we can be fast straight away."

1996 co-champion Scott Sharp in a Conseco AJ Foyt Racing G-Force was second fastest of the day on the 2.5 mile oval, although his day was cut short due to a high-speed accident in Turn 4.

The car sustained heavy left-side damage, and Sharp was removed from the wreck to the Hanna Medical Centre to be later released and cleared by medical officers to continue his driving at the track.

Sharp commented, "The car was exceptional in Turn 3 and 4 and I felt it tighten up in 4, a loud noise and then it turned in. The car turned right around. I can't worry about future accidents because my job is to stand on the button - I was lucky however that the car turned in when it did and I only scraped the wall instead of thumping it."

Following Luyendyk and Sharp on the timesheets were Phoenix 200 winner Jim Guthrie, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart.

Racin Gardner, Joe Gosek, Andy Michner and Dennis Vitolo passed their driver physicals at the track to enable them to participate in official qualifying sessions, while veteran driver Lyn St. James returned to the track for the first time since the shunt during the 1996 event which broke her wrist.

St. James, who did race a Legend car at Las Vegas last September, turned thirty-four laps in the No.90 Lifetime TV/Cynergy entry. Her assistant at LSJ Racing, Deb Turner, confirmed that St. James' wrist had healed - "a bionic wrist and better than ever."

A total of forty-one cars are now at the Speedway. Twenty-nine of which have passed their technical inspections. Another statistic is that twenty-six drivers have been onto the circuit during four days' of testing - thirty three drivers can start the race on May 25th.



Wednesday May 7th


2. No.1 Scott Sharp Conseco AJ Foyt Racing 217.402

3. No.27 Jim Guthrie Jacuzzi/Blueprint Racing 216.076

4. No.42 Robby Gordon Coors Light Sabco 215.993

5. No.2 Tony Stewart Glidden/Menards/Special 215.750

6. No.33 Fermin Velez Team Scandia 214.174

7. No.6 Scott Goodyear Treadway Racing/Nortel 214.123

8. No.12 Buzz Calkins Bradley Food Marts 213.792

9. No.4 Kenny Brack Monsoon Galles Racing 212.821

10. No.7 Eliseo Salazar Copec/Cristal/Scandia 212.465




- pace hots up at Indianapolis

Arie Luyendyk, driving a Treadway Racing Wavephore Miller Lite G-Force/Oldsmobile Aurora, clocked the fastest time on Day 4 of the 1997 'Month of May' recording a speed of 218.707 mph.

The 1990 Indy 500 winner took to the 2.5 mile 'Brickyard' for the first time this year as veteran drivers' began their build-up to the 500 mile race that takes place on May 25th.

Winner of one IRL race todate, Luyendyk led last years event until a collision with Chilean driver Eliseo Salazar put him out. The Dutch driver, based in America, is one of the favourites to win the Borg-Warner Trophy and he would join a small band of great racers to win two Indianapolis 500's.

His speed of 218.707, ahead of NASCAR returnee Robby Gordon and IRL hot-shot Tony Stewart, looks set to fire-up an interesting battle for Pole Position - qualifying for which takes place on Sunday(May 11th).

Luyendyk commented, "The cars are slower than last year and they move around more on the corners. We are flat-out for this type of car on the straights so the time is won or lost in the corners."

He continued, "My engine has been rebuilt by Jack Rousch and he tells me that it is really good now - however I still keep one eye on the oil pressure as I drive around."

Robby Gordon, who set the second fastest time of the day, said after his days' work was complete, "Today I didn't run a flat-out lap. I think this car might be alittle easier to save than the old ones. We're trying to run a lot less downforce because we don't have the horsepower. At least the G-Force chassis is pretty durable."

Swedish driver Kenny Brack was the first to complete all stages of his USAC Rookie Orientation Programme. The Monsoon Galles Racing Driver gained approval from USAC Veteran Observer's Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser Snr. and Johnny Parsons. Brack said afterwards, "They felt my driving overall was stable and consistent. It was great to get their view on the track."

Others to graduate through the test were Robbie Groff, Greg Ray, Vincenzo Sospiri and Affonso Giaffone.

Jeff Ward in the No.52 FirstPlus Team Cheever entry became the first driver to hit the wall during the tests. He suffered an engine problem in Turn 3, which spun him round and into the outside wall.

His G-Force car was damaged at the rear, although not badly, and Ward was cleared to continue driving following checks at a nearby Medical Centre.

Steve Kinser, 14-time World of Outlaw sprint-car champion, has joined the growing band of drivers trying to qualify for this years Indy 500.

The Indiana resident has signed to drive the No.44 One Call/Menards/ Quaker State/Dallara-Oldsmobile for Sinden Racing Services.

Kinser passed his drivers' test back in 1981, but crashed on May 15th, the day before the final qualifying weekend.



Wednesday May 6th


2. No.42 Robby Gordon Coors Light 215.569

3. No.2 Tony Stewart Glidden/Menards/Special 214.337

4. No.91 Buddy Lazier Delta Faucet-Montana 214.128

5. No.1 Scott Sharp Conseco AJ Foyt Racing 214.041

6. No.3 Robbie Buhl Quaker State/Special 213.843

7. No.18 John Paul Jnr. Klipsch/PDM Racing 212.555

8. No.12 Buzz Calkins Bradley Food Marts 212.339

9. No.6 Scott Goodyear Treadway Racing/Nortel 211.282

10. No.33 Fermin Velez Team Scandia 210.280



Formula 1 refugee Vincenzo Sospiri has been setting early 'Month of May' times at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 81st running of the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' on May 25th.

Sospiri, (30), who started the year with the Mastercard Lola Grand Prix team, has switched his attentions to the Indy Racing League for the remainder of the year and to the Andy Evans' Team Scandia outfit.

Taking his USAC 'Rookie Test', Sospiri blasted around the 2.5 mile oval in a Dallara/Oldsmobile at a speed of 211.964 mph to complete four phases of the test that will enable him to progress to the official qualifying sessions that start on Sunday (May 11th).

Sospiri completed seventy-eight laps in his Scandia Royal Purple Alta Xcel badged car, lapping a full six miles-per-hour faster than his nearest rival, Scottish born racer Jeff Ward.

Swedish F3000 race winner, Kenny Brack, clocked the third fastest time in a Monsoon Galles Racing G-Force/Olds., with Indiana dentist Dr. Jack Miller fourth in his Crest toothpaste sponsored G-Force.

Sospiri said, " The Speedway is a little scary but I like it." He continued, " We did have the fastest lap and I'm happy about that. There's alot more speed to catch out there and I think we can go even faster than today. Since I was 14 I have dreamed about winning in Formula 1 and winning the Indy 500. In Fl only two or three teams can win - here everybody can win."



Sunday May 4th



2. No.SlT Jeff Ward FirstPlus Team Cheever 205.780

3. No.4 Kenny Brack Monsoon Galles Racing 204.997

4. No.40 Dr.Jack Miller AMS/Crest Racing 194.246

5. No.30 Robbie Groff McCormack Motorsports 191.759

6. No.16 Sam Schmidt Blueprint Racing 180.386



Monday May 5th



2. No.16 Sam Schmidt Blueprint Racing 198.325

3. No.97 Greg Ray Tobacco Free Kids 185.494

4. No.52 Jeff Ward FirstPlus Team Cheever Under 100





VINCENZO SOSPIRI, 30, will contest this years' 'Month of May' at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Andy Evans owned Team Scandia, writes James Beckett.

The former Benetton test-driver started his season with the ill-fated Mastercard Lola Grand Prix team - but following their shock Formula 1 withdrawl after the opening Grand Prix of the season in Australia, the Italian found himself without a drive on the international scene.

The 1995 FIA International F3000 Champion has visited the Speedway before. He averaged a speed of 222mph in a Scandia-Lola during a test at the tail-end of last year and he returns to the 'Brickyard' with the same team, but with a 1997 specification IR7 Dallara/Oldsmobile chassis.

Sospiri first shot to fame by winning, what is regarded as the greatest ever, Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch back in 1988.

Driving a John Village Automotive Van Diemen RF88, Sospiri failed to see the flag start finding himself well down the pack as the finalists hurtled into Paddock Hill Bend.

A memorable charge saw him race through the pack to take the lead, and win, from Derek Higgins and Jose Cordova in the dying stages.

His FF1600 days were followed by outings in the British Formula 3 Championship, before stepping back down to win the 1990 Formula Vauxhall Euroseries. Eventually he made the break back into top-flight racing and the International F3000 Championship, which he won with Super Nova in 1995.

A year as Benetton-Renault test driver last season, and this years Lola outing being his final steps towards the JRL and the Indy 500.

Sospiri has proved himself time and time again to be a true determined talent, a gladiator in the rain - a problem he wont encounter at Indianapolis, a racer of the highest pedigree.

His one-race deal with Team Scandia in a Dallara/Oldsmobile with backing for the car coming from Royal Purple Alta Xcel, could be the best thing that has ever happened to the resident of Monte Carlo.

A tactical racer, rather than an ace in qualifying, if luck runs his way and if the mighty Olds. 4-litre V8 remains in good health for 500 miles, then it is possible that the name of Vincenzo Sospiri will enter folklore as the winner of the fabulous Borg-Warner Trophy, and the Indianapolis 500.


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