1997 Pennzoil 200

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United States 1997 New Hampshire
Race details
9th round of the 1996–1997 Indy Racing League season
New Hampshire Motor Speedway.PNG
DateAugust 17, 1997
Official namePennzoil 200
LocationNew Hampshire International Speedway
CoursePermanent racing facility
1.058 mi / 1.703 km
Distance200 laps
211.600 mi / 340.600 km
WeatherDry with temperatures reaching up to 87.1 °F (30.6 °C); wind speeds reaching up to 15 miles per hour (24 km/h)[1]
Pole position
DriverMarco Greco (Galles Racing)
Time23.717
Fastest lap
DriverVincenzo Sospiri (Team Scandia)
Time24.843 (on lap 195 of 200)
Podium
FirstRobbie Buhl (Team Menard)
SecondVincenzo Sospiri (Team Scandia)
ThirdArie Luyendyk (Treadway Racing)

The 1997 Pennzoil 200 was the ninth round of the 1996–1997 Indy Racing League. The race was held on August 17, 1997 at the 1.058 mi (1.703 km) New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire.

Report[edit]

Key Meaning
R Rookie
W Past winner

Qualifying[edit]

Pos No. Name Lap 1 Lap 2 Best (in mph)
1 70 Brazil Marco Greco 23.717 23.764 160.594
2 6 Canada Scott Goodyear 23.814 23.721 160.567
3 4 Sweden Kenny Bräck R 23.761 24.752 160.296
4 33 United States Jimmy Kite R 23.805 25.251 160.000
5 7 Chile Eliseo Salazar 23.878 24.227 159.511
6 77 France Stéphan Grégoire 24.281 24.268 156.947
7 3 United States Robbie Buhl 24.302 24.312 156.728
8 5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 24.319 24.351 156.618
9 22 Italy Vincenzo Sospiri R 24.589 24.549 155.151
10 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero 24.563 24.683 155.062
11 18 United States John Paul, Jr. 24.732 24.653 154.496
12 14 United States Davey Hamilton 24.741 24.672 154.377
13 12 United States Buzz Calkins 24.745 24.912 153.922
14 2 United States Tony Stewart 24.755 25.031 153.860
15 91 United States Buddy Lazier 24.791 24.777 153.723
16 1 United States Billy Boat R 24.966 25.327 152.559
17 17 Brazil Affonso Giaffone R 25.018 25.230 152.242
18 51 United States Eddie Cheever 25.077 25.157 151.884
19 30 United States Robbie Groff R 25.095 25.166 151.775
20 10 United States Johnny Unser 25.165 25.141 151.498
21 27 United States Jim Guthrie R 26.174 26.287 145.518
22 40 United States Jack Miller1 R Didn't qualify No speed
23 28 United States Mark Dismore2 25.531 25.699 149.183
24 99 United States Sam Schmidt3 R Didn't qualify No speed
  1. ^ Didn't qualify because of handling issues. He was allowed to start the race at the back of the field.
  2. ^ Changed his Riley & Scott chassis, which was making its debut, for a Dallara chassis and was demoted to the back of the field.
  3. ^ Couldn't qualify after his chassis had been damaged in a practice crash. He was allowed to start the race at the back of the field.

Failed to qualify or withdrew[edit]

Race[edit]

Robbie Buhl, coming off an injury suffered at Pikes Peak, took the closest victory in IRL history. Buhl survived a race of attrition that saw several drivers suffer mechanical failures while leading. The first 10 laps were run almost entirely under caution, after a spin by Robbie Groff and a gearbox failure for Jim Guthrie on the opening lap and a botched restart when Jimmy Kite spun coming off turn 4.

Once racing finally got started, unexpected pole sitter Marco Greco was strong in the lead but he handed it over to Scott Goodyear on lap 35 when he pitted under caution after a crash by Sam Schmidt. On lap 63, a broken oil line fitting made him spin off turn 4 and the resulting caution and pit stop by Goodyear allowed Eliseo Salazar to take the lead, which he maintained. Not long after the restart, Buddy Lazier also spun on the tricky turn 4, bringing out the fifth caution in less than 70 laps.

Meanwhile, Eddie Cheever who started from 18th spot, moved into second place by lap 40 and assumed the lead on lap 96 when Salazar pitted under caution after a crash by Affonso Giaffone. Cheever held the lead until the next round of pit stops, starting on lap 133. Buhl had remained in the top 10 since early in the race, running in the top 5 most of the time. Goodyear's engine failed on lap 153, bringing out another caution and a round of pit stops that shuffled the field. The then-leader, Kenny Bräck, had a slow pit stop, while Stéphan Grégoire, who was running second, suffered a mechanical failure.

Cheever took over the lead again after the green, followed by Buhl. Both had gambled on stopping earlier, strategy that paid off due to the caution, as they were able to stretch his fuel load to the finish, running very close to each other. But on the second-to-last lap Cheever's gearbox failed, slowing abruptly on the backstretch. Buhl had to slow significantly too to avoid a crash and Vincenzo Sospiri rapidly made up a gap of several seconds. On the last lap, Buhl encountered heavy traffic on the backstretch. Sospiri, with less worn tires, avoided it by running high, came off turn 4 nose to tail with Buhl, and made it side by side to the finish line, but Buhl won by a nose.

With only one race left in the calendar, Tony Stewart slightly increased his advantage in the championship. Despite blowing his engine with 26 laps to go in what already was a difficult weekend (having only qualified in 14th place and never being able to contend for the top spots), he got 3 more points than Davey Hamilton, who also had engine troubles 53 laps earlier. Hamilton was the only driver with mathematical chances to beat Stewart, as Cheever was 38 points behind the leader.

Pos No. Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Laps Led Points
1 3 United States Robbie Buhl Team Menard 200 1:46:50.574 7 3 35
2 22 Italy Vincenzo Sospiri R    Team Scandia 200 + 0.064 sec 9 1 33
3 5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing 200 + 4.626 sec 8 2 32
4 7 Chile Eliseo Salazar Team Scandia 200 + 9.363 sec 5 39 31
5 4 Sweden Kenny Bräck R Galles Racing 200 + 10.164 sec 3 9 30
6 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero Pagan Racing 200 + 15.917 sec 10 0 29
7 18 United States John Paul, Jr. PDM Racing 199 + 1 lap 11 1 28
8 1 United States Billy Boat R A. J. Foyt Enterprises 199 + 1 lap 16 0 27
9 51 United States Eddie Cheever Team Cheever 198 Gearbox 18 80 27
10 30 United States Robbie Groff R McCormack Motorsports 198 + 2 laps 19 0 25
11 28 United States Mark Dismore Kelley Racing-PDM 197 + 3 laps 23 0 24
12 91 United States Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing 195 + 5 laps 15 0 23
13 10 United States Johnny Unser Byrd-Cunningham Racing 189 + 11 laps 20 0 22
14 2 United States Tony Stewart Team Menard 174 Engine 14 0 21
15 77 France Stéphan Grégoire Chastain Motorsports 154 Electrical 6 0 20
16 6 Canada Scott Goodyear Treadway Racing 152 Engine 2 31 19
17 14 United States Davey Hamilton A. J. Foyt Enterprises 121 Engine 12 0 18
18 17 Brazil Affonso Giaffone R Chitwood Motorsports 93 Accident 17 0 17
19 40 United States Jack Miller R Arizona Motorsports 81 Handling 22 0 16
20 70 Brazil Marco Greco Galles Racing 59 Oil fitting 1 34 17
21 12 United States Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports 36 Electrical 13 0 14
22 99 United States Sam Schmidt R LP Racing-PCI 30 Accident 24 0 13
23 33 United States Jimmy Kite R Team Scandia 4 Accident 4 0 12
24 27 United States Jim Guthrie R Blueprint Racing 0 Gearbox 21 0 11

Race Statistics[edit]

  • Lead changes: 12 among 9 drivers


Standings after the race[edit]