1997 Phoenix 200

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United States   1996–1997 Phoenix
Race details
4th Round of the 1996–97 Indy Racing League.
Track diagram of Phoenix International Raceway layout
Date March 23, 1997
Official name Phoenix 200
Location Phoenix International Raceway
Course Permanent racing facility
1.000 / 1.609 km
Distance 200 laps, 200.000 mi / 321.869 km
Weather Dry with temperatures reaching up to 89.6 °F (32.0 °C); wind speeds reaching up to 15.9 miles per hour (25.6 km/h)[1]
Pole
Driver United States Tony Stewart United States Team Menard
Time 21.175
Fastest Lap
Driver United States Tony Stewart United States Team Menard
Time 22.135 (on lap 11 of 200)
Podium
First United States Jim Guthrie United States Blueprint Racing
Second United States Tony Stewart United States Team Menard
Third United States Davey Hamilton United States A. J. Foyt Enterprises

The 1997 Phoenix 200 was the fourth round of the 1996–1997 Indy Racing League. The race was held on March 23, 1997 at the 1.000 mi (1.609 km) Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.

Report[edit]

Key Meaning
R Rookie
W Past winner

Qualifying[edit]

2-laps qualifying. The worst lap from any of the drivers is unknown.

Pos No. Name Lap Best (in mph)
1 2 United States Tony Stewart 21.175 170.012
2 27 United States Jim Guthrie R 21.241 169.484
3 6 Canada Scott Goodyear 21.681 166.044
4 5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk W 21.715 165.784
5 3 United States Robbie Buhl 21.956 163.964
6 16 United States Sam Schmidt R 21.973 163.837
7 51 United States Eddie Cheever 22.017 163.510
8 22 Brazil Marco Greco 22.019 163.495
9 4 Sweden Kenny Brack R 22.027 163.436
10 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero W 22.075 163.080
11 18 United States John Paul, Jr. 22.100 162.896
12 30 United States Jeret Schroeder R 22.136 162.631
13 91 United States Buddy Lazier 22.148 162.543
14 14 United States Davey Hamilton 22.161 162.448
15 33 Spain Fermín Vélez R 22.235 161.907
16 10 United States Mike Groff 22.520 159.858
17 50 United States Billy Roe R 22.650 158.940
18 40 United States Jack Miller R 22.779 158.040
19 77 France Stephan Gregoire 23.235 154.939
20 1 United States Scott Sharp Didn't qualify No speed
21 17 Brazil Affonso GiaffoneR Didn't qualify No speed
22 12 United States Buzz Calkins 21.947 164.032
  • † Sharp and Giaffone didn't qualify, but were allowed to start the race at the back of the field.
    Calkins had to change to a backup car for the race, following a crash in a practice session after qualifying.

Failed to qualify or withdrew[edit]

Race[edit]

Rookie Jim Guthrie survived a slow, attrition-filled race to capture his first IRL victory. A seemingly minor design detail (an oil line fitting on the Oldsmobile Aurora engine) resulted in blown engines and oil spills throughout the afternoon. Tony Stewart assumed the lead at the start as expected, but was dogged by persistent rookie Jim Guthrie in his unsponsored car (for which he had taken a second mortgage on his house). The race got off with two caution flags in the first twenty laps, one for Arie Luyendyk's blown engine, the first of many throughout the day.

Luyendyk's teammate Scott Goodyear also blew his engine on lap 51, triggering a four-car crash out of which only Sam Schmidt was able to continue, although he would later be eliminated in another crash. Another rookie, Affonso Giaffone, lead briefly until encountering driveline problems. Scott Sharp also led briefly until his engine blew; engine problems also sidelined Walt Disney World winner Eddie Cheever and contender Buddy Lazier. When Sharp retired on lap 66, Stewart reassumed the lead while Kenny Brack, in his first IRL race, moved up through the field. Guthrie assumed the lead on lap 95 when Stewart pitted, and held the lead until he pitted during a caution on lap 119. Brack found himself in the lead after this caution, and held the lead until his car got loose and he crashed on lap 146. Guthrie regained the lead during the subsequent caution, with Hamilton and Stewart in pursuit.

On lap 180, a crash involving Sam Schmidt brought out a lengthy yellow flag. In an effort to run down Guthrie after the restart, Stewart made one last effort, pitting twice under the caution, once to put on sticker option tires and once for a wing adjustment. Guthrie stayed out, looking to stretch his fuel. The green waved on lap 191. Three laps later Stewart was back up to second and was gaining on Guthrie at a half second per lap. But Guthrie made one last charge on the final lap, negotiating traffic well, and Stewart ran out of time, losing by 0.854 seconds.

Guthrie's win was the first Indy car victory by an unsponsored team since Arie Luyendyk's triumph in the same venue in 1991. The $170,100 payoff for the victorious Guthrie helped settle his debts, and the storybook win brought sponsorship from Jacuzzi for Indianapolis and beyond, assuring Guthrie's continued career. The race went down in Indy car lore as one of the biggest upsets in series history, with Guthrie one of the biggest underdogs ever to win an Indy car event.

Pos No. Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Laps Led Points
1 27 United States Jim Guthrie R Blueprint Racing 200 2:14:32.667 2 74 35
2 2 United States Tony Stewart Team Menard 200 + 0.854 sec 1 85 36
3 14 United States Davey Hamilton A. J. Foyt Enterprises 200 Running 14 0 32
4 22 Brazil Marco Greco Team Scandia 199 + 1 lap 8 0 31
5 77 France Stephan Gregoire Chastain Motorsports 199 + 1 lap 19 0 30
6 10 United States Mike Groff Byrd-Cunningham Racing 195 + 5 laps 16 0 29
7 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero W Pagan Racing 194 + 6 laps 10 0 28
8 12 United States Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports 187 + 13 laps 22 0 27
9 18 United States John Paul, Jr. PDM Racing 179 + 21 laps 11 0 26
10 16 United States Sam Schmidt R Blueprint Racing 176 Accident T4 6 0 25
11 4 Sweden Kenny Bräck R Galles Racing 145 Accident T4 9 24 24
12 51 United States Eddie Cheever Team Cheever 120 Overheating 7 0 23
13 17 Brazil Affonso Giaffone R Chitwood Motorsports 114 Half Shaft 21 13 22
14 33 Spain Fermin Velez R Team Scandia 94 Electrical 15 0 21
15 50 United States Billy Roe R Eurointernational 82 Accident T3/Engine 17 0 20
16 1 United States Scott Sharp A. J. Foyt Enterprises 65 Engine 20 4 19
17 6 Canada Scott Goodyear Treadway Racing 52 Engine 3 0 18
18 3 United States Robbie Buhl Team Menard 51 Accident T2 5 0 17
19 30 United States Jeret Schroeder R McCormack Motorsports 51 Accident T2 12 0 16
20 40 United States Jack Miller R Arizona Motorsport 33 Fuel Pickup 18 0 15
21 91 United States Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing 31 Engine 13 0 14
22 5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk W Treadway Racing 11 Mechanical 4 0 13

Standings after the race[edit]