Puneet Varma

1997 Samsonite 200

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Date  June 29, 1997
Official name  Samsonite 200
1997 Samsonite 200
Location  Pikes Peak International Raceway
Course  Permanent racing facility 1.000 mi / 1.609 km
Distance  200 laps 200.000 mi / 321.869 km
Weather  Dry with temperatures reaching up to 84.9 °F (29.4 °C); wind speeds reaching up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h)

The 1997 Samsonite 200 (also referred to as the Colorado 200 on ABC's TV coverage) was the seventh round of the 1996–1997 Indy Racing League. The race was held on June 29, 1997, at the 1.000 mi (1.609 km) Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colorado.

Contents

Failed to qualify or withdrew

  • Jim Guthrie R for Blueprint Racing - crashed during Friday's first practice session and was hospitalised with a fractured vertebra.
  • Robbie Buhl for Team Menard - suffered a concussion during testing on June 4 and was unable to compete.
  • Mike Groff for Byrd-Cunningham Racing - entered for the race, but not cleared to drive because of the injuries suffered at Texas. Replaced by Johnny Unser
  • John Paul, Jr. for PDM Racing - entered for the race, but not cleared to drive because of the injuries suffered at Indianapolis. Replaced by Billy Boat R
  • Alessandro Zampedri for Team Scandia - Although not officially withdrawn for the weekend, he didn't appear at the track, as Team Scandia downgraded its operation from five to three cars following an engine shortage at Texas and a reshuffle of the team's lineup,
  • Race

    Tony Stewart came into this race having just missed victory in the past three IRL races, but he put the issue beyond doubt by dominating this race, leading all but seven of the 200 laps. The race started off with polesitter Scott Sharp wrecking on the first lap. He suffered a non-contact brain injury, despite relatively minor damage to the car. The accident (following a similar accident 2 weeks before which forced Stewart's teammate Robbie Buhl to miss the race) revived concern about the cars' inability to absorb energy in a rear-end accident, leading to changes in the gearbox case and bellhousing. Sharp would miss the rest of the season as the result of the injury. Turns 2 and 4 were treacherous all day, and several early crashes resulted in lengthy cleanups and many laps under caution.

    Eddie Cheever dogged Stewart all day long, and Stéphan Grégoire led his first-ever laps in an IRL race. In the end neither of them had enough for Stewart, but after a late caution Cheever, Davey Hamilton, and Grégoire dueled three-wide for second. Grégoire broke out and attempted to slingshot Stewart at the finish line, missing by about a car length. Cheever and Hamilton finished side-by-side with Hamilton taking third. The win was Stewart's first in his Indy car career, and the first win for team owner John Menard after 18 years of Indy car competition. Seven cars finished the race on the lead lap, an IRL record.

    References

    1997 Samsonite 200 Wikipedia


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