Race: Dura Lube 200

Track: Phoenix International Raceway

Date: Sunday, March 24, 1996

Start time: 2:00 PM MST

Weather: Mild

IRL historical: #2 of 3 in 1996 season, IRL race #2 overall

Track historical: IRL race #1, Indycar race #53 at this track

Track configuration: 1-mile peculiar oval, flat track

Wing package: N/A (old cars)


Arie Luyendyk won his first Indy-type race in five years as he dominated the latter part of the race, after a very competitive first half. Attrition played a part as only nine cars finished. Luyendyk took the lead at the start closely pursued by Roberto Guerrero and Tony Stewart, as rookie Ritchie Hearn slid back from his front-row start. Disney World winner Buzz Calkins was set back by an early spin. Stewart quickly went on the attack, taking second from Guerrero on lap 22 and the lead from Luyendyk four laps later. Hearn also moved back up to third, dropping Luyendyk to fourth, just before Michel Jourdain (son of Indy car veteran Bernard Jourdain) hit the wall in turn 3. Unfortunately, after the wreck, sports-car veteran Fermin Velez couldn't get slowed down fast enough and he rammed Guerrero's car just ahead of the original accident. Jourdain and Velez were out, and Guerrero's car was damaged in several areas and fell out shortly after.

During the yellow, a slow pit stopped caused by an air jack failure dropped Stewart to ninth, and Hearn assumed the lead. The caution period got even stranger, though, as Hearn spun in front of the field on an aborted restart on lap 43. Fortunately, no one hit him, but it handed the lead to another Indy car rookie, Johnny O'Connell -- who promptly pulled in for a late pit stop (part of a fuel strategy), handing the lead in turn to Scott Sharp. (O'Connell was not officlally scored as leading a lap.) At the green Sharp was pursued by Mike Groff and Davey Hamilton, making it Foyt-owned cars in the top three positions, while Stewart went to work getting back to the front. Stewart had reached fourth when Scott Brayton crashed in turn 4 on lap 73. (Ironically, this would be Brayton's final lap in a race, although he was not injured in this crash. He was to die six weeks later in a practice crash at Indy.) During the caution, Hamilton dropped out with an electrical failure. Luyendyk, after some adjustments for a loose condition, returned to the lead with a good pit stop, followed by Indy Lights veteran Robbie Buhl and Groff. At the green, Luyendyk drew away, and at the halfway mark he had nearly a 7-second lead, but then the loose condition returned and the lead evaportated rapidly; Buhl took the lead and Stewart also passed for second. As green flag pit stops were taking place, on lap 128 rookie Jim Guthrie crashed, catching several fast cars in the pits and costing them laps; after the yellow only Luyendyk, Sharp, Groff, and Buhl were still on the lead lap. Groff was subsequently penalized one lap for pitting while the pits were closed during the caution; the penalty would prove very costly, as he quite likely would have won otherwise. Sharp was handicapped by a clutch problem coupled with a stripped starter drive, which meant that his car had to be pushed off after each pit stop. So, when Buhl dropped out on lap 149 with a broken exhaust header, the tale was nearly told; Luyendyk led from lap 134 to the end of the race.

The last hope for any further competition, Stewart, went down on lap 168 with an engine computer problem. The only remaning excitement occurred when Johnny Parsons Jr.'s car caught fire during a pit stop on lap 162; he was able to continue from that but dropped out later. Luyendyk posted his fourth overall victory in Indy-type cars, and his first since a CART race at Nazareth in 1992. Johnny Unser, 15 laps down, was the last car running; David Kudrave placed tenth despite running out of fuel and pulling off on lap 180, the best finish ever for the original Buick V-6 in IRL competition. Luyendyk became possibly the first driver to win Indy-type races under three different sanctioning bodies (this win under the IRL, wins at Phoenix and Nazareth under CART, and the 1990 Indy 500 under USAC), and PIR became the first race track to host Indy-type racing under four sanctioning bodies (AAA, USAC, CART, and IRL).

Fin St  Qual  Car  C/E/T    Driver            Entrant  Laps     Status  Laps Pts
        Spd    #                                                         Led
 1  1  183.599  5  R/F/F Arie Luyendyk       Byrd       200     Running  122  35
 2  6  180.162 11  L/F/G Scott Sharp         Foyt       200     Running   40  33
 3  7  176.117 41  L/F/G Mike Groff          Foyt       199     Running       32
 4  2  182.797  4  R/F/G Ritchie Hearn       DellaPenna 198     Running    7  31
 5 10  174.664 75  R/F/F Johnny O'Connell    Cunningham 197     Running       30
 6  8  175.910 12  R/F/F Buzz Calkins        Bradley    193     Running       29
 7 12  172.828  9  R/F/F Stephan Gregoire    Hemelgarn  190     Running       28
 8 21  160.657 33  L/F/G Michele Alboreto    Scandia    187     Running       27
 9 19  162.031 64  R/F/G Johnny Unser        Proj. Indy 185     Running       26
10 20  160.980 15  L/B/G David Kudrave       Tempero    168 Out of Fuel       25
11  4  181.041 20  L/M/F Tony Stewart        Menard     165  Electrical   11  24
12 17  165.350 16  L/M/F Johnny Parsons Jr.  Blueprint  149   Fuel Pump       23
13 11  173.302 45  L/F/F Robbie Buhl         Beck       148     Exhaust   20  22
14 13  171.707 18  L/M/G John Paul Jr.       PDM        116       Turbo       21
15 18  163.495 27  L/M/F Jim Guthrie         Blueprint  115    Crash T2       20
16  3  181.050 21  R/F/G Roberto Guerrero    Pagan       89    CV Joint       19
17  9  175.567 14  L/F/G Davey Hamilton      Foyt        77  Electrical       18
18  5  180.334  2  L/M/F Scott Brayton       Menard      70    Crash T4       17
19 15  168.808  7  L/F/G Fermin Velez        Scandia     32    Crash T3       16
20 14  171.119 22  L/F/G Michel Jourdain     Scandia     31    Crash T3       15
21 22  No Spd. 90  R/F/G Lyn St. James       Scandia     11  Electrical       14
22 16  168.579 96  L/B/G Paul Durant         ABF          1   Nose Cone       13

Time of race: 01:42:15
Average speed: 117.368 MPH
Margin of victory: 8.896 sec

Laps under green: 162 of 200 laps (81.0%)
Caution flags: 4 for 38 laps (19.0%)
#1: lap 3, spin (Calkins), T2, 6 laps
#2: lap 33, crash (Guerrero, Jourdain, Velez), T3, 16 laps [during yellow: lap 43, spin (Hearn), T4]
#3: lap 73, crash (Brayton), T4, 8 laps
#4: lap 128, crash (Guthrie), T2, 8 laps

Red flags: 0 for 0 minutes

Lead changes: 9, number of different leaders: 5
St: Luyendyk 1-24
#1: Stewart 25-35
#2: Hearn 36-43
#3: Sharp 44-74
#4: Luyendyk 75-102
#5: Buhl 103-107
#6: Luyendyk 118-120
#7: Sharp 121-128
#8: Buhl 129-133
#9: Luyendyk 134-200

C/E/T finish averages (# started / avg finish):
Lola: 14 / 13.1
Reynard: 8 / 8.6
Buick: 2 / 16.0
Ford Cosworth: 15 / 10.1
Menard: 5 / 14.0
Firestone: 9 / 9.4
Goodyear: 13 / 12.8