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1996 American Championship Car season
Series  : Indy Racing League
Champion : USAflagsmall Buzz Calkins
USAflagsmall Scott Sharp
Previous: 1995 (ICWS) Next: 1996–97

The first season of Indy Racing League competition consisted of three races. Walt Disney World Speedway was completed in time to host the first race of the season, and the first ever event of the IRL. Phoenix International Raceway switched alliances from CART to IRL and hosted the second event of the season. The 1996 season concluded with the 80th Indianapolis 500.

At the conclusion of the three-race schedule, Scott Sharp and Buzz Calkins ended up tied for first place in the season championship. With no tiebreaker rule in place, the two drivers were declared co-champions.

Series schedule developmentEdit

On January 23, 1995, at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort the IRL announced the dates for two of the races scheduled for the inaugural 1996 season. The Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway was scheduled for January 27, 1996 and 80th Indianapolis 500 was set for May 26, 1996. On April 3, the IRL announced that Phoenix International Raceway and the then-under construction Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be on the 1996 schedule, but no dates were confirmed. Later that month, on April 13, 1995, the respective dates were finalized for Phoenix (March 24, 1996) and Las Vegas (September 15, 1996). On May 30, 1995, New Hampshire Motor Speedway officially switched alliances from CART to IRL, and scheduled their race for August 18.

The original plan was to have every Indy Racing League season end with the Indianapolis 500. Thus the IRL champion would be awarded at the conclusion of the Indy 500, and quite possibly could be the Indy 500 winner. The next season (in this case the 1996–97 season) would begin immediately after the Indy 500, and spread over two calendar years to conclude at the next Indianapolis 500. As a result, the two races at New Hampshire and Las Vegas, already announced, would in fact open the 1996–97 season. The schedule format, however, went against the traditional motorsports grain, and the idea was eventually scrapped in October. The 1996–97 season was expanded in order to bring the schedule back in sync with the rest of the motorsports world for 1998.

ControversyEdit

In a controversial move, in July 1995, it was announced that the top 25 drivers in IRL points would secure guaranteed starting positions for the 1996 Indianapolis 500. Presumably, that left only eight positions open for at-large competitors. However, some interpreted the rule otherwise.[1]

The IRL points system was to be staggered to adjust for the number of races each driver entered. The number of points awarded per race would be multiplied by the number of events the driver had participated in. For example, if a driver had entered all three events, the points awarded for that third race were multiplied by three. This move was supposed to be an encouragement to enter all IRL events, but it did not attract any additional teams from the rival CART series.

Initially, IRL officials hoped that competitors from the rival CART series would choose to race in the IRL events, presumably since there were no foreseen conflicts in their respective schedules. The 1996 IRL schedule was finalized by May 30, 1995. However, a couple weeks later the CART series announced their 1996 schedule, immediately with conflicting dates. The CART race at Road America was scheduled for the same day as the IRL event at Loudon, while the CART races at Rio and Australia were bookended around the IRL race at Phoenix, creating an impossible travel situation. The only CART teams that participated in any IRL events in 1996 were Galles and Walker, but neither fielded drivers who were CART regulars.

MachinesEdit

The season was contested with 1995 and older CART chassis produced by Lola and Reynard with a fixed limit on how much a team could spend on its combination. In addition, nearly every car was powered by a Ford Cosworth XB, Menard V6 or Buick V6 engine. Despite the short season, only fifteen drivers competed in all three. All races were well-attended by competitors as a legal chassis and engine combination could be acquired for well under $100,000.

1996 Indy Racing League schedule Edit

All races running on Oval/Speedway.

Rnd Date Race Name Distance Track Location Pole position Fastest lap Most Laps Led Winner
1 January 27 USAflagsmall Indy 200 at Walt Disney World 200 laps
200 miles
Walt Disney World Speedway Bay Lake, Florida USAflagsmall Buddy Lazier USAflagsmall Buzz Calkins USAflagsmall Buzz Calkins USAflagsmall Buzz Calkins
2 March 24 USAflagsmall Dura Lube 200 200 laps
200 miles
Phoenix International Raceway Phoenix, Arizona 22px-Flag of the Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 22px-Flag of the Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 22px-Flag of the Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 22px-Flag of the Netherlands Arie Luyendyk
3 May 26 USAflagsmall 80th Indianapolis 500 200 laps
500 miles
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Speedway, Indiana USAflagsmall Tony Stewart* USAflagsmall Eddie Cheever 22px-Flag of Colombia Roberto Guerrero USAflagsmall Buddy Lazier

* - Scott Brayton was the fastest qualifier for the 1996 Indianapolis 500, but was killed during practice. Hence, second-fastest qualifier Tony Stewart started from the pole.

Team and Driver ChartEdit

Team Chassis Engine No Drivers Notes
USAflagsmall A. J. Foyt Enterprises Lola T9500/T9400 Ford Cosworth XB 41/11 USAflagsmall Scott Sharp
11/41 USAflagsmall Mike Groff Walt Disney World & Phoenix only.
14 USAflagsmall Davey Hamilton
41 25px-Brazilflag Marco Greco Indy 500 only.
84 USAflagsmall Billy Boat Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Bradley Motorsports Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth XB 12 USAflagsmall Buzz Calkins
USAflagsmall Team Menard Lola T9500 Menard V6 2 USAflagsmall Scott Brayton Won the pole for the Indy 500 but was fatally injured in a practice crash and replaced by Danny Ongais.
3 USAflagsmall Eddie Cheever Wrecked practice at Phoenix.
20 USAflagsmall Tony Stewart
32 USAflagsmall Danny Ongais Indy 500 only.
30 USAflagsmall Mark Dismore Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Pagan Racing Reynard 94I/95I Ford Cosworth XB 21 22px-Flag of Colombia Roberto Guerrero
Lola T9200 Buick V6 87 USAflagsmall Billy Boat Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Project Indy Reynard 94I/95I Ford Cosworth XB 64 USAflagsmall Johnny Unser Phoenix & Indy 500 only.
Lola T9300 46 25px-Newzealandflag Rob Wilson Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Della Penna Motorsports Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth XB 4 USAflagsmall Richie Hearn
44 USAflagsmall Scott Harrington Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Hemelgarn Racing Reynard 94I/95I Ford Cosworth XB 9 22px-Flag of France Stéphan Grégoire
91 USAflagsmall Buddy Lazier Wrecked practice at Phoenix.
10 25px-AustraliaFLAG Brad Murphey Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Byrd-Cunningham Racing Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth XB 75 USAflagsmall Johnny O'Connell
USAflagsmall Galles Racing Lola T9500 Mercedes-Ilmor 70 USAflagsmall Davy Jones Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Walker Racing Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth XB 60 USAflagsmall Mike Groff Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Team Scandia Lola T9500/T9400
Reynard 95I
Ford Cosworth XB 33 22px-Flag of Italy Michele Alboreto
90 USAflagsmall Lyn St. James Walt Disney World & Phoenix only.
USAflagsmall Racin Gardner Indy 500 only.
22 25px-Mexicoflag Michel Jourdain, Jr. Phoenix & Indy 500 only.
7/34 22px-Flag of Spain Fermín Vélez Phoenix & Indy 500 only.
7 22px-Flag of Chile Eliseo Salazar Indy 500 only, wrecked practice at Walt Disney World.
8 22px-Flag of Italy Alessandro Zampedri Indy 500 only.
43 USAflagsmall Joe Gosek Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Tempero-Giuffre Racing Lola T9300/T9200 Buick V6 25/15 USAflagsmall Dave Kudrave Walt Disney World & Phoenix only, did not qualify at Indy 500.
15 USAflagsmall Bill Tempero Walt Disney World only but did not qualify.
22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Justin Bell Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
25 USAflagsmall Racin Gardner Phoenix only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall ABF Motorsports Lola T9200 Buick V6 96 USAflagsmall Paul Durant Phoenix & Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Leigh Miller Racing Lola T9400 Ford Cosworth XB 17 USAflagsmall Stan Wattles Walt Disney World only, wrecked practice at Phoenix.
USAflagsmall Blueprint Racing Lola T9300 Menard V6 16 USAflagsmall Johnny Parsons
27 USAflagsmall Jim Guthrie Phoenix & Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Byrd-Treadway Racing Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth XB 5 22px-Flag of the Netherlands Arie Luyendyk
USAflagsmall Zunne Group Racing Lola T9400 Ford Cosworth XB 45 USAflagsmall Lyn St. James Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall Randy Tolsma Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Beck Motorsports Lola T9400
Reynard 94I
Ford Cosworth XB 54/45 USAflagsmall Robbie Buhl
52 Flag-of-japansmall Hideshi Matsuda Indy 500 only.
USAflagsmall PDM Racing Lola T9300 Ford Cosworth XB

Menard V6

18 USAflagsmall John Paul, Jr.
USAflagsmall Delorto Motorsports Lola T9200 Buick V6 81 USAflagsmall Rick DeLorto Walt Disney World only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Brickell Racing Lola T9300 Menard V6 77 USAflagsmall Butch Brickell Walt Disney World & Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Tyce Carlson Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall O'Brien Motorsports Lola T9200 Buick V6 26 USAflagsmall Jim Buick Walt Disney World only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Loop Hole Racing Lola T9200/T9100 Buick V6 36 USAflagsmall Dan Drinan Phoenix & Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Tyce Carlson Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall Andy Michner Indy 500 only but did not qualify.
USAflagsmall McCormack Motorsports Lola T9300 Ford Cosworth XB 24 USAflagsmall Randy Tolsma Indy 500 only but did not qualify.

Race summariesEdit

Indy 200 at Walt Disney WorldEdit

The first race for the new Indy Racing League was held January 27 at Walt Disney World Speedway and televised on ABC. Though no CART teams showed up, a full field of 25 cars arrived, with 20 qualifying. Buddy Lazier won the pole position with a track record 181.388 mph (19.847 seconds). Indycar rookies Tony Stewart and Buzz Calkins emerged as race leaders most of the afternoon, while former CART veterans Eddie Cheever, Scott Brayton, Arie Luyendyk, and Buddy Lazier all fell by the wayside. On lap 189, Scott Sharp and Eddie Cheever tangled and crashed in turn one, which set up a restart with 6 laps to go. Calkins and Stewart restarted together nose-to-tail, and Calkins held off the challenge to win by 0.886 seconds.

Top ten results

  1. Buzz Calkins
  2. Tony Stewart
  3. Robbie Buhl
  4. Michele Alboreto
  5. Roberto Guerrero
  6. Mike Groff
  7. Johnny O'Connell
  8. Lyn St. James
  9. John Paul, Jr.
  10. Eddie Cheever

Dura Lube 200Edit

Held March 24 at Phoenix International Raceway. Arie Luyendyk won the pole. On the 128th lap, Foyt Racing drivers Scott Sharp and Mike Groff (running 1st-2nd) ducked into the pits for their final stop. However, they did not see that the yellow flag had come out, and were penalized one lap for pitting while the pits were closed. Robbie Buhl suffered a broken header, which left Arie Luyendyk in the lead for the final 66 laps to victory.

Top ten results

  1. Arie Luyendyk
  2. Scott Sharp
  3. Mike Groff
  4. Richie Hearn
  5. Johnny O'Connell
  6. Buzz Calkins
  7. Stéphan Grégoire
  8. Michele Alboreto
  9. Johnny Unser
  10. David Kudrave

80th Indianapolis 500Edit

The first Indy 500 of the Indy Racing League era was held May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Scott Brayton won the pole but was fatally injured in a practice crash and replaced by Danny Ongais. Tony Stewart started the race from the pole. Arie Luyendyk set the fastest qualifying lap on the second day of qualifying with track 1 and 4 lap records that still stand.

Top ten results

  1. Buddy Lazier
  2. Davy Jones
  3. Richie Hearn
  4. Alessandro Zampedri
  5. Roberto Guerrero
  6. Eliseo Salazar
  7. Danny Ongais
  8. Hideshi Matsuda
  9. Robbie Buhl
  10. Scott Sharp

Final driver standingsEdit

Pos Driver WDW
USAflagsmall
PHX
USAflagsmall
INDY
USAflagsmall
PtsTemplate:Smallsup
1 USAflagsmall Buzz Calkins 1* 6 17 246
USAflagsmall Scott Sharp 11 2 10 246
3 USAflagsmall Robbie Buhl 3 13 9 240
4 USAflagsmall Richie Hearn 19 4 3 237
22px-Flag of Colombia Roberto Guerrero 5 16 5* 237
6 USAflagsmall Mike Groff 6 3 20 228
7 22px-Flag of the Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 14 1* 16 225
8 USAflagsmall Tony Stewart 2 11 24 204
9 USAflagsmall Johnny O'Connell 7 5 29 192
USAflagsmall Davey Hamilton 12 17 12 192
11 22px-Flag of Italy Michele Alboreto 4 8 30 189
12 USAflagsmall Lyn St. James 8 21 14 186
13 22px-Flag of France Stéphan Grégoire 16 7 27 165
14 USAflagsmall Buddy Lazier 17 DNS 1 159
15 USAflagsmall John Paul, Jr. 9 14 31 153
16 USAflagsmall Eddie Cheever 10 DNS 11 147
17 USAflagsmall Johnny Parsons 18 12 28 141
18 USAflagsmall Scott Brayton 15 18 DNSTemplate:Smallsup 111
19 USAflagsmall David Kudrave 20 10 DNQ 80
20 25px-Mexicoflag Michel Jourdain, Jr. 20 13 74
USAflagsmall Jim Guthrie 15 18 74
22 22px-Flag of Spain Fermín Vélez 19 21 60
23 [[Image:Template:Country flag alias CHI22x20px}}|Template:Country alias CHI]] Eliseo Salazar DNS 6 58
24 USAflagsmall Johnny Unser 9 33 56
25 USAflagsmall Stan Wattles 13 DNS 44
26 USAflagsmall Davy Jones 2 33
27 USAflagsmall Paul Durant 22 32 32
28 22px-Flag of Italy Alessandro Zampedri 4 31
29 USAflagsmall Danny Ongais 7 28
30 Flag-of-japansmall Hideshi Matsuda 8 27
31 USAflagsmall Scott Harrington 15 20
USAflagsmall Racin Gardner DNQ 25 20
33 USAflagsmall Mark Dismore 19 16
34 USAflagsmall Joe Gosek 22 13
35 25px-AustraliaFLAG Brad Murphey 23 12
36 25px-Brazilflag Marco Greco 26 9
[[Image:Template:Country flag alias GB22x20px}}|Template:Country alias GB]] Justin Bell DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Billy Boat DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Butch Brickell DNQ DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Jim Buick DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Tyce Carlson DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Rick DeLorto DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Dan Drinan DNQ DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Andy Michner DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Bill Tempero DNQ 0
USAflagsmall Randy Tolsma DNQ 0
25px-Newzealand flag Rob Wilson DNQ 0
Pos Driver WDW
USAflagsmall
PHX
USAflagsmall
INDY
USAflagsmall
PtsTemplate:Smallsup
Color Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green 4th & 5th place
Light Blue 6th-10th place
Dark Blue Finished
(Outside Top 10)
Purple Did not finish
(Ret)
Red Did not qualify
(DNQ)
Brown Withdrawn
(Wth)
Black Disqualified
(DSQ)
White Did not start
(DNS)
Blank Did not
participate
(DNP)
Not competing
In-line notation
Bold Pole position
Italics Ran fastest race lap
* Led most race laps
PtsTemplate:Smallsup The number of points awarded per race
would be multiplied by the number of events
the driver had participated in.

In every race, points are awarded to drivers on the following basis:

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
Points 35 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
  • Ties in points not broken by number of wins, etc.
  • No additional points to the pole winner or the driver leading the most laps were awarded.

Note Edit

Template:Smallsup Scott Brayton, 37, won the pole for the 1996 Indianapolis 500, but was killed in a crash during practice after qualifying.

See also Edit

References Edit

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