1997-98 Round 3
Ford 500 - Mini Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, WI
October 2, 1997
Round 3 of 14
PPPG DECLARES BAAS FORD 500 WINNER IN CLOSEST FINISH EVER
WEST ALLIS, WI (Oct. 6, 1997) - Under the moonlight of a beautiful warm autumn evening here last Thursday,
a epic battle was being fought in the 1997 Ford 500 on the Mini Milwaukee Mile 'bullring' oval. Veteran Ev
Kamikawa on the outside and sophomore driver John Baas on the inside having the ride of his PPPG career in
his first Final Four ever. And after 500 laps the finish was even too close for the video tape to determ ine who
won. The Marlboro Penske Mercedes of Bass nudged forward coming out of the final turn, only to be reeled in by
the Ferrari of Kamikawa as the two desperately raced for the line.
Once the race ended, the PPPG board met for several moments in private only to emerge saying a complete
review of the race, the rules and the cars involved would take place over the weekend before the winner would be
announced. In the end it was determined that John Baas had won his first PPPG event in his 15th career start. It
also marks the unofficial 100th win of Roger Penske's storied racing career.
PPPG Commissioner Phil Cianciola released a statement 36 hours after the race had ended congratulating both
drivers on an excellent effort. "This was an extremely difficult task for myself and the entire board of the PPPG,"
explained Cianciola. "First of all, an in-depth review of enhanced and enlarged frames of the video tape of the
race was done at the studios of Today's TMJ 4, for which the PPPG is grateful. The result was still an incredible
dead heat on tape. Techmaster Jim Kaehny did a complete post-race mechanical check of both the race cars
involved and found nothing in violation of any PPPG rules."
Cianciola went on to .explain the final decision came down to the rule book from the actual PPG series, from
section 6.10 regarding finishing positions. "The rule clearly states that in case of a tie the car with the most
rearward starting position shall be awarded the better finishing position. In keeping with the spirit and intent of
this rule, Mr. Baas had to come from further behind during the course of the night since he was neither the pole
sitter nor a heat race winner."
Kamikawa, who collected his seventh career pole, led for most of the first half of the Ford 500, relinquishing that
lead during the first round of pit stops when a fuel hose refused to engage smoothly in the Ferrari pit. Baas
picked up the lead briefly, but he too ran into trouble during what was supposed to be a routine stop for fuel. For
the second time this season, a Penske car had a mysterious overheating problem and there was smoke at the
back of the #3 Marlboro car. Despite falling behind by several laps, Baas fought back to run wheel-to-wheel to the
Kamikawa vaults to the PPPG Cup points lead for the second time in his long career by three over Dave Austin,
who finished a distant sixth in the Ford 500. Austin's LC I Reynard/Honda ran into problems when it collected a
giant bug that had landed on the track.
Racing in the new Jelly Belly Swift/Ford for the first time, veteran Jim Kaehny brought home a podium finish in
third, while last year's Ford 500 winner Chad Sorce rounded out the Final in fourth. Sorce is now the only driver
this season to have made all three Final Four's.
Even though Dan Margetta was again fast, he settled for fifth place. Margetta put his Motorola Ford second on
the grid and actually out paced all of the drivers in the other heat. "Man, I had more laps than everybody else in
the other heat and / 'm the one that has to go home," he said afterward.
One of the big stories of the night was defending series champion Phil Cianciola's failure to drive through the
pain of his burn injuries from a crash in Indy two weeks earlier. He qualified in a tie for seventh but withdrew
after needing help getting out of his Penske/Mercedes after the qualifying run.
Harley-Davidson driver Tom Spehert took the early lead for Rookie of the Year honors, scoring his first points
ever by finishing seventh. Tony Perkins struggled mightily with an ill-handling Williams/Renault, spending more
time off the track than on it. He finished a disappointing eighth.
The PPPG CART World Series travels to Wauwatosa, WI next, for the Parma Fall Classic at Vernon Farms
Super Speedway. This will mark the first race ever at this brand new tri-oval track. The occasion will be marked
by a visit from long-time Indy 500 starter Duane Sweeney who will flag the start of the race.
PPPG CART ·WORLD SERIES· RACE PREVIEW
o WHAT: The Ford 500
oWHERE: The Mini Milwaukee Mile West Allis, WI
o WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 2nd 7:00 p.m.
o DEFENDING CHAMPION: Chad Sorce--15:12
o DEFENDING POLESITTER: Ev Kamikawa--281 laps
o TRACK LAYOUT: "Bullring" oval
o RACE LENGTH: 500 laps
o RACE RECORDS: Qualifying- Arnie Lueders 286 laps 1995
Race- Chad Sorce 15: 12 1996
o RACE #: 3 of 14
o NEXT EVENT: The Parma Fall Classic Thursday, Oct. 16th
Vernon Farms Super Speedway Wauwatosa, WI
o I NST ANT REPLAY
Last year, young Chad Sorce shocked the H.O. Indy world by jumping out to an early
lead then hanging on for his first career PPPG win in just his tenth start. The closest
anyone could come was Dave Austin, 16 laps back in second place. Phil Cianciola
was close behind Austin in third, while Jim Kaehny hung on to fourth place. Ev
Kamikawa nabbed the fifth pole of his long PPPG career. Dan Margetta struggled so
mightily with an ill-handling Lola chassis that he was placed on probation after the
Consi race for rough driving in several incidents with Tony Perkins.
Other items of interest from last year's race ...
It was a clean race, without one DNF ... lt marked the first win of the season for
Goodyear tires ... Austin and Kaehny came away tied for the points lead ... Rookies Jim
Kaluzny and John Baas failed to grid ... The only race of the season run outdoors
under the lights was moved inside due to drizzle and fog in Cudahy, Wisconsin.
PPPG FORD 500 HISTORY
Year Race Winner Pole Winner
Things to watch for this year ...
No one has ever been able to repeat a win or a pole in this race, so that does not
bode well for Chad Sorce, winner a year ago. Still, having put his Leinenkugel's team
on the podium in third place in the first two races of the season, this guy has to be
the favorite. Will former champion Phil Cianciola be able to race while recovering
from severe thigh burns in his crash at Indy? Jim Kaehny, who missed the Indy race,
will debut his new Jelly Belly Racing car.