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INDIANAPOLIS 500 / DAILY REPORT : Japan's Matsuda Discovers Success on the Other Side of Pit Row Camera

May 16, 1994|SHAV GLICK

Can you imagine TV's Paul Page or Jack Arute behind the wheel of a car in next year's Indianapolis 500?

Well, there is a precedent for it now.

Hideshi Matsuda's only experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before he became this year's first qualifier was as a pit reporter for a Japanese television station. He was here in 1992 and 1993 to follow the career of countryman Hiro Matsushita.

"I knew when I saw Indianapolis, it was what I wanted," Matsuda said through an interpreter. "In Japan, before Hiro, all everyone talked about was going to Europe and Formula One. I am happy I discovered Indy. This is the biggest thrill of my life."

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Before rookie driver Scott Sharp could get out of his car after his successful qualifying attempt, he was asked for his autograph.

When he looked at the paper, it was a three-year contract to drive for PacWest. The autograph seekers were Bruce McCaw, PacWest Group president, and Tom Armstrong, general manager.

"We thought it would be the most positive statement we could make of our confidence and pride in Scott," Armstrong said.

Scott's father, Bob Sharp, is a six-time Sports Car Club of America champion and was the car owner for actor Paul Newman's successful Trans-Am effort.

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Jacques Villeneuve is so tired of hearing his French-Canadian name mispronounced that he issued a news release on how to say it.

It is "VILL-nuv," not the "Vill-a-nuv" he hears so often.

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If there were an award for the best qualifying effort with the least preparation time, it would go to the versatile Stan Fox, who put Ron Hemelgarn's Reynard in the race at 222.867.

Fox, a two-time winner of the Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix at Ascot Park, had only 10 laps in the car before taking the green flag for qualifying. The car was the last one off the assembly line at Reynard's racing shop in England and did not arrive at the Speedway until the day before qualifications began.

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What is it worth during the race to win the pole? Roberto Guerrero earned $286,378 by starting from the pole in 1992, even with a crash on the parade lap that gave him a 33rd-place finish. Last year, 33rd place paid $137,203 to Danny Sullivan.

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