Luyendyk Second to Brayton for Second Straight Year
May. 11, 1996
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Once again, Arie Luyendyk was second to Scott Brayton.
Barely 10 minutes after Luyendyk, the 1990 Indianapolis 500 winner, qualified at a record speed for what would have been the pole position in the May 26 race, Brayton withdrew his already-qualified car and rejoined the field at an even faster speed.
Brayton's four-lap average of 233.718 mph Saturday in a backup car for rookie teammate Tony Stewart demoted Luyendyk's 233.390 to second place among the 21 cars in the tentative lineup. The final 12 spots will be filled on Sunday and next weekend.
Earlier, Brayton qualified at 231.535, which would have put him sixth on the tentative grid.
Last year, Luyendyk also qualified early for a claim to the pole, only to have Brayton _ who then was his Team Menard teammate _ beat him out for the inside front-row position.
``It was an agonizing day,'' said Luyendyk, who had to wait to qualify his backup car after his primary was damaged.
``I had given up on the pole position, although when I looked at the other drivers, Team Menard, and the times they were doing, I had hoped,'' he said. ``But this car really was my backup car, and it wasn't as good as the primary car, but we couldn't use the primary car because we had two engine problems with that car today.''
Luyendyk set an unofficial track record with a lap of more than 239 in his primary Reynard-Ford during practice on Friday. But in practice before qualifications Saturday morning, Luyendyk narrowly missed a wheel from Johnny Parsons' car, which crashed in the third turned.
``It's quite possible the engine swallowed something that was flying off the track,'' he said. ``I got a wake-up call by missing this tire that was flying around by just a few inches. It got my attention.
``But then, of course, we had all these problems with the engines, which is not normal because the (Ford) Cosworth engines are just great engines.
``I'm not sure what happened with the second engine,'' Luyendyk said. ``But this (backup) car ran good. It handled good, but I still felt it was binding up in the corners too much, a lot more compared to the other car.''
Luyendyk, who won the pole and finished second in the race in 1993, wound up seventh after starting next to Brayton last year.
``Right here in Indianapolis is great to be here,'' he said, referring to the renegade U.S. 500 at Michigan International Speedway on the same day as the Indy 500. ``I'd rather be here than anywhere in America right now.
``This is the 12th year I'm here. I don't know how many more years I'm coming back, but it will be a few more.''