Roberto Guerrero is officially the fastest man ever at the Indianapo
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Roberto Guerrero is officially the fastest man ever at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a distinction which has withstood every challenge since 1992.
The 36-year-old native of Colombia, who now resides in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and is a U.S. citizen, anticipates his hold on the one- and four-lap records will end Saturday when time trials for the May 28 Indianapolis 500 begin.
``I think so. Especially, looking at the weather forecast, it sounds like we’re going to have cool weather as well, and that makes a difference. Even without that, the speeds that people have been running in practice are way up there, so I think it’s going to go this time.″
Guerrero set the one-lap record of 232.618 mph and four-lap mark of 232.482 to capture the pole position for the 1992 race. But he has had nothing but frustration since then at Indianapolis, finishing 33rd in 1992 when he crashed during the parade lap and again in 1994, when he crashed on the 21st lap.
Holding the records this long wasn’t something Guerrero anticipated in a sport where car designers and engineers feverishly labor to stay one step ahead of rule makers.
``I have to say I was, yeah,″ Guerrero said when asked if he was surprised that his records were still on the books. ``Even though I was very lucky when we did it, because we had ideal conditions. It was one of those days we had rain, and we ended up going out to qualify at 5:45 p.m. and there wasn’t a single drop of wind and the temperature was like 65 or something, so it was really ideal conditions.
``But I think now the cars and engines are fast enough that even in not such ideal conditions they can still do it.″
Teammates Arie Luyendyk and Scott Brayton demonstrated that potential in their new Menard-powered Lolas. Luyendyk, the 1990 Indy winner who doesn’t have a full-time ride this year, had the fastest lap of the opening weekend at 233.281 mph on Saturday and had Sunday’s fastest trips around the 2 1/2-mile oval with three laps above 232 a few minutes after practice began. His fastest lap of the day was 232.714.
Brayton, who has the most previous Indy starts among all active drivers with 13, had a fast lap at 232.408 on Saturday and was second-fastest on Sunday at 229.492.
``There’s still a lot of things left,″ Brayton said of the consensus among drivers that the Team Menard entries are heavily favored to claim the pole as the fastest qualifiers. ``But I’m convinced that I have a fast-enough car.″
Luyendyk and Brayton arrived having completed plenty of testing at the track earlier this year and benefitting from the rules that allow their modified Buick V6 engines more boost than the turbocharged engines in most of the cars.
Defending champion Al Unser Jr. and Michael Andretti agree the Menards will have an advantage in the time trials.
``It’s just plain and simple, that’s the way it is. That Buick’s probably putting out to close to a thousand horsepower,″ Unser said. ``They’ve been testing ... over 233, 234 miles an hour. And they seem to be able to do it whenever they want. ... I really see those guys have a race between themselves on pole day, and that’s as far as it goes. ... We’ll get the Buicks on race day.″
``Unless things change drastically with the track, it’s obvious that no one is going to have a shot at the pole except him (Brayton) or Arie. It takes some of the fun away from pole day for us,″ Andretti said. ``It sort of forces us to work on a good race car and worry about the 200 laps, the ones that count.″
Luyendyk said even more speed is possible from the Menard, ``but we have to look at the comfort level of driving it as well. You can hang it out and be on the limit and almost over it, but we need to get comfortable and we need to duplicate these speeds.″
Brayton said it was way too early to get excited about the speeds.
``There are so many competitive people. Reliability has always been an issue, and I think Team Menard has tried very hard to address that,″ Brayton said. ``Last year we had one engine that finished and one engine that failed. ... I think we’ve made major improvements over the last year.″
Others who had fast laps Sunday included Scott Goodyear at 228.351, whil Raul Boesel, a front-row starter the past two years, Teo Fabi, former winner Bobby Rahal, 1994 runner-up Jacques Villeneuve, Robby Gordon and Paul Tracy all had top laps above 226 mph.
Unser, who won his second Indy 500 last year, had a top speed of 224.299. His Penske teammate, two-time winner Emerson Fittipaldi, had a top lap of 223.192.