Front row is filled with accomplishment Indy 500 notebook

May 24, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

INDIANAPOLIS -- The front row for the Indianapolis 500 is a dream team.

Rick Mears, three 500 victories, six Indy pole position starts . . . A.J. Foyt, four 500 victories, four poles . . . Mario Andretti, one 500 victory, three poles.

When Mears was asked yesterday after the final shakedown of his car if he is planning to move over and allow Foyt to lead the first lap, he quipped: "If I move over, it'll be to block." Then he added, "But starting next to A.J. in his last race is very special."

Foyt underwent his provisional checkup at the Speedway Medical Center yesterday and was cleared to drive Sunday.

* Of all the luck. Willy T. Ribbs finally gets to drive a race car at Indy and then finds out golf is what really counts.

Ribbs was to be a celebrity player in Tuesday's golf outing at the Speedway Golf Course. But he doesn't play golf, so he didn't participate. That meant Ribbs couldn't collect the Rolex watch given to the celebrity on the winning team -- which turned out to be his team.

The watch, worth an estimated $5,000, went to the celebrity on the second-place team, longtime USAC racer Ralph Liguori.

* Kevin Cogan registered the fast lap in the final practice session yesterday, 223.892. Next fastest was defending champion Arie Luyendyk, 222.756, and Emerson Fittipaldi, 222.557.

* Mario, John and Michael Andretti were sixth, seventh and eighth fastest, respectively at 219.748, 219.336 and 218.994. The rookie on the family tree, Jeff, was 18th, 209.429.

In other Andretti news, Formula One team McLaren has signed Michael to a testing contract with the possible intent of adding him for 1992. McLaren currently employs Aryton Senna and Gerhard Berger and has won three consecutive world championships. Senna is on his way to No. 4.

* Danny Sullivan and his Patrick racing team captured the 15th annual Miller Genuine Draft Pit Stop Championship yesterday and collect

ed the $25,000 first prize. Sullivan is also sponsored by Miller.

* Bobby Rahal's Galles-KRACO team earned $15,000 for second, while Foyt's Copenhagen crew and Mario Andretti's Newman-Haas team each won $5,000 for being semifinalists.

* Al Unser Jr. is one of the favorites for Sunday's race and he thinks a lot of drivers in this year's event have a better-than-average chance.

"I think it is more realistic to think that way," Unser said. "The Penske team doesn't have the advantage they've had in past years. The Penske advantage is smaller. The important thing is the guys that are putting the cars together. The talent of the driver has always been there, but the consistency in the shop hasn't always been there. I think my guys are the best in the business."

Luyendyk, the defending champ, also is voicing confidence.

"I have more confidence because of last season's win," he said. "Winning this race, though, was a bit of an upset. As the season progressed, we couldn't keep up with the bigger teams and I think it hurt us. I think I am more ready this time."

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