BROOKLYN, Mich. -- An all-out, hold-the-pedal-to-the-floor speed show is the forecast for today's IndyCar race on Michigan International Speedway's two-mile, high-banked oval.
"The days of strategy in a 500-mile race are long gone," said record-setting pole-winner Mario Andretti. "If you hesitate, you wind up watching everybody else race ahead of you."
Because Mario and son Michael qualified at more than 230 mph while 11 others were faster than 220 in trials for the 250-lap race, it would appear the all-time 500-mile race record of 189.727, set in 1990 by Al Unser Jr., is in jeopardy.
"I think we should be able to race at between 222 and 224," Andretti said. "If the race stays clean, well, the speeds could be real high."
Right behind at the start will be Eddie Cheever and Arie Luyendyk, teammates, as are the Andrettis. The top four drivers are all in 1992 Lolas powered by the new Ford Cosworth XB engines, which have yet to win a 500-mile event.
But it isn't engine reliability that is worrying the top drivers. It's the rough racetrack, made bumpier every year by the Michigan winters.
"The engine is the least of my concerns," Mario Andretti said. "The biggest concern is the chassis staying together, enduring all the bumps for 500 miles. The car is taking quite a beating, especially in [turns] 3 and 4."
Michael Andretti, who trails series leader Bobby Rahal by 34 points in the season standings, has become known for sensational starts. Cheever and Luyendyk, both hungry for victory, are likely to put pressure on the elder Andretti at the start.