INDIANAPOLIS -- Arie Luyendyk, the lone former winner among the entrants for the 80th Indianapolis 500, vaulted to the role of favorite yesterday when he turned in three consecutive laps in excess of 237 mph, including a final go-round of 237.774, the fastest practice lap in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history.
"Everybody is saying I'm the favorite," Luyendyk said after his impressive gallop in his backup car, a 1995 Reynard powered by a Ford-Cosworth engine. "I guess I'll just have to go along with them on that."
Luyendyk's three-lap scorcher -- which began with a hot lap of 237.505 and was followed by a 237.712 before concluding with his record lap -- imperiled the bid of owner John Menard to place three of his four cars (piloted by defending pole sitter Scott Brayton, Eddie Cheever, Mark Dismore and rookie Tony Stewart) on the front row in tomorrow's time trials.
Luyendyk's lap bettered the 237.336-mph lap Stewart recorded Monday afternoon, just hours after the rookie passed his orientation test.
"You don't want to read anything into the backup," said Luyendyk, who drove for Team Menard in last year's Indy 500 and finished seventh after starting on the outside pole position. "But we will probably use it [for time trials] because it's a tenth faster. It's a definite possibility we'll use that one as our primary car."
Pub Date: 5/10/96