SWEET SECONDS; LUYENDYK WINS AGAIN - BUT IT CERTAINLY WASN'T EASY.
Arie Luyendyk liked this Indianapolis 500 victory even better than his first one. That one was faster. This one was harder.
After taking the lead on the 194th lap, he had to outlast teammate Scott Goodyear in a last-lap duel Tuesday. The Flying Dutchman won by just 0.570 seconds, the third-closest finish in Indy history.
``I'm probably more excited than I was in 1990,'' Luyendyk said. ``We had to run a lot harder through the whole race. . . . It never let up.''
Luyendyk has been a marked man all month, winning the pole and most of the practice sessions. With the reliability of his Aurora engine in doubt, he just wanted to stay near the front, have an easy race and save his engine for the last laps.
But the other drivers weren't about to make it that easy. When he was in front, someone was on his tail. When he trailed, the leader would put on a burst of speed anytime Luyendyk got close. And then there were all the inexperienced drivers through whom he had to weave.
In 1990, Luyendyk won with an average speed of 185.981 mph - the fastest Indy 500 ever - but trailed for most of the race.
``I had to run faster all day long to stay where I was in comparison to 1990,'' he said. ``We had a competitive race out there, one of the most competitive races in years.''
And with 15 laps to go, it took all he had to stay in it. As he chased Tony Stewart out of Turn 2 into the straightaway, Luyendyk moved left. So did Stewart.
That left Luyendyk with nowhere else to go but the grass.
``I never drove through the grass at 220 mph, but Tony put me there, which I didn't really appreciate,'' he said. ``But it worked out well for me.''
Luyendyk was fourth with nine laps to go. When rookie Jeff Ward pitted on the 193rd lap for fuel, Goodyear took the lead and Luyendyk moved into second place. On the next lap, Luyendyk flew right by Goodyear.
But the race wasn't over. Goodyear caught Luyendyk when a yellow flag was waved on lap 198, and both drivers figured they'd finish under the yellow. But as they came down the front stretch, the green flag was waved from the tower atop the start-finish line.
Luyendyk stepped on the gas and quickly accelerated back up to speed. Goodyear got away much slower, and Luyendyk was on his way to Victory Lane.
``He's my teammate, but I can't give him a break,'' Luyendyk said, shaking hands with Goodyear as he came into the post-race interviews.
As tough as the day might have been, Luyendyk said an easy victory wouldn't have been nearly as gratifying. He was pumping his fists even before his car came to a stop in Victory Lane, and he revved his engine as he pulled in.
He slapped hands with his crew as he climbed out of his car, then grabbed his wife, Mieke, in a hug. He gulped some milk and passed the bottle to his crew.
``If this had been a war of attrition, it would have been like, `Oh well,' '' he said. ``We had to race hard all day. . . . I had to fight for it pretty hard today.''
Also ran: Brothers Robbie and Mike Groff, formerly of Northridge, finished ninth and 12th, respectively. Sam Schmidt, a former Sylmar resident, finished 34th.
Rick Mears, 1979, 1984, 1988, 1991
Al Unser Sr., 1970, 1971, 1978, 1987
A.J. Foyt, 1961, 1964, 1967, 1977
Bobby Unser, 1968, 1975, 1981
Johnny Rutherford, 1974, 1976, 1980
Mauri Rose, 1941, 1947, 1948
Wilbur Shaw, 1937, 1939, 1940
Louis Meyer, 1928, 1933, 1936
Arie Luyendyk, 1990, 1997
Al Unser Jr., 1992, 1994
Emerson Fittipaldi, 1989, 1993
Gordon Johncock, 1973, 1982
Rodger Ward, 1959, 1962
Bill Vukovich, 1953, 1954
Tommy Milton, 1921, 1923
Photo: (color) Winning the Indianapolis 500 for a second time didn't dampen Arie Luyendyk's enthusiasm. Here, he waves to the crowd.
D. Todd Moore / Indianapolis Star-News
Box: MULTIPLE WINNERS (see text)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||May 28, 1997|
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