19 May 2011

The Greatest 33: No. 10 - Arie Luyendyk

With 10 days remaining until the 100th Anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500, Drive Hard, Turn Left & SB Nation Indiana is continuing its countdown of the Greatest 33, the ultimate Indianapolis 500 field. Through a fan vote, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has released its field, which can be seen here.  Today, Drive Hard, Turn Left & SB Nation Indiana looks at the only driver to capture the Borg-Warner Trophy in both the CART and IRL eras.
Upon his arrival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1985, Arie Luyendyk was fast.  Winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1985, Luyendyk would go on to set the major speed records at IMS during his 17 start career.
With sponsorship from Provimi veal, Luyendyk was able to hang on during his first five years running in CART.  Though he never won a race in that span, the Dutchman was routinely quick at Indianapolis, taking seventh in his first year at the track after coming over from the road circuits of Europe.  With qualification efforts in the top three rows in two of the next three years, it was clear that Luyendyk had taken to IMS, but results were not forthcoming.
However, that changed in 1990, when Luyendyk, in his Domino's Pizza No. 30, passed Bobby Rahal on Lap 168 and took his first career win at Indianapolis.  With temperatures climbing throughout the race and just four cautions on the day (for 28 laps), tire wear was a persistent issue for drivers.  Luyendyk was able to nurse his throughout the day, and in the process set a new record for the average speed of the race, running at 185.981 mph.  The record stands to this day as the fastest 500 in the books.
Backing up the accomplishment with a third-place finish the following year, Luyendyk would be on the pole for the 1993 500, nearly taking Chip Ganassi to Victory Lane for the first time in the owner's time at Indianapolis, leading 14 laps while finishing runner-up to Emerson Fittipaldi.  The year would be Luyendyk's last with Ganassi and be part of a four-year stretch in which he ran for four different teams, finally settling with Treadway Racing in 1996.
In his first year with Treadway, Luyendyk looked to have the fastest car at Indy, backing it up on Pole Day by setting the one lap (234.742) and four-lap (233.390 mph) speed records.  Beaten for the pole later in the day, Luyendyk's car would fail inspection, setting the stage for the Dutchman to return the next day and obliterate the previous marks. 
Returning on Sunday, Luyendyk set new one-lap records on each of his four qualifying laps, going 236.239, 236.948, 237.260 and 237.498 mph, setting IMS's four-lap qualifying record at 236.986 mph.  With the fastest car in the field, Luyendyk was picking his through traffic when a pit road incident knocked him out of the race.
A year later, Luyendyk would again have the top qualifying speed at Indianapolis, but would this time sit on the pole for the second of three times in his career.  Leading 61 laps, it would be the final two led by Luyendyk that caused controversy in 1997, as the field approached the start/finish line under yellow, only to have the flag stand wave the green and white flags at the last minute, with yellow lights still on the catch fence.  Luyendyk hastily dropped into gear and pulled away for the win, but the confusion at the end marked the end of USAC's tenure at IMS.
Luyendyk would qualify on the pole once more, in 1999, but an accident marked the end of his run.  Four years later, a wreck in practice would keep him from a final run at IMS, where he led in eight of his 17 starts and led 188 laps in his career.
The Greatest 33:Row 4
10. Arie Luyendyk
11. Louis Meyer
12. Mario Andretti
Row 5
13. Dario Franchitti14. Emerson Fittipaldi15. Parnelli JonesRow 616. Rodger Ward17. Al Unser Jr.18. Jim ClarkRow 719. Gordon Johncock20. Jim Rathmann22. Tommy MiltonRow 822. Ralph DePalma23. Scott Dixon24. Juan Pablo MontoyaRow 925. Billy Arnold26. Bill Holland27. Dan WheldonRow 1028. Ray Harroun29. Mark Donohue30. Jacques VilleneuveRow 1131. Danny Sullivan32. Tony Kanaan33. Michael Andretti

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