INDIANAPOLIS, May 14 - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk took himself out of the car Wednesday and will not race in the "500" this year. After a crash last Friday, Luyendyk was cleared on Saturday to drive, but ran only a few laps...
INDIANAPOLIS, May 14 - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk took himself out of the car Wednesday and will not race in the "500" this year.
After a crash last Friday, Luyendyk was cleared on Saturday to drive, but ran only a few laps in practice on Sunday.
"I noticed I wasn't as coherent as I should be," he said Wednesday in announcing his decision. "I got back in touch with (Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of medical services) Dr. Henry Bock and told him how I felt, and we concluded it wasn't in my best interest to race because I don't think I can function the way I should in a race car."
Luyendyk said he knew over the weekend that something wasn't right and that he shouldn't be driving.
"I didn't have any desire to be in a race car the way I feel," he said. "I'm not sharp, things seem fuzzy, and all I want to do is sleep. I've been nodding off a lot."
Luyendyk declined to say he was retiring from racing, saying only, "I'm not looking a year down the road."
Car owner Mo Nunn announced that Alex Barron would replace Luyendyk in the Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota.
Rookie Buddy Rice, already qualified for the "500," and veteran Billy Boat, who, like Luyendyk, crashed late last week, saw considerable practice action Wednesday.
I'm still a little sore, but I feel good," said Boat, who was cleared this morning to return to the car. "The team got me right back up to speed."
Although not yet in the field, Boat said the focus Wednesday was on the race.
"We're really focused on our race set up; we're doing full-tank runs right now," he said during a mid-afternoon break. "We're trying to get some laps in, do some durability tests, and be ready to go for the race. When we get a little closer to Sunday, we'll put more of a qualifying setup on it and see what we have."
Boat's Pedigo Chevrolet Dallara/Chevrolet backup car was third fastest among unqualified cars with a lap at 222.251 on a busy day that saw him log 103 laps in the car. "We're still working to get it exactly like I would like to have it," he said. "We'll just keep plugging away at it and make changes until we get it right."
Rice also put in a full day, running 82 laps in the Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet.
"We started at 11 this morning and we were still working when the track closed (at 6 p.m.)," Rice said. "Today was the first day the car was in race trim all month, and we tried to tune the car around that. We ran some full-tank segments as well."
Rice said the team had concentrated all last week on getting the car qualified solidly in the field.
"Now we're going to focus on our race trim, so there is a lot to be done," he said. "We have a lot of direction (regarding race setup), so we're just going to make sure we have the best possible car come Race Day."
Jimmy Vasser was the fastest of the three unqualified drivers in practice Wednesday. He ran a lap at 225.956 in the Argent Rahal/Letterman Racing Dallara/Honda, followed by Shigeaki Hattori in the EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota at 222.856, and Boat.
Practice will continue through Saturday with the final "Bump Day" qualifying set for Sunday. "Carb Day" practice is Thursday, May 22, with the "500" to be aired live by ABC on Sunday, May 25.