Luyendyk not cleared to drive at Indy 500; replacement driver to be named for ...
Luyendyk not cleared to drive at Indy 500; replacement driver to be named for #20 Meijer entry.
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 14, 2003) -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk has been re-examined by the IRL IndyCar Series medical staff this morning and has not been cleared to drive in this year's 87th Indy 500. Luyendyk will give way to a replacement driver yet to be named for his #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force entry.
Luyendyk made heavy contact with the Turn 1 wall during practice Friday afternoon and suffered injuries to his upper back. He opted not to participate in Sunday's rain-delayed Pole Day qualifications session, planning instead to make his attempt to qualify the Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing car for his 18th career Indy 500 this Sunday, Bump Day.
"I just haven't felt right since the accident and thought it would be best to have the doctor give me another look before deciding whether or not to continue driving," Luyendyk said. "I told Dr. (Henry) Bock that I didn't think I was ready to get back into the car, and after a rather detailed examination, he agreed. Rather than ask the team to give me a few more days to recuperate, I think the best thing to do at this point is to step aside and keep the Meijer program moving forward with a replacement driver."
Team owner Morris Nunn said a replacement driver will be named shortly.
"Obviously, our concern, first and foremost, is Arie's health and well-being," said Nunn, who's three-car entry at the Speedway this month includes full-time IRL IndyCar Series competitors Tora Takagi and Felipe Giaffone, who qualified seventh and 16th, respectively, last Sunday. "Arie's just not 100 percent, yet, after the accident on Friday. And even though he wants more than anything to drive the Meijer car for his sponsors and his fans, you can't force these things if your body is just not right. He'll be fine, hopefully sooner than later. But in the meantime, we will field a Meijer car with the absolute best driver available."
Luyendyk scored Indy 500 victories in 1990 and 1997, and sat on the pole here in 1993, 1997 and 1999. This was his first Indy 500 effort with Mo Nunn Racing, although he has collaborated in the past with Nunn, who engineered his 1993 pole qualifying effort and second-place finish while the two were at Ganassi Racing, as well as his third-place finish for Granatelli Racing in 1991.
Luyendyk will continue to oversee his son Arie, Jr.'s Infiniti Pro Series effort at this weekend's inaugural Freedom 100 on Saturday.