Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Menard Men Wield Indy's Pedal Power

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Menard Men Wield Indy's Pedal Power

Article excerpt

It's Speed Weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Some 250,000 people will flood the spacious grounds and fill the massive grandstands on Saturday, waiting eagerly to see missile-like race cars zoom around the famed 2 1/2-mile oval.

Don't blink. You may miss the Menard Men.

This year's heroes - at least for the qualifying - are expected to be Arie Luyendyk and Scott Brayton. They have been ripping off speeds in excess of 234 mph in practice, and they will be aiming to shoot down the official track record.

"The Menard team warms up with my record," said Roberto Guerrero, whose qualifying speeds in 1992 set the current Indy standard.

His marks of 232.482 mph for the four-lap, 10-mile qualifying run and his hot lap of 232.618 mph probably will be toppled Saturday when the qualifying for the May 28 Indy 500 begins.

There will be four days of qualifying, this weekend and next weekend, to fill the 33-car field for the 79th running of the world's most-famous auto race. Only first-day qualifiers are eligible for the pole position, which carries with it two weeks of fame and fortune. The Indy speed record lasts a little longer, but Guerrero knows his time at the top is about up.

Nothing should stand in the way of the Menard Men, not even the weather.

"I think it could rain or snow or we could have 100-degree temperature and it wouldn't matter," Guerrero said. "I think the record is pretty much gone."

So what is this menacing new machine that thus far is outdoing the usual front-runners at Indy?

Car owner John Menard, who owns a Wisconsin home-improvement company, has been fielding an IndyCar team since 1979, with limited success.

He's now on the verge of having one of his cars win the pole and set the track record. Whether it's Luyendyk, the 1990 Indy 500 winner, or Brayton, whose best finish at Indy has been sixth, doesn't matter. Brayton has clocked in with a top speed of 234.656 mph and Luyendyk had a hot lap of 234.332 mph.

"This series is competitive, and I wouldn't want to sit here and say we've have this thing licked," Luyendyk said.

But they do seem to have the edge that the Penske cars had last year with that powerful Mercedes engine, which so dominated the proceedings that Speedway officials changed some rules to thwart the obvious advantage that Al Unser Jr. …

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