At 47 years old, Mario Andretti certainly has not lost the touch which won him the Grand Prix World Championship nine years ago for Lotus!
At the wheel of his Newman-Haas Lola, powered by an Ilmor-Chevrolet engine, he captured his first pole position for the Indianapolis 500 in 20 years with an average speed of just over 215 mph. The Memorial Day classic will see Bobby Rahal and Rick Mears starting from the front row alongside Andretti, with veteran AJ Foyt in fourth place on the grid on his 30th consecutive Indy 500 start.
Andretti, who earlier this year became a grandfather, dominated the first week of practice, topping the timesheets on five of the seven days and posting a fastest individual lap speed of 218.234 mph. His record speeds aside, the principal focus of attention was the disappointing form produced by the Penske PC16s of Danny Sullivan and Danny Ongais, neither managing to get close to team-mate Mears’ front running times with their Ilmor Chevy-engined cars. Missing from the field was Scot Jim Crawford who crashed heavily in his March-Buick, suffering serious leg, knee and ankle fractures. All of the new March 87C cars suffered a worrying handling imbalance on the fast corners, Tom Sneva, Kevin Cogan and Pancho Carter all crashing their cars quite heavily.