Flying Dutchman Flies Again

The last time Arie Luyendyk was in a race car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he ended up against the wall in Turn 3 after losing control of his G Force while leading the Indianapolis 500 in 1999.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 47-year-old two-time Indy 500 winner began his quest for another Indy victory after almost two years away from the 2.5-mile oval in Speedway, Ind. More important, Luyendyk regained his confidence.

"I went out there like I've never been away," said Luyendyk, who turned in a top speed of 220.6 mph in the Treadway-Hubbard Racing No. 5 G Force-Aurora on Wednesday and followed that up with a 222.4 mph on Thursday. "I was looking forward to it. I'm kind of stoked to be back.

"As far as the race track, it's pretty much the same as two years ago. It's really easy to come back with the guys at Treadway Racing I worked with two years ago and it's also easy for them."

Luyendyk has driven for car owner Fred Treadway in four Indy 500s. The partnership has produced two poles (1996, 1999) and one win (1997). On Wednesday, Treadway team manager Skip Faul saw the same Luyendyk that has led 187 laps in 15 appearances in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

"The layoff hasn’t seemed to hurt him a bit," Faul said. "He definitely still has it. He was at 219.2 mph on his sixth hard lap. That’s pretty impressive."

Impressive? Maybe, but Luyendyk knows he can do better.

"We picked up right where we left off," Luyendyk said. "The G-Force is in a position to go faster, so I'm very comfortable.

"I had to contain myself to not go too fast too soon. That's a good sign. It's a brand-new car. I went up to 208 mph right away, but I didn't want to really lean on it until the crew looked it over.

"We're taking one step at a time, then we’ll start taking it to the next level."

Luyendyk completed 72 laps in a private test that also included Kelley Racing teammates Mark Dismore and Scott Sharp; Team Menard’s Greg Ray, the 2000 pole winner; and Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Davey Hamilton.

All eyes were on Luyendyk, though, and he didn’t disappoint. After turning in one of the fastest laps of any driver this year at IMS, the native of Sommelsdyk, Holland, had another surprise in store.

"To me, this is not going to be my final 500," he said. "I'm keeping my options open to run a couple more years. As long as I want to do it, I'm going to do it."

Who’s going to argue with that?

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Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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