Mears Fastest in Final Indy Practice

From Associated Press

Rick Mears got back to the head of the pack today as the 33 drivers in the Indianapolis 500 made their final on-track adjustments for Sunday’s race.

The three-time Indy winner, who lost the spotlight this month to defending champion and teammate Emerson Fittipaldi and last year’s second-place finisher, Al Unser Jr., drove his Penske-Chevrolet to a fast lap of 222.750 m.p.h. in racing trim.

Fittipaldi--who won his first Indy pole with a four-lap qualifying average of 225.301, breaking Mears’ year-old record of 223.886--was right behind at 221.593. The Brazilian driver was followed by Michael Andretti at 220.496.

Arie Luyendyk of the Netherlands, the other front-row starter, was next at 220.135.


The only other driver over 220 m.p.h. was 1969 winner Mario Andretti, Michael’s father and fellow second-row starter, at 220.097. Geoff Brabham, who will start on the inside of the seventh row, was strong at 219.855, with Unser at 219.593.

All starters, along with first alternate Salt Walther, made it onto the 2 1/2-mile oval during the two-hour “Carburetion Day” practice--the only time between the end of qualifications and the start of the race that cars are allowed on the track.

There were no crashes or spins during the final practice.