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Las Vegas 500K

Qualifying Report

Arie Luyendyk stormed around the brand new 1 1/2 mileLas Vegas Motor Speedway at an average speed of 226.491 mph to claim pole position for the Las Vegas 500K, round two of the 1996/97 Indy Racing League.

With the run, Luyendyk, the 1990 Indianapolis 500 winner set his third track record of the 1996 calendar and beat Tony Stewart to the pole spot by 2.2 miles per hour.

Stewart, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 pole starter and Rookie of the Year, posted a run of 224.225 mph and was on pole for four minutes before Luyendyk's historic drive.

Luyendyk, a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, driving the Mi-Jack/Bryant Heating and Cooling Special Reynard 95I-Ford, had also clocked the fastest time during Friday's unofficial practice. With overcast skies, and a cool track, the Dutchman blasted his way round in an incredible time of 23.502 seconds, an amazing speed of 229.768 mph.

"I know how fast everyone had done so I knew what I had to shoot for," Luyendyk said. "We have a real good aerodynamic package on the car."

Robby Gordon, a driver heading to NASCAR in 1997, qualified third in his Valvoline Cummins Craftsman Special Reynard, with reigning Indy 500 champion Buddy Lazier fourth.

Roberto Guerrero had to qualify in his number two car after an accident in Turn 2 on Saturday morning damaged his practice and race car while Dave Steel - making his IRL debut - was forced to sit out final qualifying following a crash earlier in the day. His API Motorsports team were unable to ready the car in time for him to undertake his qualifying run.

Twenty-eight drivers qualified for the race, the largest ever IRL field outside the Indianapolis 500. Four rookies took part, the fastest being the Earl's Performance Products/Harrahs's Resorts Lola T93-50 - Menard of Tyce Carlson.

James Beckett.

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