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From the Motor Sport Archive
Four races into the 1988 Indycar season, Penske chassis and Chevrolet engines had proved the dominating force, and Rick Mears led the championship after successive victories on the oval speedways of Indianapolis and Milwaukee. Davie Hayhoe travelled to Oregon on June 19 to watch Mears’ team-mate Danny Sullivan complete a Penske hat-trick in front of a record crowd at Portland International Raceway.
The sixteen-race CART series is held on a variety of circuits, ranging from the superspeedways such as Indianapolis, through short ovals to road courses and temporary street circuits. The 1.9 mile, nine-turn Portland road circuit, built on the site of a city which was submerged in a flood forty years ago, has hosted an Indycar round for the past five years.
Track conditions were almost perfect for the first qualifying session and it was Danny Sullivan who posted the fastest time of the day with five minutes remaining, establishing a new lap record at 116.685 mph. His Penske team-mate Rick Mears, keen to win his third race in a row and prove he is just as good on non-oval circuits, set second fastest lap just 0.2 seconds slower, but then had his time disallowed when his rear wing was discovered to be set back ¼in beyond the limit.
Since the final qualifying sessions are held in two parts, with the slowest from the first day going first, this was where Mears found himself, along with the ever-improving Dutchman Arie Luyendyk, hungry for his maiden victory, whose Lola had suffered clutch problems the day before. The top five in this first session were Luyendyk (118.636 mph), Mears, John Jones, Scott Brayton and Tero Palmroth. In the group two qualifying, Danny Sullivan put in a 118.687 mph lap, fastest of the weekend to date, to vault ahead of Arie and claim his seventh Indycar pole position.