INDIANAPOLIS, MAY 27 -- Arie Luyendyk, a Dutchman who had not won an Indy-car race since coming to this country six years ago, drove to victory in the Indianapolis 500 today, averaging a record 185.984 mph.

Luyendyk, almost an afterthought in this field of Fittipaldis, Andrettis, Unsers and Foyts despite starting from the outside of Row 1, waited patiently as all the drivers in front of him -- Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal and Al Unser Jr. -- were forced to make pit stops to change blistered right rear tires. In fact, quick adjustments by Luyendyk's crew relating to air pressure probably contributed to the victory as much as anything the 36-year-old driver did.

"This is pretty incredible, that my first Indy-car victory would be here at Indianapolis," he said. "We went to the bigger, right rear staggered tire, and that's when we closed the gap. We didn't have any hiccups all day long. . . . The tires were great all day."

Luyendyk (pronounced Ly-un-dyke) overtook a faltering Rahal on Lap 168 and steadily increased his lead, winning by 10.7 seconds over Rahal (185.778), the 1986 winner. Fittipaldi (185.185), the defending champion, finished third. Unser Jr. finished fourth and three-time champion Rick Mears was fifth. Luyendyk, depending on the final gate receipts, stands to earn in excess of $1 million when the official results and winnings are announced Monday evening.

Luyendyk's average speed of 185.984 mph not only broke Rahal's Indianapolis 500 record of 170.722 set in 1986, it is the fastest for any 500-mile Indy-car race, breaking Danny Sullivan's 180.654 in the Michigan 500 in 1988. It was the first race run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in less than three hours, Luyendyk completing 200 laps around the 2 1/2-mile oval in 2 hours 41 minutes 18.248 seconds.

Fittipaldi, the pole sitter, dominated the first half of the race. It almost was a snoozer, as the Brazilian set a race record by leading the first 92 laps, and 114 of the first 116. If not for two yellow flags -- the first 20 laps into the race because Sullivan had a right rear wheel bearing malfunction that caused his car to crash -- Fittipaldi might have run away from the field.

Both yellow flags allowed Rahal to get within two seconds of Fittipaldi, but after a lap or two under green-flag conditions, the lead returned to at least six seconds.

As it was, Fittipaldi was 21 seconds ahead of Rahal after 105 laps, and looked to be a good bet to become the first repeat winner here in 19 years and only the fifth ever. But his problems began on Lap 117, when one of his crew members spotted a tire problem on a TV monitor.

The right rear tire had blistered. Fittipaldi was scheduled to make a stop on 118 anyway, so pitting one lap early with a sizable lead didn't hurt much. But the replacement tire blistered, forcing him to stop on Lap 135. A third right rear tire peeled, forcing another stop on Lap 152.

Three pit stops in 35 laps alone didn't ruin Fittipaldi's chance of becoming the first foreign driver to repeat; the fact that the second stop came under a green flag, while Rahal and Luyendyk waited to stop under a yellow flag, did. Fittipaldi's car never ran as fast again until he went back to a pair of tires he used during qualifying.

He took the philosophical approach, even though part of him felt like crashing a fist through a wall. "The Lady in Red {his Chevrolet} was beautiful today, really beautiful. She just needed a different pair of shoes," he said.

Asked what happened to his right rear tires, Fittipaldi said: "I don't know, you'll have to ask Goodyear. The car was beautiful. It was so good handling, so well-balanced. It was good through traffic. The car was as good as it was last year. I was so pleased. I was steady and smooth. The pit crew was quick, there was no hesitation. It could have been my day. The tire problem was a big surprise, a bad surprise."

Goodyear executive Leo Mehl blamed the drivers' crews for the blistering problem. "Over the years," he said in a quickly issued statement, "the teams have learned that the quick way around this speedway is to run the car loose. One trick that helps them do that is to overinflate the right rear tire, which causes the tread to 'crown' a bit in the middle of the tire.

"This strategy, combined with the hottest day we have had this month {75 degrees and sunny} and a record pace, led to overheating the right rear tire and blistering along the center line of the tread."

Mehl said every blistered tire Goodyear looked at had been inflated beyond the recommended pressure. Unser Jr.'s engineer, Alan Mertens, admitted as much, saying: "We blistered four sets of right rear tires during the race. . . . We finally lowered the tire pressure and that helped."

Unser Jr., who ran second for a while, added, "It was an expensive lesson, but we learned."

It was a pretty good day for racing, which came as a relief to the drivers, whose three weeks here constantly were interrupted by rain. More than 400,000 people attended -- including Vice President Dan Quayle, a native Hoosier -- although officials don't offer an exact figure. The largest single-event sports crowd anywhere in the world saw a clean race, with only one real accident, Sullivan's slide out of Turn 4 into a wall. He suffered some dizziness but was fine, as was Pancho Carter, whose Lola kissed the wall 59 laps into the race.

Several well-known drivers were forced out early: Sullivan (19 laps), Gary Bettenhausen (39 laps, wheel bearing), 1983 winner Tom Sneva (48 laps, constant velocity joint), 1969 winner Mario Andretti (60 laps, failed engine), Tony Bettenhausen (76 laps, failed engine), Roberto Guerrero (119 laps, right rear suspension) and Michael Andretti (146 laps, severe vibration).

In all, 15 drivers finished while running, including three-time champion Mears (fifth), four-time champion A.J. Foyt (sixth), rookie Eddie Cheever (seventh), four-time champion Al Unser Sr. (13th) and Scott Brayton, who started 26th but finished an impressive eighth.

While many of the celebrated drivers dropped out, Luyendyk held his position. He kept seeing Fittipaldi expand his lead, and said he thought at one point that "Emmo looks so good and he's running so strong." He said his "car was not great all day long in traffic; it was reasonable. I just wanted to be patient. At one point we were down to four cars in the lead lap {Fittipaldi's, Rahal's, Under Jr.'s and his}, and I figured if I'm fourth, then fine."

Luyendyk's biggest problem occurred midway through when his earplugs fell out. "I'm a little deaf," he said. "I couldn't hear your question."

Luyendyk saw Fittipaldi's three quick pit stops and said he figured "Emmo's finished for the day, as far as winning the race." It was obvious Unser Jr. was having several problems, as was Rahal, who said he didn't know the Dutchman was sneaking up behind him.

"I had a few open laps while Bobby had traffic," Luyendyk explained. "He was just kind of surprised I made up six seconds or so in a few laps."

He patiently plotted passing Rahal for a lap or two, then made a marvelous outside-inside move to take the lead. If a driver can execute a head fake at 168 mph, then that's what Luyendyk did. He looked to loop outside, catching Rahal's attention, then slipped inside, nearly trimming the infield grass in doing so.

He took a last pit stop on Lap 173, taking a chance he could hold off Rahal, who had pitted two laps earlier. The gamble paid off, as did a move to avoid an accident with Fittipaldi about Lap 190. "As my fuel went down and I started to pull away from" Rahal, Luyendyk said, "I knew I could do fast laps, but not push it too hard."

Pos......Driver..............Laps......MPH

1........Arie Luyendyk.......200.......185.984

2........Bobby Rahal.........200.......185.778

3........E. Fittipaldi.......200.......185.185

4........Al Unser Jr.........199.......Running

5........Rick Mears..........198.......Running

6........A.J. Foyt...........194.......Running

7........Eddie Cheever.......194.......Running

8........Scott Brayton.......194.......Running

9........Kevin Cogan.........191.......Running

10.......Scott Goodyear......191.......Running

11.......Didier Theys........190.......Running

12.......Tero Palmroth.......188.......Running

13.......Al Unser............186.......Running

14.......Randy Lewis.........185.......Running

15.......Jim Crawford........183.......Running

Official standings to be posted Monday.

Driver................Speed............Year

Arie Luyendyk*........185.984..........1990

Bobby Rahal...........185.778..........1990

Emerson Fittipaldi....185.185..........1990

Bobby Rahal*..........170.722..........1986

Kevin Cogan...........170.698..........1986

Rick Mears............170.691..........1986 * Race winner

OFFICIAL STANDINGS TO BE POSTED MONDAY BY U.S. AUTO CLUB

Pos.Start..Driver.............Car..Chassis-Engine....Laps...Speed/Out

1...(3)..Arie Luyendyk......30...1990 Lola-Chevy.......200...185.984 mph

2...(4)..Bobby Rahal........18...1990 Lola-Chevy.......200...185.778

3...(1)..Emerson Fittipaldi..1...1990 Penske-Chevy.....200...185.185

4...(7)..Al Unser Jr.........5...1990 Lola-Chevy.......199...Running

5...(2)..Rick Mears..........2...1990 Penske-Chevy.....198...Running

6...(8)..A.J. Foyt..........14...1990 Lola-Chevy.......194...Running

7..(14)..Eddie Cheever*.....25...1989 Penske-Chevy.....194...Running

8..(26)..Scott Brayton......22...1990 Lola-Cosworth....194...Running

9..(15)..Kevin Cogan........11...1989 Penske-Buick.....191...Running

10.(21)..Scott Goodyear*....28...1989 Lola-Judd........191...Running

11.(20)..Didier Theys.......70...1989 Penske-Buick.....190...Running

12.(16)..Tero Palmroth......23...1989 Lola-Cosworth....188...Running

13.(30)..Al Unser Sr........40...1990 March-Alfa Romeo.186...Running

14.(12)..Randy Lewis........12...1988 Penske-Buick.....185...Running

15.(29)..Jim Crawford.......15...1989 Lola-Buick.......183...Running

16.(32)..John Paul Jr.......93...1989 Lola-Buick.......176...Radiator

17.(24)..Dean Hall*.........39...1990 Lola-Cosworth....164...Suspension

18.(23)..TeoFabi.............4...1990 March-Porsche....162...Transmission

19.(19)..Geoff Brabham......21...1989 Lola-Judd........161...Running

20..(5)..Michael Andretti....3...1990 Lola-Chevy.......146...Vibration

21.(10)..John Andretti......41...1990 March-Porsche....135...Spin

22.(11)..Dominic Dobson.....86...1990 Lola-Cosworth....130...Engine

23.(28)..Roberto Guerrero...20...1990 March-Alfa Romeo.119...Suspension

24.(31)..Bill Vukovich III..81...1988 Lola-Buick.......102...Engine

25.(33)..Rocky Moran........56...1989 Lola-Buick........88...Engine

26.(13)..Tony Bettenhausen..16...1989 Lola-Buick........76...Engine

27..(6)..Mario Andretti......6...1990 Lola-Chevy........60...Engine

28.(17)..Raul Boesel........19...1989 Lola-Judd.........60...Engine

29.(22)..Pancho Carter......29...1990 Lola-Cosworth.....59...Crash

30.(25)..Tom Sneva...........9...1989 Penske-Buick......48...CV joint

31.(18)..Gary Bettenhausen..51...1989 Lola-Buick........39...Wheel bearing

32..(9)..Danny Sullivan......7...1990 Penske-Chevy......19...Crash

33.(27)..Stan Fox...........97...1987 Lola-Buick........10...Gear box

Margin of Victory: 10.7 seconds. *Rookie.