Saturday, May 9, 2009

On the pole

It’s Pole Day at Indianapolis! But, wait a second. When did the Indy Car Series start? I thought the unification of CART and IRL was supposed to bring more publicity to the sport, but apparently those hopes were dashed once ESPN/ABC dropped the series schedule. Unfortunately for Indy Car, the series was forced to go to the network where all good sports go to die: Versus.

Fifteen years ago, this day actually meant something. But since the open-wheel split in 1996, it really hasn’t held any importance besides a little symbolic nostalgia. Remember when Al Unser Jr., the 1994 Indy 500 champion, missed out the following years race because his Penske car didn’t have the speed? Still, I love the unique qualifying process with four-lap averages and car owners standing on pit lane with green and yellow flags waiting to wave-off a slow run. Let’s hope Pole Day and the subsequent qualifying and bump days rev up the excitement on this Indy Car season.

I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll definitely be watching the Indy 500 in two weeks.

UPDATE: 4:22 p.m. - Working in the office this evening and have the qualifying broadcast running in the background. Hearing the cars roar around the track - along with the humming of the police scanner - is soothing while I punch out a few police items. As I speak, Helio Castroneves just took the pole with an average of 224.864 mph. Only 12 cars have qualified, but it's a long way from the federal tax evasion trial he faced earlier this year. Good for Helio.

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