Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day Means Indy

Growing up, Memorial Day weekend always meant the Indy 500 would be on TV. I was able to return to that traditional today. Living in Indiana the past 4 years meant the 500 was blacked out on television.

As a media scholar, I am always interested when a television event becomes a major focus. The Indy is just that. Today's race was a great one. We almost saw Michael Andretti finally win a 500. But he was passed by his 19-year-old son, Marco, with three laps to go.

Today's was the second closest Indy 500 in history, and Sam Hornish Jr. nipped rookie Marco Andretti at the line to win his first Indy 500.

NASCAR has passed open-wheeled racing in popularity, but it will never equal the Indianapolis 500. The sloppy fender rubbing seen in NASCAR might get you killed in an open-wheeled car. There is no question that the best marketers work for NASCAR, but the best drivers drive in the IRL.

My congratulations to Danica Patrick, who finished 8th today. Although I never heard mention of it in the ABC broadcast today, Patrick fell victim to a big gamble by Team Rahal. Bobby Rahal made a big gamble on the Panoz chassis for the team this year, and all of their cars have been a step behind this month in Indy (winner Hornish, second place finisher Marco Andretti, third place finisher Michael Andretti, and the fourth through seventh place cars each had a Dallara chassis). Media reports suggest that Team Rahal will switch to Dallara soon, so Danica's Top 10 finish despite her chassis is especially impressive!


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