Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's Race Day at the Brickyard!

Dawn was gorgeous over Turn 3 at Indy for the 2011 Brickyard 400
I'm set up in the media center this morning and ready for racing! David Ragan is the surprise pole winner for the 18th Brickyard 400 and most people seem to think the winner must start in the top 10 to have a chance since the track is notoriously hard to pass on for the Sprint Cup cars. Tire and pit management will be all important, and someone will make the right call late in the day to catapault to Victory Lane. Indy's long straightaways and relatively flat corners have historically not allowed for much side by side racing in the turns during the Brickyard, but I am hoping this year will be different. My personal choices for today's win are Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya, although if Mark Martin were to break through to win, it wouldn't break my heart.

Indy's Pagoda Tower

The biggest story today may be the crowd (or lack of one) as advance ticket sales are said to be struggling to hit the 100,000 mark. In a place as big as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the stands can hold roughly 250,000 people, it may look strange with so much aluminum visible. I just hope I have good backgrounds for my shots in Turn 3. That could be a challenge.

Grand Am Champ Scott Pruett

Pruett's Telmex Grand Am ride

To combat the attendance drop, IMS is bringing the Rolex Grand Am series to the Brickyard weekend in 2012 to run for three hours on the road course. Scott Pruett is here this morning with his Target Ganassi Telmex car to sign autographs and promote what the Speedway is calling the "Super Weekend" which will also include races for the Continental Tire and Nationwide series. That should make things much more interesting as lack of time on the track is a real issue here in my opinion, especially since there are no support races for the main event. That should change next year and I hope it brings in a whole new bunch of fans who come for the sports cars and stay for the stock car racing. This is all quite a contrast to the last NASCAR race I shot at Kentucky Speedway earlier in July, where the place was sold out and traffic was lined up for hours trying to get in. In all fairness, that was an inaugural race and Kentucky only has 107,000 seats, so it's probably not a fair comparison. It may, however, have had an effect on Indy's ticket sales due to close proximity and placement on the calendar.

We'll see how the day pans out but it is already hot and there's no clouds anywhere, so the track will be greasy and slick by the time the race starts shortly after 1 o'clock today. More later!

Plymouth Superbirds in the infield at Indy

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