(WOMR file photo)
As we enter the last weekend in May, the traditional start of summer, we will be feasting upon the greatest racing day of the year!
The Greatest Spectacle In Racing
The morning starts out with “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing”, the Indianapolis 500, from the hallowed grounds known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This year there appears to be about 10 -12 drivers that have a legitimate shot at drinking the milk in Victory Lane.
Check out the starting line up for Sunday’s 97th running of the Indy 500.
You will notice that Team Penske has put all three of their drivers in the first two starting rows, as well as three of the four Andretti Autosport drivers! On the pole is Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe. The next two drivers to fill out the front row comes from the Andretti Autosport stables, that being the new Godaddy.com driver from Toronto, James Hinchcliffe. On the outside of row one is another driver for Andretti Autosport, Ryan Hunter-Reay.
On the inside second row, again from Andretti Autosport, is the owner’s son, and Mario’s grandson, Marco Andretti. Lining up in the middle of the row is Team Penske’s Will Power, the winingest IndyCar driver in 2012. On the outside of row two is anther Team Penske driver, and three-time Indy 500 winner, Helio Castoneves!
The biggest surprise of Indy qualifying, and a big dark horse for the race, was where one of the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing drivers starts for the race. The rookie, Josef Newgarden, put his car on the inside of row three. The next two spots on the row three belong to KV Racing, the owners being Kevin Kalkovin and former IndyCar racer, Jimmy Vasser. Those two KV Racing drivers are, the IndyCar veterans Tony Kanaan, and E.J. Viso.
Out of the starting 33 drivers, there are only 6 American drivers in the field! The American with the best shot of drinking the milk in Victory Lane this year most likely is Marco Andretti. Having said that, there is the “Andretti Stigma”! Both his father, Michael, and his grandfather, Mario, have been known to blister the rest of the field in many of their races at Indy, however, only Mario was able to drive into Victory Lane back in 1969. That year Mario was driving for the legendary, “Mr. 500”, Andy Granatelli.
The one driver that I am keeping an eye on is rookie Bryan Clauson, driving the other Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Indy car. I have watched Bryan wheel midgets and sprint cars at Knoxville, Oscaloosa, and Belleville, off and on for the last five years, and he is a very talented race car driver. He even had “a cup of coffee” in the Nationwide Series a couple of years ago with Chip Ganassi. Even though Clauson is in Indy 500 this year, it is still with a small under-funded team, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, with really no chance of wining the Indy 500. Nevertheless, he has his foot in the door, and this year could be his audition for a better team in the future!
My pick for the 2012 Indy 500 is three-time Indy 500 winner, Helio Castroneves!
The Night Cap
Not long after the conclusion of the Indy 500, the focus moves Southeast to the center of the NASCAR world, Charlotte, NC. The longest race of the NASCAR season, the Coca Cola 600, will take the green flag at the Charlotte Motor Speedway late in the afternoon, and race late into the night.
Qualifying for the Coca Cola 600 will get under way this Thursday at 7 pm EST. However, if the All-Star race was any indication as to who will be strong for the race, the following drivers and teams may be “letting the big dog eat” Sunday night!
The driver that is now a whole lot richer after his All-Star victory is “Mr. Five-Time”, Jimmie Johnson. Looking equally as strong Saturday night was his team-mate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., wining the fourth segment and finishing 5th overall. “Blazingly Bad” Brad Keselowski finished second to Johnson in the “money segment”, as well as wining segment three. Matt Kenseth finished third overall, but won the second segment. As a note, ol Kylie Busch seemed to have a very strong horse, and therefore, do not count out “The Shrub” Sunday, either.
As a member of JUNIOR NATION, and seeing that the Hendrick Motorsports Diet Mtn. Dew #88 Chevy was a strong horse in all five segments, I am thinking that Dale Jr, has a very good chance to break out of his extremely long winless drought! Go #88!
However, if I was a betting man, I would put the farm in the back seat of the #48 Lowe’s Chevy! In the final segment, the money race, Johnson was just too fast for the competition to deal with Saturday night. I think that “Mr. Five-Time” is back!
I would like to leave you with just one thought
This weekend let us not forget what this holiday is really all about. It is a time that we should all be grateful to, and remember all of, our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and grandparents who fought for our freedom so that we could enjoy this weekend of the greatest racing of the year!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!
Check out this Keith Urban video and listen to the lyrics!