IRL: Indy500 pole gets new sponsor

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 7, 2001 - MBNA America Bank, N.A., will sponsor the prestigious Indianapolis 500 pole award, MBNA and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced today. The MBNA Pole Award will honor the top qualifier each...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 7, 2001 - MBNA America Bank, N.A., will sponsor the prestigious Indianapolis 500 pole award, MBNA and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced today.

The MBNA Pole Award will honor the top qualifier each year for the Indianapolis 500 with a trophy and check for $100,000.

The Indianapolis 500, known as the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," is the largest single-day sporting event in the world, attracting an estimated 400,000 spectators in addition to a worldwide television and radio audience. Some of the greatest names in motorsports are part of the exclusive list of Indianapolis 500 pole winners, including Ralph DePalma, Bill Vukovich, Jim Clark, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Rick Mears and Arie Luyendyk. In 2000, Greg Ray earned the coveted pole with a four-lap average of 223.471 mph.

MBNA began sponsoring the pole award for each Indy Racing Northern Light Series event other than the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, and will continue to do so. The top qualifier at each Northern Light Series event other than Indianapolis earns the MBNA Pole Award and a $10,000 check. "The Indianapolis 500 is an event recognized worldwide not only for its prestige and tradition but also for the close competition and drama that plays out at Indy in May," said David Elgena, senior executive vice president and director of MBNA Motorsports. "MBNA is elated to play a major role in that excitement. We're looking forward to an entertaining 2001 Northern Light Series season and a great month of May at Indianapolis, in particular." MBNA is also a licensee of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League, issuing credit cards for the Indy Racing League, the Speedway and 15 drivers. Before sponsoring the Indianapolis 500 and Northern Light Series pole awards, MBNA was the sponsor from 1996-99 of the Lap Leader Award for the driver who leads the most laps in a race. "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing Northern Light Series have built a strong relationship with MBNA over the years, and we are very proud to take that relationship to new heights with the Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole Award," said Dave Moroknek, senior director, event marketing and consumer products for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League. "For a driver to win the pole at Indianapolis can be considered one of the highlights of their career, and MBNA will realize the value in being part of that tradition."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series Automotive , IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Arie Luyendyk , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Ralph DePalma , Bill Vukovich , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford , Al Unser