Brewer's Notebook: Indy 500 Pole Day

Brewer's Notebook: Indy 500 Pole Day

Pole Day brought a sizable crowd to the grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, enough to keep the Pagoda Plaza buzzing with activity while the cars whirred around the track seeking the prestigious Peak Motor Oil...

Pole Day brought a sizable crowd to the grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, enough to keep the Pagoda Plaza buzzing with activity while the cars whirred around the track seeking the prestigious Peak Motor Oil Award.

Scott Dixon pulls out to qualify.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.

At the end of the day it was Scott Dixon who won the $100,000 prize. Moreover, he takes home the cool Toro riding lawnmower that was waiting in the wings for the pole-sitter.

Among the most outrageous activities today was A J Foyt Racing's Darren Manning commandeering the T-shirt gun from Firehawk, the yellow bird-beaked Firestone mascot in the bright red, slightly-feathered suit who wanders the pitlane on the biggest days of Indy Racing League competition.

Manning fired off a few rounds of tees into the crowd before resuming business as usual in the Foyt Racing pitbox.

In off-track activities, the Indy Racing League announced affiliation with the Hole in the Wall Camps as charitable partner.

The organization provides children stricken with cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS and other conditions an opportunity to enjoy recreation and therapy in a camping experience.

"I've admired (founder) Paul Newman's commitment to the charity for years," said Tony George. "Hopefully, we'll be able to help more children with serious illness get the chance to just be kids for awhile."

"This is an amalgamation which completes the unification of American open-wheel racing on all fronts," said an emotional Newman from alongside George on the podium of the Economacki Press Room at the Speedway.

Top NHRA funny-car driver Ron Capps joined the spectators at Indy on Saturday, taking in the speed and the color of Pole Day.

"This is my second time at the Indy 500," he said, "having spent time in the suites when I was here with the Skoal people several years ago."

"It takes a lot of courage to go into Turn 1 at 230 miles per hour," he said of making a run at Indy in the seat of a modern open-wheel machine. "That takes a pretty special driver."

Jason Priestley is back in the Indy Racing League; though not in the cockpit this time. He's co-owner of Rubicon Racing, whose driver Max Papis has been struggling to find speed over the Indy oval.

"Whether we qualify today or tomorrow, or even Bump Day, the key is simply to get into the show," Priestley said. "We've had our setbacks because of the rain, but we're thrilled to be here and look forward to qualifying."

And finally, the medical report has encouraging news on two fronts.

Alex Lloyd was released from Methodist Hospital Saturday morning. He'll take a few days off to recover from neck pain he incurred with the accident on Fast Friday and return to the Speedway next week for re-evaluation prior to resuming in the RLR Ganassi Racing No. 16 entry (probably on Wednesday).

Chuck Buckman, of Dale Coyne Racing, was moved from ICU to a regular hospital room today after being treated for a subarachnoid hemorrhage and a skull fracture. A repeat CAT scan showed no signs of worsening of his condition from the original injury he suffered after being struck on pitlane on Friday.

Quick Hitters:

Ed Carpenter, of his mother in the two-seater with him at speed: "I knew she was nervous, and there was a 'panic button' in the cockpit for her to press just in case. I did warn her not to bother pushing it, because I wasn't going to stop."

Tony George, on today's weather (bright sunshine and blue skies) after two days of race-track rain-out: "I looked out the window and said a prayer of thanks for one day in a row."

Paul Newman, observing the cars qualifying from a seat in the pitlane: "It's been awhile since I've been here, just a few feet away from the cars going 230 mph. It's pretty darned impressive."

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Series INDYCAR