IRL: MIS Pole Award named after Bobby Unser

MIS Pole award to be named after open-wheel legend Bobby Unser Unser also honorary Grand Marshall of Raceweek Festival BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Open-wheel legend Bobby Unser will return to Michigan International Speedway this week and present the ...

MIS Pole award to be named after open-wheel legend Bobby Unser
Unser also honorary Grand Marshall of Raceweek Festival

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Open-wheel legend Bobby Unser will return to Michigan International Speedway this week and present the pole-sitter of the Firestone Indy 400 with the first Pole Award that will be named after the seven-time MIS pole sitter.

The Bobby Unser Pole Award will be presented to the fastest IRL IndyCar Series driver in qualifying on Saturday morning July 26. "Michigan was kind of like my track," said Unser. "I just really liked the place and I'm honored to have the pole award named after me."

Unser's poles came in July 1971, July 1972, July 1973, July 1974, July 1979, September 1979 and July 1980. Additionally, Unser was the first driver to break the 200 mph barrier at MIS -- in July 1973 - with a speed of 204.487. Unser also captured three open wheel victories at MIS in July 1974 and swept both open-wheel races at MIS in 1979, and added an IROC victory in 1974.

"There have been a lot of great drivers in the 35 years of open-wheel racing at MIS," said MIS Director of Public Relations Steve Shunck. "One of the top names on the list has to be Bobby Unser. It's a great honor to name the pole award after a man who has given MIS race fans so many great memories over the years."

Unser will return to MIS with many fond memories of one of his favorite racetracks. "Michigan probably supported some of the best races that I've ever been involved in," Unser said. "There's no race track that we got more side-by-side racing that we did at Michigan. In my era, MIS was by far the best races we put on any place we went."

When asked which current IRL IndyCar Series driver he would like to see win the Bobby Unser Pole Award, Unser didn't hesitate to say which current driver he admires. "Hornish would be my favorite in a lot of ways," Unser said, referring to the two-time defending IRL IndyCar Series champion. "Hornish is without a doubt the crowd favorite and has really caught my attention."

Unser, who ended his storied career driving for then MIS track owner Roger Penske, also has his eye on his former team. "Naturally, my heart would go with Penske's two cars," Unser said. "I don't have a favorite between the two because I like them both, but I do really like Helio because he's just so rambunctious and has a great personality."

Not only will Unser visit MIS throughout the weekend, he will also make several appearances in Jackson as the Grand Marshall of the Jackson Raceweek Festival. "Michigan and Jackson have been like a second home to me," Unser said. "Everytime I came to race at Michigan we stayed in Jackson and I have plenty of friends there."

Unser will be the keynote speaker at the Breakfast of Champions at the Commonwealth Commerce Center on Thursday morning July 24. Later that evening, Unser will be guest of honor at the United Way Victory Circle Ball at the Jackson Country Club where Unser and his wife Lisa are co-chairpersons. On Friday July 25, Unser will sign autographs along with IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series drivers on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Jackson as a part of evening festivities on Jackson's "Pit Row".

Jackson RaceWeek Festival is a non-profit organization created to bring regional and national visibility to Jackson and the area's auto racing heritage, provide entertainment for residents and visitors and generate economic growth for the community. For a complete schedule listing and event descriptions, visit www.jacksonraceweek.com or call 517-784-RACE (7223), or toll-free 1-877-RACEFEST (722-3337).

Fans can witness MBNA pole qualifying prior to the Sears 200 on July 26 along with the presentation of the first Bobby Unser Pole Award. All seats for the Firestone Indy 400 are just $40, or fans can purchase a combination ticket for both Saturday and Sunday for just $50. The combo ticket includes the Saturday, July 26 Sears 200 along with the IRL IndyCar Series Firestone Indy 400 and the Infiniti Pro Series races on Sunday July 27. Children 12 and under are free all weekend. For ticket information, visit MIS' official website, www.MISpeedway.com, or call the MIS ticket hotline at (800) 354-1010.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Unser , Roger Penske