IRL: Indy 500, Indy Racing pole awards sponsor MBNA renews

MBNA To Sponsor Indy 500, Indy Racing Pole Awards Through 2006 INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 22, 2002 - MBNA America Bank, N.A. has signed a five-year extension to sponsor the MBNA Pole Award at all Indy Racing League events through 2006, including...

MBNA To Sponsor Indy 500, Indy Racing Pole Awards Through 2006

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 22, 2002 - MBNA America Bank, N.A. has signed a five-year extension to sponsor the MBNA Pole Award at all Indy Racing League events through 2006, including the coveted pole position for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced Feb. 22.

The winner of the MBNA Pole Award at the Indianapolis 500 - the most prized pole position in motorsports - earns $100,000 and a gold, silver and glass trophy. Scott Sharp won the MBNA Pole Award for the 2001 Indianapolis 500 with a four-lap average of 226.037 mph, joining Indy legends such as A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Rick Mears, Arie Luyendyk and Al Unser Jr. as "500" pole winners.

MBNA Pole Award winners at all other Indy Racing events earn a glass-and-silver trophy and $10,000.

MBNA has been an Indianapolis Motor Speedway sponsor since 1994 and an Indy Racing League sponsor since the league's inception. MBNA began sponsoring the pole award at all Indy Racing events other than Indianapolis in 2000 and took over the Indianapolis 500 pole sponsorship in 2001.

"We at MBNA are very happy to continue our association with the Indy Racing League and IMS," said John R. Cochran, president of MBNA America Bank, N.A. "It is an unbroken link that started with the inception of the IRL."

The 2002 Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 26, is the largest single-day sporting event in the world and attracts a worldwide television and radio audience. MBNA Pole Qualifying for the 86th running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is scheduled for May 11 and will be broadcast live on ABC, ESPN and the IMS Radio Network.

The Indy Racing League season opens Saturday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and a total of 15 races are scheduled for the 2002 season.

"We are very pleased to continue this successful relationship with MBNA," said David Moroknek, IMS senior director of marketing and consumer products. "The drama of MBNA Pole Day at the Indianapolis 500, as well as the chase for the MBNA Pole at the other 14 Indy Racing events, brings high value to MBNA and offers incentive for our talented drivers competing in the Indy Racing League."

MBNA Corporation, a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, has $97.5 billion in managed loans. MBNA is the largest independent credit-card lender in the world and also provides retail deposit, consumer loan, and insurance products. MBNA.com provides credit card, consumer loan, retail deposit, travel and shopping services.

-irl/ims-

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Series Automotive , IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Rick Mears , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford , Al Unser