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INDY RACE WEEKEND, PART II: POST- RACE COMMENTARY
Published May 29, 1996
Auto racing writers and columnists reviewed the IRL's Indy 500 and CART's U.S. 500. Here's a sampling: WHO WON: The N.Y. TIMES' Joseph Siano notes if there was a winner, "it was probably" IRL President Tony George, with a "clear but inelegant decision" over CART (N.Y. TIMES, 5/28). In DC, Ken Denlinger writes Indy "fared better than CART had hoped," while the U.S. 500 "went worse than Indy 500 admirers had dared dream" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/28). In K.C., Jason Whitlock gives the edge to Indy, adding "perhaps now athletes will realize that the event (or league) is just as important -- and in many cases, like Indy, more important" (K.C. STAR, 5/27). In San Diego, Nick Canepa writes, "Sure looks like Indy to me" (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 5/27). In Philadelphia, Bill Fleischman: "Indy proved it can run a successful race without CART's marquee drivers" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 5/28). In Milwaukee, Dale Hoffman: "You would have to say Tony George won the first round. You just wish there didn't have to be a rematch" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/27). In Miami, Gary Long writes the day "belongs to George," adding the IRL founder "didn't gloat" over the rough start in MI (MIAMI HERALD, 5/27). In Orlando, Brian Schmitz notes the IRL won "a monumental upset victory," because there were no "deaths or disasters, as everyone feared" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/27). In Indianapolis, Wayne Fuson: "Chalk one up for Tony George and his Indy Racing League" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 5/27). In Tampa, Holly Cain: "The Indy 500 didn't turn out to be as bad as people predicted and the U.S. 500 didn't necessarily end up being reflective of the sport's elite. The lesson in all this is that tradition won out" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 5/27). In Dallas, Cathy Harasta notes Indy was "legitimate," adding that Buddy Lazier's "valor allowed the Indy 500 to stay intact and asterisk free" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/27). In Detroit, Terry Foster: "Although Michigan provided the best racing ... Please make the inaugural U.S. 500 a one-hit wonder" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/27). In Boston, Michael Vega noted Indy went off "without a flaw" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/27). In Toronto, Jim Hunt gives the nod to CART, adding "it was pretty pathetic watching ABC trying to make names out of the drivers at Indy" (TORONTO SUN, 5/28). In Atlanta, Steve Hummer: "Neither Indy nor the upstart U.S. 500 made particularly strong cases to their fractured audience" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/27). ESPN's John Kernan called Sunday's battle "almost a draw." But, he added, due to the crash, U.S. 500 drivers "did little to back up their claim that the best drivers were in Michigan" (ESPN, 5/27). NEXT MOVE? The N.Y. TIMES' Siano notes Sunday's race was more of a "sideshow" than a "decisive battle," as the task facing George and the IRL is to expand their schedule and widen their exposure. The next IRL race is August. For corporate sponsors "who don't want their product's name to evaporate in the summer heat, CART suddenly looks a lot better after Memorial Day" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/28). CART President Andrew Craig didn't rule out CART drivers being at Indy next year and George said he would welcome them (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/27). ESPN's John Kernan said George "appears to be sitting in the cat bird's seat." Kernan reports if the IRL can "beef up" its '96-97 schedule with a 14 to 15-race series, "many experts believe that would force CART's hand and lead to a compromise" (ESPN, 5/27). In Philadelphia, Bill Fleischman notes George and the IRL have "other problems," as tourism in Indy was estimated to take a $10M loss for the month (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 5/28). CART's Craig said he was disappointed at the poor start to their race, but added, "I regard them (IRL) as a competitor, an honorable competitor" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR- NEWS, 5/27).