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Castroneves Gives Indy 500
A "Hollywood Script Ending"
FEELS LIKE OLD TIMES? In Indiana, Ben Smith wrote Sunday's race "felt like Old Indy." Smith: "I haven't seen a crowd that huge and that animated here since ... well, since the Good Old Days." He added, "By every measure you want to use, the Indy 500 doesn't get any better than Sunday" (Ft. Wayne JOURNAL GAZETTE, 5/26). But ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the race "doesn't have the same ring to it." Kornheiser: "Thirty years ago when the Indianapolis 500 was a major deal in this country, (Castroneves' win) would be celebrated all around the country. ... It's like horse racing, it's going down a little bit" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/26). S.F. Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto said Indy is "not as big a deal as it used to be." Ratto: "The hockey and basketball playoffs now have encroached on Memorial Day. It's a much more crowded sports landscape, but the Indy 500 is still an important thing for race fans" ("Chronicle Live," CSN Bay Area, 5/26).
NEW LEASE ON LIFE: NBCSPORTS.com's Mike Celizic wrote under the header, "Castroneves' Big Day May Just Save Indy As Well." Castroneves "could make open-wheel racing important for more than one day a year," as he has "climbed from rising sun to supernova." Castroneves likely will have "morning and late-night talk-show appearances, commercial endorsements [and] stories in the gossip mags," as he has "driven into another world with his entire sport hitched to his bumper for the ride." For Castroneves, "his name was clear, the track was clear, the future was brighter than ever, not just for Helio Castroneves, but for the IRL, as well." Meanwhile, Patrick "ran a good race and nailed down the best finish she'd ever had at Indy" (NBCSPORTS.com, 5/24). Patrick said of Castroneves, "I'm happy to see him happy. It's great for the sport" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/25). SI.com's Bruce Martin wrote of Castroneves' win, "It has to be a big story if Patrick's third-place finish in the Indy 500 is overshadowed" (SI.com, 5/25).
HAPPY QUINCEANERA: Penske Racing has launched a microsite dedicated to Castroneves' win. The victory marks the 15th win in the storied race for team owner Roger Penske. To commemorate the championship, penskeracing.com is offering Indy 500-related merchandise for 15% off. The site also is following Castroneves with video and photos from his victory tour, which includes a visit yesterday to "Live with Regis and Kelly" and other media stops in N.Y. He will be in Dallas today and Chicago tomorrow to promote future IndyCar Series events in those markets (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal). Castroneves noted sponsors and race teams "don't want to be associated" with someone under federal charges. Castroneves: "Having them standing beside me and supporting me through this whole ordeal, it was incredible." He added, "Everybody knows who I am … and when they know you for that long, they know your character" ("America's Nightly Scoreboard," Fox Business, 5/26).
Patrick's Third-Place Finish Could Heighten
Possibility Of Move To NASCAR
DON'T TAKE THE GIRL: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote when Patrick's contract with AGR expires at the end of this season, IRL CEO Tony George needs to "present Patrick with a giant check that lets her write in as many zeroes as she wants." Patrick "cannot -- never, ever, ever -- be allowed to jump from this series to NASCAR or Formula One." If Sunday's race was Patrick's final Indy 500 "as an open-wheel regular, the sport is back in very deep trouble as a niche sport on a second-tier cable network," as her departure would be a "decisive and horrible blow to open-wheel racing." Patrick is a "hothouse flower who is drawn to the lights, loves the attention, and NASCAR can give her attention in ways the IRL can only begin to imagine" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/26).
Coca-Cola 600's 140,000 Ticket-Buyers
Plagued By Rain, Few Remain For End Of Race
DELAYING THE INEVITABLE: SI.com's Tom Bowles wrote, "Within 30 minutes of the race's third red flag on Lap 227, everyone knew the radar left restarting the event all but impossible. For the next few hours, fans started leaving in droves while drivers changed into their street clothes -- knowing the answer everyone knew except apparently NASCAR itself." NASCAR was "left embarrassed by waiting about two hours too long" to call the race (SI.com, 5/25). In Charlotte, Jim Utter wrote NASCAR was in a "no-win situation" Monday. Utter: "Given the on-again, off-again nature of the weather, the nearly two hours it took to dry the track and the fact NASCAR waited longer than two hours after the final red flag before making the call, I think the right decision was made. ... But at some point, somebody has to make a judgment call. In this case, the speedway and NASCAR did their best to accommodate everyone" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/25). In Greensboro, Ed Hardin wrote, "There's never been a sporting event quite like the one we witnessed Monday, and hopefully we never will again" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 5/26). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler wrote, "Race fans got to ponder all sorts of questions Sunday, like why there wasn't a better contingency plan to entertain those fans sitting miserably in their ponchos for hours a bit more. Or why Fox Sports announcers kept so optimistically proclaiming to their audience that there was going to be some racing when the truth was it never got close to that" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/25). However, Driver Ryan Newman, who finished second in the race, said NASCAR did an "excellent job putting an effort in" to attempt to finish the race on Sunday and Monday. Newman: "I don't think there was any type of premature call on the rain-shortened race [Monday]" (HAMPTONROADS.com, 5/25).
Wheeler Attends Indy 500 Instead Of Coca-
Cola 600 On Sunday Because Of Ongoing Feud