IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said that the purpose of the $5M challenge allowing non-Izod IndyCar Series drivers to compete in the season-ending race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is to "let his series drivers prove they are the best in the world on oval tracks by swatting down all comers." In Las Vegas, Jeff Wolf notes the "concept already has paid off for IndyCar, Las Vegas and the race." The offer has "received national print media coverage and was the main topic of conversation Wednesday on SiriusXM satellite radio's NASCAR channel." Such "widespread brand exposure is why" the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority is "believed to be paying IndyCar up to $200,000 to be a yearlong sponsor" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 2/25).
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: ESPN.com's Ed Hinton wrote a "monumental crossroads for NASCAR and its surrounding society occurred this past week" as Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500. NASCAR fans "let go" of Dale Earnhardt with "every imaginable documentary, column, story, remembrance and fan salute on the 10th anniversary of his death." Then, as "suddenly as the postrace fireworks over the backstretch, we exploded into celebration of the youngest (20) -- and by all indications the nicest -- winner of the Daytona 500 so far." The governing body's "movement to transform the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing into the National Association for Squeaky-Clean Auto Racing has been afoot for a quarter-century or so." But Hinton added, "Is that what the public really wants?" (ESPN.com, 2/24).
SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE: ATP Int'l Group CEO Brad Drewett has "praised Dubai for leading the way in the promotion of men's tennis in the region." Drewett, speaking at the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open, said, "We think the growth of our tournaments in Asia and specifically in the Middle East in the last ten years has been terrific, starting with this tournament that has been so dominant in the world of tennis." Discussing the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in January, he added, "To have these two great, strong events here is good for men's tennis. And in terms of Asia, China has been a great success for the ATP. ... I think the strength of the game in this area is very clear." Earlier this week, Dubai was voted as "the best ATP 500 tournament for a record seventh time in eight years by the players" (GULF NEWS, 2/25).