The Essence of Pole Weekend is Back

With a combination of glorious Spring weather and a new qualifying procedure in place to guarantee bumping, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway enjoyed an extremely successful opening weekend of time trials for the 2007 Indy 500. The new qualifying system has been in use for the past two years, but rotten weather in 2005 and 2006 had caused it to fizzle. But this year, by golly, it worked!

A nice crowd was on hand Saturday to enjoy the ?Run For the Pole? and, by our observation, no one was disappointed.

For those of us who have been coming to the Speedway for most of our lives, the new qualifying procedures were just what the doctor ordered. It seems that, in recent years, the elements of drama, suspense and emotion were somewhat conspicuous by their absence. However, by the end of Pole Day, everyone on the Speedway grounds appeared to have been thoroughly entertained!

As always, there was an early afternoon lull in on-track activity when the original qualifying line ran out. But, even during this semi-quiet time, the crowd seemed to be having a good time. With plenty of sunshine, live music and cold beverages available, there was every reason to party! Several folks we talked to had no intentions of leaving early.

?This is the way it felt to come to the Speedway in the ?70?s and ?80?s?, said an old buddy visiting the track for the 34th consecutive year. ?No way we?re leaving before 6 PM?got to stick around to see who gets bumped!?

?Now?if we could figure out how to re-invent the Snake Pit!?

Emotions ran high throughout the day for both competitors and spectators alike, For drama, we had Dario Franchitti (and wife Ashley Judd) sweating it out on the provisional Pole from around noon until five minutes to six. At that point, following eleventh-hour runs by Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, Dario suddenly found himself on the outside of row one with no time to fire back. Old time drama, indeed!

The new sub-plot of bumping on Pole day was obviously a big hit with the fans. The idea of being ?on the Pole? and ?on the bubble??all on the same day?seemed to capture everyone?s imagination. Also, the closeness of the speeds, probably due to the nearly ?spec series? the IRL has evolved into, also seemed to make the fans happy.

There really did seem to be a new, positive energy around the Speedway during Pole Weekend, 2007. Now, about re-inventing that Snake Pit?.

JA the Dirt Guy

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