Monday, February 21, 2011

What Happens In Vegas(?)

Tomorrow, the IZOD IndyCar Series will officially announce the season-ending finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We've all know it was coming, but the lack of official announcement meant we really didn't have anything concrete yet.

So what's the background there? Well, IndyCar (as the IRL) ran there multiple times between 1996-2000. Arie Luyendyk, Sam Schmidt, and Al Unser, Jr. all won there. ChampCar ran there twice in 2004-05, with Sebastien Bourdais winning both outings. It is worth noting that the track was altered five years ago, with the banking increased. This should be a fast, racy 1.5-mile oval. From all reports, expect side-by-side action not unlike Chicagoland.

For active IndyCar drivers, there's just a little direct history to go on for Las Vegas. Oriol Servia, whom we may see at Newman/Haas, has raced there once, finishing second to Bourdais. Davey Hamilton has raced there five times, with a best finish of 7th. He'll be at Vegas as part of his partial-season run at De Ferran Dragon. Alex Tagliani also has a best of 7th in his two tries there. Justin Wilson has a best of 8th; Ryan Hunter-Reay 10th. Paul Tracy's best was 17th. With the exception of Hamilton, all the other results were from the ChampCar years.

It sounds like Randy Bernard has big plans for Las Vegas, if not necessarily all this year. It'll be interesting to see how it goes over; the Champ Car event was not popular, and was removed from the schedule after 2005. Still, Bernard knows Vegas from his 15 years overseeing PBR, and thinks he can make it work as a big event and destination. The racing should be good; now we'll have to see what sort of promotion comes along with.

There is also the fact my wife really would like to go to Las Vegas, so I have to put my chances of attendance down as at least fair to middling. We'll see what else accompanies tomorrow's announcement.

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