Indy 500

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There’s like a sacred quality with the two

Memorial Day weekend with the Indy 500 is about as Americana as it gets. We don’t have a lot of history in America. We are a young country, only 234 years old. We have the Fourth of July as a means of celebrating our Independence over the British empire as one of the longest running traditions, but when you think about it, we really don’t have much else that defines us in such a short span.

Our culture and history just isn’t that broad compared to that of England, France or any other European country, but what we do have is a few yearly gems that are true red, white and blue and ours alone. This Sunday will be the 94th running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with the Indy 500, a race that stands alone on its merits and history with all others in sports.

For me, the race and the day itself have a dear meaning just because of all the special days spent with family. My grandfather taught me the importance early on of how special the day was as he went through the history of our family and those who lost their lives fighting for our country beginning with the revolutionary war all the way to Vietnam. He was a Master Sergeant who served in World War II and survived the Battle of the Bulge and later served in Korea. Uncle Robert was lost in the Bataan Death March, and cousin Paul came back very different from his time at Guadalcanal.

The point is that most of the history learned is from those visits with my grandfather, and most of those lessons learned were on Memorial Day weekend with the Indy 500 on television. The day and the race will forever live on as something special that transcends sports and exemplifies everything about the United States of America. When I see that race on, I don’t think about who has the best car, I think about my family and everyone else who has fallen battling for our freedom and rights. The Indy 500 is merely a siren that signals the day and what it means and it’s been doing so for almost 100 years.

This year’s Indy 500 doesn’t have a lot of build up just because of lack of exposure and the fact that there aren’t that many drivers that can win the race. There are only six to seven drivers with legitimate chances of winning the race among the 33 drivers starting.

Ganassi and Penske Racing’s five combined drivers should have the race sewn up. Between the favorites of Helio Castro-Neves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe, there isn’t much else to look for.

The best long shot with a legitimate chance of winning in Penske Racing’s Will Power listed at 8 to 1. It’s not the best long shot odds, but when you’re talking about a five car race, it’s not bad considering he has enough power to make it happen.

The NASCAR race happens later Sunday night. While it doesn’t have the same history that the Indy 500 has, the Coca-Cola 600 has more interest among the average sports fan just because the drivers are more of a household name.

To find the best candidate to win this week, you have to look at how everyone did at the three 1½-mile high baked tracks of Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Texas. Last weeks All-Star race doesn’t figure into the mix just because no one will use the same chassis from that race, although Kurt Busch should be considered a great candidate to win.

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