05/25 10:11 CDT All eyes on skies as rain threatens Indianapolis 500
All eyes on skies as rain threatens Indianapolis 500
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) --- The day before the Indianapolis 500 dawned sunny, bright
and otherwise perfect.
If only it were race day.
The forecast for Sunday calls for an 80 to 90 percent chance of rain, with
thunderstorms expected throughout the day. That means a lot of uncomfortable
waiting for IndyCar drivers and teams, track and series officials, broadcast
partner NBC and about 250,000 fans.
"I would just tell everyone to remember: This is Indiana," Indianapolis Motor
Speedway President Doug Boles said Saturday, alluding to the state's
If storms do hit the speedway, two things could happen:
---SQUEEZE IT IN: The race becomes official after 101 laps, marking the midway
point of the 500-mile race. That means a window of a couple of hours would
allow someone to reach victory lane.
The last time the race was shortened was 2007, when Dario Franchitti completed
166 laps before rain moved over the track. It was the first of his three Indy
There have been six other rain-shortened raises, including the 2004 race called
with Buddy Rice in the lead with 20 laps to go, and the 1976 race won by Johnny
Rutherford. He took the lead on lap 80 and needed to lead only 22 laps before
the race was called after 255 miles --- the shortest in history.
IndyCar President Jay Frye said the race could begin as late as 6 p.m., given
the amount of daylight this time of year. And with new broadcast partner NBC
pouring considerable resources into promoting the race, network officials will
no doubt be willing to wait as long as possible.
---RUN MONDAY --- OR TUESDAY, OR WEDNESDAY: Only three times in 102 previous
races has it been pushed back from Sunday. The last time was 1997, when rain
brought a Monday start. Fifteen laps were completed before it was delayed
again. Arie Luyendyk finally won on Tuesday.
The other times were 1915 and 1986, when bad weather sent the race to the next
weekend. Bobby Rahal, whose son Graham will start Sunday, finally won that
year's race when it was run May 31.
The race also could finish on Monday if fewer than 100 laps are run Sunday. The
race will simply pick up where it left off whenever the weather is clear,
something that occurred in 1967 and 1973.
Regardless of what happens, officials are optimistic the track can be dried
quicker than ever.
The speedway used a new sealant on the track after last year's Brickyard 400
that was primarily intended to strengthen the 14-year-old asphalt surface. But
along with giving it a distinctive jet-black hue, it also helps water run off
the track rather than soaking into it.
"Technically, the application penetrates the surface and closes off hairline
gaps under the surface to help prolong the life of the asphalt," Boles
explained during a test late last year.
Throw in the speedway's fleet of jet dryers to help speed the process, and the
track can be ready to go in about 90 minutes. That is roughly half the time
needed to dry the brickyard.
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