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Race-day planner

All right, it's a big race day. The to-do list:

By BRANT JAMES
Published May 27, 2007


1. If you're single, do whatever you want until noon. If you're married and/or have children, have a quick breakfast and a little park or beach time. Be back home by noon, and make sure the grill supplies are in order.

2. Flip on the Indy 500 prerace and hit the pause button on your DVR.

3. Get the grill going. Cook that delicious thing you make, but don't burn it this time. Get the food inside.

4. Hit play about 12:20 and fast forward through the blah-blah, but catch the cool traditions, such as the marching bands and Back Home Again in Indiana. Try not to catch up to real time so you can skip the commercials.

5. Race on, done around 4ish.

6. Nap.

 

7. About 6, click on the Coca-Cola 600. Watch the first 50 laps.

8. Take care of all the Sunday stuff you've blown off so far.

9. Reheat chicken breast about 8:30, finish the 600.

10. Clean the grill tomorrow.

A few good minutes with Chip Ganassi

The one-time driver turned IndyCar and NASCAR sports car team owner spoke Friday about this year's Indianapolis 500 and the myth of Juan Pablo Montoya:

Is there pressure having two of the race favorites in Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon?

It's nice to be in that list of people they say can win the race, and certainly it's great to be in that group. We're coming in here 1-2 in the points, and I want to come out of here 1-2 in the points. We want to win, too. For some reason, I can't figure out why, this race is a little more important than the other ones (insert sarcasm here), so we're making an extra-special effort here. It's two and a half times longer than all the previous races this year, and people tend to forget that.

Does this huge racing day lose something since the 500 start was moved back an hour, preventing someone from racing both it and the Coca-Cola 600?

I think it probably added more to Charlotte than Indianapolis.

Penske Racing, the only other team to run IRL and NASCAR teams, seems to be gaining some momentum after moving all its programs under one roof in Mooresville, N.C. Will you do so?

The history on that has yet to be written, but we'll see. When I get a feel for it, I'll make a decision, but for now my shops are separate, and they'll stay that way.

How do you answer critics of your "rookie" Nextel Cup driver Juan Pablo Montoya when they say he's too aggressive?

He has critics?

Seriously ...

If he wasn't a refreshing guy in NASCAR, you guys wouldn't be asking me about it. I think he's just fine. All this business about how he needs to make friends ... he has plenty of friends. I don't worry about that.

Three threats to win another Indy 500

1. Helio Castroneves

Won in his first two tries (2001-02), started from the pole and was second in 2003. Still waiting to join Louis Meyer, Johnny Rutherford, Mauri Rose, Wilbur Shaw and Bobby Unser as three-time winners. Penske team makes him a player.

2. Sam Hornish

He has lacked that dominant air that helped him win the Indy Racing League championship and Indy 500 last year but has hovered in the top six on the speed charts. Has the Penske X factor.

3. Dan Wheldon

The points leader has had a laser focus on recapturing IRL, 500 crowns that he lost because of mistakes last year. Can he lighten his foot to conserve ethanol without the lean-out knob, though?

Three threats to win a first Indy 500

1. Tony Kanaan

The 2004 series champion and one of its true class acts doesn't need any validation for his career. But he wants this one badly. Had the second-best lap (226.827) of May practice and led Carb Day (225.467).

2. Scott Dixon

The 2003 series champion appeared ready to run away with the race with Ganassi teammate Wheldon last year, but he finished sixth, still his best at Indy. Top lap of month (227.167) and primed.

3. Danica Patrick

Forget the gender stuff. She seems to have an aptitude for the mostly flat, 2.5-mile oval, finishing fourth in her first try (2005) and eighth last year. Back to the gender thing: stop the presses if she wins it.