The Longest Day

If this week is like other Memorial Day weekend Sundays for me I'll be wanting more racing when it finally comes time to shut things down.

Even a day that starts with 500 miles at Indianapolis and finishes with another 600 at Charlotte is not enough racing as far as I'm concerned.

To say Sunday is the biggest day of the racing year is an understatement. The eyes of the world turn to auto racing on that day and it's a chance for the sport to shine.

The Indy 500 has eroded in stature in recent years and there's no doubt a long road is still ahead for Indy Car racing to reclaim the audience lost in the ugly open wheel war. However the 500 is one of those rare events that transcend its sport, like the Kentucky Derby in horse racing or The Masters in golf. You don't have to be a fan of auto racing to know what the Indianapolis 500 is all about and thousands, who never watch another lap all year long, will tune in Sunday to watch.

Hopefully they'll see a competitive race with exciting racing. The field isn't short on story lines and even taking Danica Patrick out of the equation, which I realize is nearly impossible, this year's 500 has enough interesting angles to capture the imagination.

Once the checkered flags flies at The Brickyard the attention shifts to Charlotte for the longest race of the NASCAR season and the Coca-Cola 600. While I've been a proponent of shortening up some Sprint Cup races in response to the shortening attention span of our society and as an effort to juice up competition, the 600's length is just fine.

It's one of the most unique races on the planet and a complete test of man, machine, team and endurance. Throw in the added challenge of starting the race in the heat of the day and ending it under the lights and the annual May race in Charlotte provides the opportunity for plenty of twists and turns.

Two of the last three years have seen "surprise" winners roll into victory lane at CMS with Casey Mears winning a fuel strategy extravaganza two years ago and David Reutimann surviving two days of rain last year to score his first career Cup victory. The odds of a non-favorite turning the trick again Sunday are pretty good.

We've been racing since February but in many ways Sunday feels like the start of the season. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer and there's no better way to welcome in the warm weather months than with two of the biggest events in auto racing.

I've been patiently waiting for it to come around since last May and will be sorry to see it go once the checkered flag flies late Sunday night.

Until next year.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2010

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