IndyCar owners support moving up Indianapolis 500 start timeUPDATE Tim Cindric hopes he can help make Memorial Day weekend more special for race fans by pushing for a change that would allow drivers to race in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
Cindric, the president of Penske Racing, asked IndyCar Racing team owners in a recent meeting to persuade Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials to push back the start time of the 500 to 11 a.m. so drivers could race there and in the Coca-Cola 600 later that day.
"I think that the Indy 500 needs to be the best drivers in the world," Cindric said. "(They) need to have access to that race. There are so many guys that are NASCAR drivers now that tell me that someday they want to drive in the Indy 500. Right now, there's no path for them to do that without them giving up their day job."
The decision to move a start time involves several factors. One key element is TV. The ratings for this year's Indianapolis 500 were the lowest in the past five years, according to ESPN, which broadcast the race on ABC and is open to a time change.
"If there are drivers interested in racing the double that day, we would be very open to working with IRL and NASCAR to see if the scheduling is possible without compromising either the Indy 500 or Coca-Cola 600," said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions in a statement.
Only three drivers have competed in both events on the same day: John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart.
So, would there really be a lot of Cup drivers going to Indy if the starting time changed?
"I think you would see John and Robby as the two who would do it," Stewart said. "I don't think you'd see anybody else do it. My belief still is if you're going to do the 500 and do it to win it, you're going to have to go and start the season with that team and run a lot with them just to get acclimated."
Said John Andretti: "Tony is being modest, believe it or not. It would be a piece of cake for him (to return)." pilotonline.com
08/31/09 The Indianapolis 500 will return to its more traditional start time -- 11 a.m. -- if some influential IndyCar Series team owners have a say in it. The leaders of Team Penske and Andretti Green Racing said Saturday they support a change back to the earlier start time to help the event attract NASCAR drivers, which they figure would boost television ratings for the 500. Currently, the 1 p.m. start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not allow enough time for drivers to complete the 500 miles and then fly to Concord, N.C., for the Sprint Cup Series night race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Team Penske president Tim Cindric brought the subject up in an owners meeting held with Indy Racing League officials prior to the race at Chicagoland Speedway. "It's worth one (ratings) point, at least," Cindric said after the meeting. Indianapolis Star
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