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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Racers & Pacers

May 20, 2013

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 photo 058_zpse129cdea.jpg Scott Dixon

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Racers & Pacers

Qualifying weekend for the Indy 500 is one of my most favorite things to attend, some years it out paces the race itself as far as drama and excitement.  The change in format a few years ago certainly has diminished the excitement a bit, but the most damaging thing this year was the lack of entries with only 34 entries trying to get in to the field of 33. Still there is something thrilling about the qualifying that has drawn me back year after year.

 photo 293040_10151692854596654_346896925_n_zps2260d7d8.jpg Katherine Legge

 photo 149_zpsec660157.jpg Tristian Vautier

I enjoy it so much that for years I would fly up to Indianapolis two straight weekends, one for qualifying and one for the race. The past few years, I have just opted to stay the entire week, which gives me more time to hang with friends and family and also allows me to settle in and work from the comfort of my sister’s home.

 photo 152_zps6ce24d3f.jpg Katherine Legge

 photo 057_zps622dd776.jpg Indianapolis Colts Coach Chuck Pagano

 photo 947362_10152378520192699_1120365920_n_zps4af94c9a.jpg Ed Carpenter

One of the other great things about being in Indianapolis this month is that the Indiana Pacers are still playing, something that was common when I used to come up during the 90s, but really has not happened since the dark day of the brawl in Detroit that decimated the Pacers for years. Just like the old days, the Pacers are back facing their rivals the New York Knicks in the second round of the play-offs.

 photo 098_zpsc21051e6.jpg The Perch

 photo 121_zpsd33c7079.jpg James Hinchcliffe & Kirsten

I got tickets for game six at Bankers Life Fieldhouse vs. the Knicks on the Saturday night after Pole Day at the track, so I would have a busy sports day- spending the day at the track before heading over to the fieldhouse for the game that night. The Pacers came in with a 3-2 series lead and a chance to close out the series at home and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

 photo 055_zpse911cb9a.jpg Kelly

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On Pole day at the Speedway, the first 24 starting positions are locked in based on the fastest 24 speeds, with those not making the cut getting bumped out and having to return on Sunday to try again. The first starting position, or the Pole Position as it is known is determined when the fastest nine drivers are involved in a shoot-out at the end of the day to determine the top nine starting positions. It is a tense and exciting time as the teams and drivers use skill and strategy to get in to the top nine or at least in the top 24 spots.

 photo 104_zpsccce56d7.jpg AJ Allmendinger

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 photo 144_zps39e5a383.jpg Legendary Lynda Vaugh

 photo 056_zpsbac9d19f.jpg Justin Wilson

The weather forecast with rain scheduled in the mid-day did not help teams as they took to the track one at a time to qualify. The weather held off as each team was able to make a qualifying effort and post a time. Penske driver Will Power had the fastest average at just over 228 mph and was joined in the fast nine by Ryan Hunter-Reay, rookie Carlos Munoz, Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter, Marco Andretti, rookie A.J. Allmendinger,  E.J. Viso and James Hinchcliffe.

 photo 185_zps77c04861.jpg Townsend Bell

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 photo 294861_528907783838713_680085064_n_zps7988b35b.jpg Parnelli Jones and Ed Carpenter

There were a few surprises mostly in how poorly some drivers fared including Dario Franchitti (17th), Scott Dixon (16th) and Graham Rahal who did not even make the top 24. Driver Katherine Legge was named driver of the last and 34th entry which meant that at least one team would not make the race.
The fast nine was delayed due to the afternoon rain, but each driver got one shot once the track was dried and amazingly local boy owner/driver Ed Carpenter grabbed the pole with an average speed of 228.762. As a small one car team that is not one of the mega-teams of Penske, Ganassi or Andretti it was a huge upset, but very well received. Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti completed the front row.

 photo 942488_10201407137365218_753726565_n_zps8155749d.jpg Dario & Crew

With the pole settled, I headed downtown to the celebration that was the Pacers game six against the Knicks. I had seats in the wonderful Legends Suite that included free food and drinks and is a great place to watch the game. I had been there back in November for opening night and now I was back to watch this talented young Pacer team come of age and try and close out their second playoff series.

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The game was a thriller, with the Pacers holding an early edge before the Knicks came roaring back in the second half on the strength of multiple three point shots that just kept falling transforming the Pacer lead into a serious deficit in the fourth quarter.  The Knicks shot their way into the lead, making seven consecutive 3-pointers after starting the game 5-for-17. With 5:03 remaining and down by two, Roy Hibbert recorded the most memorable play of the game. After Carmelo Anthony muscled his way around  Paul George, Hibbert slid over from the weak-side and stuffed Anthony at the rim.

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 photo 006_zps8ee3d6f3.jpg Rik Smits

While Anthony missed a shot and recorded three turnovers on four straight possessions, Lance Stephenson scored seven points in a row over the next 1:38 to give the Pacers a five-point lead. George Hill sank four free throws and Sam Young added another as the Pacers, who didn’t turn the ball over once in the final quarter, held off the Knicks for the 106-99 victory and the series victory. The Pacers move on to face defending champion Miami.

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