FORT WORTH, Texas – Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders was overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway. And that was only the pre-race festivities.
Sanders, a former Dallas Cowboys cornerback and current NFL Network analyst, and X Games champion Travis Pastrana were guests of Marco Andretti and Andretti Autosport for the race at the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval. Andretti started eighth in the No. 26 Team RC Cola car.
"This is unbelievable. You see it on TV and you read about it but it's so much bigger," Sanders said. "I'm getting a full education. I like to watch guys in their profession, so to see Marco walk around with a little bit of anxiety, he's so excited to race he can't sit still. He's got that swagger, his hair is flawless, he has his shades on. I like that. That's who I want to be when I grow up."
Iowa Speedway test open to the public
Twenty IZOD IndyCar Series drivers are scheduled to test June 12-13 at Iowa Speedway in advance of the Iowa Corn Indy 250. Public viewing, located on the backstretch, will be open for fans (9 a.m.-5 p.m.).
The administration office will be open for ticket purchases to the race that will feature heat races June 22 to set the starting grid for the race the next night.
Ticket deal with the Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ
Starting June 11, individuals who purchase a reserved seat for the June 15-16 Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ will also receive a July 4 ticket for the 45th Milwaukee Summerfest at Henry Maier Festival Park at the BMO Harris Pavilion.
IndyFest tickets are available at www.MilwaukeeIndyFest.com, at the Wisconsin State Fair Park ticket office at 7722 W. Greenfield Avenue, or by phone at 414-266-7100.
Following the race, ticket-holders are invited to attend the Smash Mouth concert on the main concert stage inside of Turn 1.
We'll talk later
INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said talks with Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage about a 2013 race date would be conducted following the conclusion of the Firestone 550. The track has played host to 24 IZOD IndyCar Series events since 1997, including crown its champion.
"We wanted to focus on this event and not negotiate until after this event," Bernard said. "We want input from team owners, drivers, sponsors, fans and our partners. I want to hear what their opinion is after (the race) and how the (2013) schedule is layed out. We need to focus on what's in the best interest of INDYCAR on competition, entertainment and financial."
Bernard said he expects to announce the 2013 schedule by mid-September. A decision about going forward with the first IZOD IndyCar Series race in China, scheduled for mid-August, will be made next week.
"I know the urgency of getting this done, one way or another," Bernard said.
Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix a big hit
Officials of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix announced a 22 percent increase in ticket sales compared to the last Grand Prix event on Belle Isle in 2008. Grandstand seats for the June 3 IZOD IndyCar Series race were sold out.
Additionally, the Grand Prixmiere charity gala on June 1 generated more than $250,000 for the Belle Isle Conservancy.
“The 2012 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle was a huge success for the city of Detroit, our region and the state of Michigan. It became a galvanizing, watershed event that brought together public and private communities, as well as international attendees, in ways no one could have imagined,” event chairman Bud Denker said.
A.J. Foyt was the grand marshal of the Firestone 550 and gave the command to start engines ("Boys and girls, start your engines.") … Tony Kanaan has qualified in the top 10 in five of the seven events, including at both ovals. … The No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car and the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car received 10-grid spot penalties for an unapproved engine change. Both also will receive a grid penalty at Milwaukee because they did not refit their Indianapolis 500 practice/qualifying engines but, instead, put in fresh Honda engines.