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And on the TV ratings front....the Indy 500 isn't doing so well either

They're small and lean, and faster than hell, and make these funny sounds...but when it comes to TV ratings the Indy-car world could use a bump (Photo: Indy Racing League)



   By Mike Mulhern


   DOVER, Del.
   Looks like NASCAR isn't the only racing operation dealing with sluggish TV ratings.
   The Indy 500, on ABC, was down 14 percent from last season, and down a whopping 40 percent from four years ago.
   No wonder questions are being raised about Tony George and his Indy Racing League – the tour that supports the 500 itself.
   The IRL has the Indy-car world to itself, now that the other guys have folded camp.
   But the 14-year split has done major damage to that open-wheel world.
   And George, whose family owns the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is being asked to spend more time promoting the IRL.
   This Sunday the IRL plays at Milwaukee, with the AJ Foyt 225; next weekend the IRL plays at Texas Motor Speedway, and that Indy-car event is typically one of the world's most exciting races.
   However, the IRL series does need stronger promotion and more major sponsors.
   One suggestion is to run some IRL events on NASCAR weekends at NASCAR tracks. The crossover is obvious – Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon, to begin with, and then maybe Kyle and Kurt Busch, and of course Sam Hornish Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya.
   ABC-ESPN officials have been trying to get NASCAR to help the IRL with such promotions, but so far NASCAR has begged off. After all, why support the competition.
   However a NASCAR-Indy-car double-header could be a marketing bonanza for both, if played right.
   It would certainly put some pressure on Danica Patrick to try one of these 3400-pound monsters.

And sometimes things get really, really hot for the driver (Photo: Indy Racing League)


Tony George should be exiled

Tony George should be exiled for ruining what was the biggest race in North America up until 1996. The split collectively kept the best drivers away from Indy for over 10 years. Sure, some of the CART guys crossed over, and few won. Without the best of the best there, though, it just wasn't the same. Now we have one series again, and the IRL officials and open-wheel supporters want everyone that was outraged by Tony George's greed to now flock back and help him and the IRL. Only if we all get to line up and punch him first. While I'll watch the races here and there, it won't be the same as it was pre-1996 until they keep George away from open-wheel racing. They only thing that is sad are the people that supported the Indy 500 right after the split. That was when the fans should have sent George a message loud and clear that he was a fool, and they should have hurt him in the wallet. We can only hope that he starts feeling the pain many fans felt in the late 90's as the media tried to portray the race as if nothing was wrong.

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