Report: Indianapolis 500 Pole Day moving to Sunday

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Changes will be made to the current Indianapolis 500 qualifying format, as Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star is now reporting that Pole Day will be shifted from its traditional Saturday afternoon spot to Sunday, May 18.

According to Cavin, IndyCar Series officials were hoping to have final details on the changes presented during this week’s winter meetings in Indianapolis with drivers and teams. However, that will not be the case.

Since the 2010 season, Pole Day on Saturday has featured the top 24 positions on the starting grid being set, with the exercise culminating with the pole-determining “Fast Nine” shootout for the top nine drivers.

However, Pole Day excitement on Saturday has been giving way to Bump Day boredom on Sunday. In each of the last two years, there have been no instances of bumping, as the final nine positions on the grid have been filled with very little drama (see last year’s Bump Day report here).

That won’t do for Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, who has made revitalizing the Month of May one of his biggest priorities during his tenure. On May 10, the IndyCar Series will stage their inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the reconfigured Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as a kickoff to preparations for the “500” on May 25.

At a sports marketing forum in Las Vegas this past December, Miles foreshadowed changes for Indy’s qualifying weekend that “some will think are heresy and some will think are tweaking.”

It appears we now know at least one of those changes. We’ll see if more comes down in the near-future.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.