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Indianapolis 500 Race Countdown Begins With Public Drivers' Meeting

Drivers participating in the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 received final instructions and awards Saturday, May 28 in the Public Drivers’ Meeting during A.J. Foyt Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is scheduled to start at noon (ET) Sunday, May 29. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network/XM 94-Sirius Premier 212 beginning at 11 a.m.

2010 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi accepted a “Baby Borg” trophy from James Verrier, vice president of BorgWarner.

The Baby Borg is a miniature replica of the famed Borg-Warner Trophy, which bears the bas-relief likeness, name and average speed of every Indianapolis 500 winner.

Gary Garfield, chief executive officer of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, presented the 2010 Indianapolis 500 winning car owner’s ring, made by Herff Jones, to Ganassi. Garfield also presented the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series champion’s ring to Franchitti.

In addition, Franchitti was presented with the Louis Meyer Award commemorating his 2010 victory, sponsored by the American Dairy Association. Louis Meyer began the tradition of drinking milk in victory lane in 1936 when he drank buttermilk after his victory. Deb Osza, general manager of Milk Promotion Services of Indiana, presented Franchitti with the award.

Continuing its longstanding tradition with the Indianapolis 500, Ken Keltner of Herff Jones presented each of the 33 starters of this year’s race with their starter rings. Keltner also presented four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt with a Herff Jones ring for serving as the driver of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible Pace Car.

Making his 66th Indianapolis 500 appearance, Indianapolis 500-winning car owner Andy Granatelli presented Dan Gurney with the STP Unsung Hero Award.

Gurney made nine Indianapolis 500 starts between 1962-70, finishing second in 1968 and 1969. His Eagle chassis won the race in 1968 and 1975 with Bobby Unser and 1973 with Gordon Johncock.

“I’m here for one good reason: love,” Gurney said. “Love of giving to others, love of my country, love of my family and friends, and love of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the greatest track in the world.”

Jim Campbell, the U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for General Motors, saluted the Hulman-George family by presenting a plaque featuring two Chevrolet vehicle steering wheels to IMS Chairman of the Board Mari Hulman George. Campbell also presented a plaque featuring the steering wheel from the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible Pace Car to Foyt.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., INDYCAR driver coach and consultant, concluded the drivers’ meeting by discussing race rules and guidelines with the drivers.

Unser instructed the starting field that the restart zone for the double-file restarts was moved from the front straightaway to the entrance of Turn 4. Cars will line up two-by-two on the backstretch and will begin racing as soon as the green flag flies as they approach the restart zone at the entrance to Turn 4.

“As it will be double-file, you have to make sure to take care of each other as you enter and go through Turn 4 and head down the front straightaway into Turn 1,” Unser said. “There will be a great deal of congestion in that corner. This race is won by survivors and smart thinkers, not just the fastest race cars. Control your own destiny, make good decisions and respect this racetrack.”

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