Pep Boys 400K Draws Modest Crowd
DOVER, Del. (AP) _ The Pep Boys 400k, the first Indy-car race in 29 years at Dover Downs International Speedway _ where all 107,000 seats are routinely filled for NASCAR _ drew about 25,000 Sunday. But track officials were not discouraged.
``This was never considered a one-race deal,″ said Al Robinson, the track’s public relations director. ``What we have done here is make an investment in the future.″
So, the Indy Racing League will return next year and for at least one more thereafter. And Leo Mehl, executive director of the IRL, is enthusiastic about the growth of the sport in Mid-Atlantic region.
``It took NASCAR many years to establish what they have here,″ he said. ``We’re new, and we expect it to take time, but we hope to be here for a long time.″
He said word-of-mouth will help establish the IRL at the track.
``We came here to have an exciting race, and we hope people will go home and say we put on a good show,″ he said. ``Denis McGlynn and his people at Dover Downs have done everything they can to promote this race, and we’ll grow. It’ll just take time.″
SALAZAR’S MENDING: Eliseo Salazar will spend the next three or four months recovering from injuries sustained in a crash Saturday while he was practicing for the Pep Boys 400k.
The Indy Racing League said Sunday that the 42-year-old Chilean underwent surgery on his right leg and right hip. He was later transported from Kent General Hospital to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. The IRL said further surgery was anticipated.
Salazar also broke his right arm when his car hit the wall exiting the high-banked third turn at Dover Downs International Speedway.
SHORT CHUTES: NASCAR fans in the crowd unfamiliar with IRL procedures must have been surprised to hear the drivers introduce themselves at the Pep Boys 400k. ... The Checkered Flag Four, a barbershop quartet from Montour Falls, N.Y., crossed the line from the stock car circuit, singing the national anthem as they had a week earlier at the Jiffy Lube 300. ... NASCAR Winston Cup star Jimmy Spencer, who won the Delaware 200 Busch North race on Saturday at Downs Downs International Speedway, was asked if he would like to drive an Indy-car, which has a very tight cockpit. ``I think I’ve had too many hamburgers for that,″ the burly Spencer replied.