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Danica Starts More Engines than Daytona

NASCAR certainly dulled (demolished, as one bookmaker put it) most of the Indianapolis 500's luster many moons ago, but, thanks partly to pinup girl Danica Patrick, the fabled Brickyard event is making a bit of a comeback.Put the emphasis on bit."People just aren't that interested," said Stratosphere Tower Race and Sports Director Robert Jaynes, adding, "but they will be a little more so right before the race.".

Indy used to be a Memorial Day staple as people walked around with transitor radios glued to their ears excitedly listening in on the action.I remember going to the movies and seeing the best crashes, in black and white, on the weekly news.Now the Indy is run on the Sunday (May 28 this year) before the Monday Memorial Day holiday and folks, who basically don't give a damn about the race anymore, now have cell phones attached to their hearing organs.Patrick, 24, who has yet to win an IRL event but finished fourth in last year's 500, has brought the circuit some sorely-needed name recognition that has been lacking since the likes of Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones and A.

J. Foyt ruled the roost."People are remembering other drivers' names because of her," noted Hilton oddsmaker Jeff Sherman.

"They know the name Dan Wheldon and that he won last year because they were watching to see how she did.".What she did was turn in the highest finish ever by a female while earning Indy Rookie of the Year honors and leading for 19 laps.The Stratosphere posted a pair of Patrick props just about the time March Madness crowds were sweeping through Las Vegas.One asked if Patrick, who started karting when she was 10, would win an IRL event this season and the other whether she'd prevail at Indy.

"There just hasn't been any interest," Jaynes said."I've had them up for months and I have maybe $100 in bets."But with the 500 in May, I'm expecting more soon."People are asking about her, but aren't putting down their money.

"NASCAR and the IRL are two very different things."I thought there'd be more interest now that the IRL has been on TV the last few weeks, but I haven't seen it.".

Jaynes has no qualms about Patrick's qualifications or the fact she's a woman."Anyone who can get in a car and drive like that is legitimate," Jaynes declared."Being male or female has nothing to do with it.".Jaynes is convinced the day will come when women triumph behind the wheel and also on the World Poker Tour."Say I'm a poker pro, we play 99 hands and I win them all," he said.

"Odds are you'll win the next one."That's just the way it is."Anyone can win anything."Look at what Buster Douglas did to Mike Tyson and people said he had no chance.

".The Hilton lists multiple Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves as a 4/1 choice, followed by Wheldon at 5/1 and Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr. at 6/1.Patrick, Dario Franchetti, Scott Dixon and Michael Andretti are next at 12/1.Patrick is 15/1 at the Stratosphere.

Among other drivers of interest, Buddy Rice is 15/1, Al Unser Jr. and Scott Sharp are 25/1 and Buddy Lazier is 50/1.Ed Carpenter is the long shot at 100/1 and the field is 8/1.


Lynda Collins is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of her articles at http://www.procappers.com/Lynda_Collins.htm.

By: Lynda Collins

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