The 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 will follow the event's traditional three-week format, with Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway scheduled for Sunday, May 9th 2004, and nearly a month of pageantry and on-track action will culminate with Race Day on Sunday, May 30th.

Opening Day will feature special ceremonies and the first Indy Racing League IndyCar Series official practice of the event. Practice continues daily from May 10-14.

Qualifications start Saturday, May 15th with the drama of Pole Day. Drivers will aim to capture the coveted MBNA Pole Award and its accompanying bonus and other prizes. Second Day Qualifying takes place Sunday, May 16th.

There will be no track activity May 17-18, but the track will re-open May 19-22 for four days of practice leading up to the thrilling final day of qualifying, Bump Day, Sunday, May 23rd.

The second annual Freedom 100 event for the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series is scheduled for Saturday, May 22nd. It's the premier event for the Indy Racing League development series, featuring many Indianapolis 500 stars of the future.

While there will be no IndyCar Series on-track activity May 24-26, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway again will play host to the popular 500 Festival Community Day on Wednesday, May 26th, featuring track laps for the public in their passenger cars, a driver autograph session and other family-oriented activities.

Miller Lite Carb Day, the final practice session for the starting field of 33, takes place Thursday, May 27th. Fans also will see the action-packed 28th annual Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge in which top race teams compete for the right to become "The Fastest Crew at Indy." Miller Lite Carb Day will end with the Carb Day Concert.

Race Day for the 88th Indianapolis 500 will be Sunday, May 30th. The green flag for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will drop at 11 a.m. (Indianapolis time). It will be broadcast live on ABC-TV and the IMS Radio Network.

While the schedule follows a traditional format, the 88th year of activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be anything but routine. The theme for this year's event is Lights, Camera, Traction! in a salute to the star power and drama of the event and its drivers, and a number of IndyCar Series stars will attempt to put their mark on history.

Two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. returns to Indy with a new look, in the famous red-and-white colours of Penske Racing, the most successful team in Indianapolis 500 history with 13 victories. His Marlboro Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, will attempt to win his third Indianapolis 500 in four years.

Castroneves has the best finishing record in history of any driver in his first three races at the famous 2.5-mile oval, having finished first, first and second, respectively, from 2001-03. He won the pole in 2003.

Another favourite for the 2004 Indianapolis 500 crown will be Scott Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion. Dixon scored nine top-five finishes in 16 races in 2003 but finished a disappointing 17th at Indy due to a late-race accident. He will return to Indy in 2004 with the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team with teammate Darren Manning, an Indianapolis rookie.

88th INDIANAPOLIS 500 SCHEDULE:

Sunday, May 9 Opening Day PracticeMay 10-14 PracticeSaturday, May 15 Pole Day (MBNA Pole Qualifying, practice)Sunday, May 16 Second-day qualifyingMay 17-18 No track activityMay 19-22 PracticeSaturday, May 22 Freedom 100 race for the Menards Infiniti Pro SeriesSunday, May 23 Bump Day (Final day of qualifying)May 24-25 No track activityWednesday, May 26 500 Festival Community DayThursday, May 27 Miller Lite Carb Day (Final practice, Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge, concert)Friday, May 28 No track activitySaturday, May 29 Public Drivers' Meeting, 500 Festival ParadeSunday, May 30 88th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race

 

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