IndyCar champ Helio Castroneves won the pole for today's Indianapolis 500, but regardless of the outcome of the race, he's already claimed a significant victory.
On Friday, federal prosecutors dropped the remaining tax evasion conspiracy charge against the Brazilian driver and his sister. Now Castroneves can concentrate completely on his track tasks.
The other IndyCar series competitors better be worried.
In his first race of the season, just hours after a federal jury in Miami acquitted him (and his sister) of the other tax-evasion charges, Castroneves finished seventh in Long Beach, Calif. The next race in Kansas, he came in second.
Starting from P1 today at Indy, the fan favorite is also a favorite to take IndyCar's biggest race.
From court to course: The season didn't start out so well for Castroneves. Trial on tax evasion charges meant the 34-year-old driver missed the open-wheel series' first race of 2009. But team owner Roger Penske assured Helio that he would have a ride after the legal issues were resolved.
Things began to fall in place on April 17, with Castroneves' acquittal, followed by last week's good news that he wouldn't face a retrial.
So today, Castroneves will start his IndyCar engine with nothing but racing on his mind. And he's likely to be enjoying the traditional post-race milk refreshment this afternoon.
The best racing weekend of the year: Today is a motorsports' fan dream.
The hubby and I will start the day with a viewing of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco. One of our dreams is to one day watch those magnificent machines maneuver the streets of Monte Carlo in person. If I'm still writing about motorsports when we do get there, I'll be sure to track appropriate expenses to claim them as business deductions.
But for now, we'll settle for TV. Thank goodness it's back on Speed and out of the hands of broadcast television hacks.
Then there's the Indy 500. Kudos to King Richard for fielding a car. John Andretti will be in the cockpit of the Richard Petty Motorsports open-wheel entry.
Then we wrap up the day with NASCAR's longest race, the Coca-Cola (nee World) 600 from Charlotte. Not too long ago some energetic fendered car drivers (John Andretti being the first) tightened their belts twice on Memorial Day Sunday, putting in 500 miles at Indy then dashing down to North Carolina to run 600 more.
Sadly, that's no longer possible due to some petty territorial posturing and demands from those aforementioned broadcast TV monkeys in suits executives. But I still hold out hope, as noted in my May motorsports column for Randall-Reilly Publishing, "Doing Double Duty."