New qualifying format doesn't tarnish Pole Day magic

With a new qualifying format and leaner crowds, Pole Day at Indy isn't the pressure cooker it used to be. But it's still a major part of the Indianapolis 500 mystique, writes John Oreovicz.

Updated: May 11, 2007, 5:44 PM ET
By John Oreovicz | Special to ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- The rules are different and the crowds are a fraction of what they used to be, but Pole Day is still a major part of the mystique of the Indianapolis 500. Just ask Rick Mears.

Best known for his four Indy 500 race wins, Mears also holds the race record with six poles. And the man known as "Rocket Rick" might be even prouder of his qualifying feats.

"The race is 500 miles to get it sorted," Mears said. "You just see what you have and then dial it from there. But ...

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