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And Another Thing

File / Associated Press
Drivers take five tribute laps in honor of Dan Wheldon, who died following a crash in the IndyCar Series' Las Vegas Indy 300 on Oct. 16.

Premature gloom?

Randy Bernard has come in for his share of grief in his short time as the czar of the Indy Racing League, most notably and properly for his role in the tragic season-ending fiasco at Las Vegas, where his idea of a bonus prize resulted in a much-too-large field competing at a venue where IndyCars probably shouldn't be competing in the first place.

The endgame to that, of course, was the horrific multi-car crash on lap 12 that took the life of two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, who was in the field to begin with only because he was after the bonus money.

That said ... Bernard, the man who made bullriding a national hit, was hired to do the same thing for the drooping ratings and visibility of IndyCar. And the latest numbers suggest he's succeeding.

This doesn't mean the IRL is about to overtake NASCAR, of course. But a 28-percent jump in TV ratings and a 22-percent rise in attendance suggest open-wheel racing is, after a long dreary decline, beginning to track upward again.

Ben Smith's blog.