Friday, May 23, 2014

SPECIAL INDY 500 REPORT: There’s No Place Like 3rd Place

     As the racing world gears up for the 98th Indianapolis 500, people can’t help but speculate about who this year’s winner will be. Well, according to Las Vegas, you can put your money on Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti. At 5:1, the odds makers believe he’ll cross the finish line first, which makes him the favorite.
     It must be nice to be the favorite. When you’re a Middle Child, that’s not a position you often find yourself in. My older brother and younger sister always placed first and second in the parental attention derby, while I had a solid lock on third place – which is really no surprise. That’s right where most Middle Children expect to finish. It’s all too familiar territory. Third place is usually as good as it gets, but I say it’s nothing to feel bad about. Even the very best  have spent their fair share of time as the third best. The Indy 500 is a perfect example.

     Everyone knows Al Unser Sr. shares the record for most Indy 500 first place finishes, but did you know he also shares the record for most third place finishes? That’s right, he achieved both these feats four times each. A.J Foyt is another four time winner, but only finished third three times, making him second best at being third best. Unser also shares first place at finishing third place honors with Ted Horn. Horn first placed third back in 1937, then again in 1941, 1946 and 1947. Since there was no Indy 500 from 1942 to 1945 due to World War II, Horn is actually the only Indy driver ever to place third in three consecutive races! Surely his third place hat trick deserves a special place in the Indy Hall of Not-Quite Fame. So does two-time third place winner Michael Andretti (Marco's dad), who holds the record for most laps led at Indy without a victory. That’s not an easy thing to do, but neither is finishing third more than once. In fact,over the 97 races since the Indy 500 started, only 12 other drivers had the skills required to achieve a third place finish twice, making them quite an elite group of racers!
Kissing the Bricks: This seems like
something you'd make the loser do!
     Finally, how can we ever forget David L. Bruce-Brown? “David WHO?” you ask. In 1911, he was the first driver to place third at the very first Indy 500. Yes, he’s the man who started, but couldn't quite finish it all.
     So as you watch the big race this weekend, let’s hear it for those who end up on Third Avenue instead of Victory Lane. Three cheers for you, Mr. Runner Runner Up! So what if you won’t be kissing any dirty bricks at the finish line or wearing a ridiculously oversized wreath this year! And who wants a cold bottle of milk after driving in a circle for 500 miles anyway? You may not be the best, or even the second best, but you can be proud of a job almost well done. So sit back, relax, and light up a good close-but-no-cigar.

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Middle Children need to be heard!