Al Unser Jr. Hopes for the Best

Does Al Unser Jr. have what it takes to qualify for the Indy 500? If he qualifies, starts the race and his car holds out, can he win? I’m not so sure given his lack of time behind the wheel and his personal troubles.
It was a sad day for Unser, who left the track without comment after his speed was bumped. Unser is part of one of American open-wheel racing’s royal families, an Albuquerque, N.M., clan that has been an integral part of Indy for decades.

His father, Al Sr., won the big race four times. Uncle Bobby won it twice. Uncle Jerry died in a crash on the historic 2.5-mile oval while practicing for the 1959 race. Little Al’s cousins, Robby and Johnny Unser, have also raced at  Indy, as has Unser Jr.’s son, Al III, although the latter has run only in the developmental Indy Pro Series so far.

Unser Jr. is 45 years old now and has driven only one race — last year’s Indy — since 2004. In recent years, he has become better known for his trouble off the track than his success on it. In 2002, Unser underwent treatment for alcohol abuse after his girlfriend said he hit her in the face while drunk in Indianapolis. Prosecutors did not file charges.

Then there was a January crash in Henderson, Nev. He faces a July 11 trial after pleading not guilty to charges including driving under the influence, misdemeanor hit and run, failure to render aid in an accident and failure to report an accident.

I really hope Al Jr has a good race day. It may be just the thing he needs to pull him out of the apparent depression he’s in. Old race car drivers need to be smart and need things to keep them busy after their racing years are behind them. I guess it’s the same for most professional athletes.

Credit Yahoo IRL for the quote.