Yamaguchi gets green light

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kristi Yamaguchi, who won two world figure skating championships and an Olympic gold medal while skating out of Edmonton's Royal Glenora Club, has been flagged for the Indianapolis 500.

The 1992 Olympic gold medallist for the U.S., who was coached out of Edmonton by Christie Ness, will wave the green flag to start Sunday's 92nd running of the race.

Yamaguchi, who was a recent Dancing With The Stars winner, will give previous winner Helio Castroneves and the 32 other drivers the green to go for the race, subbing for boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. as honorary starter after Mayweather relinquished the role due to a death in his family.

Yamaguchi won her Olympic gold at Albertville, France, and was 1991 and 1992 world champion. The native of Freemont, Calif., was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2005.

DON'T FORGET KANAAN

Brazilian Tony Kanaan was happy to allow Andretti Green Racing teammate Danica Patrick to steal yesterday's show. He's saving his best material for Sunday.

Over the past five years, Kanaan has finished 12th, fifth, eighth, second and third at Indy, and watched teammates Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti pull into the winner's circle.

This year, Kanaan's starting sixth, the worst qualifying position he's had in seven Indy starts, and will be on the outside of Patrick in the second row.

Those who are counting him out, however, might be making a big mistake.

"Let's put it this way," the 33-year-old Brazilian said. "They can talk to her as much as they want, but following the race, you're going to have to come talk to me."

BACK TO LONG BEACH

The Long Beach Grand Prix now has a spot on the IRL calendar.

IRL officials and race organizers yesteday agreed to a five-year extension that will keep the race intact, albeit with a new sanctioning body.

"We're extremely happy that the IndyCar Series will continue our tradition of being America's greatest street race," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the race.

No race date has been set.

THE FRONT ROW

England's Dillon Battistini and Australia's James Davison will start on the front row in today's Firestone Freedom 100.

Battistini won the pole for the developmental series race with a two-lap average of 188.397 mph, while Davison was second at 188.390.

"It's quite challenging, the most challenging oval I've been on," Battistini said. "It gives me a great shot at winning tomorrow, but it's a fantastic achievement in and of itself."

Wade Cunningham, the 2006 winner, will start third.

Jeff Simmons, who's also racing in Sunday's Indy 500, will start 10th


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