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Coach Jim Harbaugh excited to drive Indy pace car

Published: Saturday, May 25 2013 6:10 p.m. MDT

Combined wire reports

Jim Harbaugh is finally going to get to see a yellow flag.

The coach of the San Francisco 49ers will drive the pace car for the start of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, and while he won't be behind the wheel during in-race cautions — when the yellow flag comes out — you can be sure he'll have a wry smile on his face when it flutters in the breeze.

It was just a few months ago, during the Super Bowl in New Orleans, that Harbaugh's 49ers had a chance to take the lead in the waning minutes. But despite contact in the end zone on fourth down, the officials didn't call a penalty, and the Baltimore Ravens held on for a 34-31 victory.

"You brought up a very bitter feeling that I have about that," Harbaugh said with a smile on Saturday. "I probably always will."

Harbaugh has a much more cheerful disposition when it comes to the Indianapolis 500.

He's been getting coaching all weekend from three-time winner Johnny Rutherford, who will slide behind the wheel of the pace car once the race begins. He's also been getting a few tips from folks in the garage area, including his own Panther Racing drivers J.R. Hildebrand and Townsend Bell.

MOVING CHARLOTTE RACE TO VEGAS PANNED: If Bruton Smith is serious about moving the fall Sprint Cup race from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Las Vegas, he'll have a tough sell with NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France.

"My preference would be to keep the event here in Charlotte," France said Saturday during a news conference at the speedway. "That's always been my preference."

Smith owns Charlotte Motor Speedway and eight other NASCAR tracks, including the one in Las Vegas. He told WBTV in an interview broadcast Monday that there's a 70 percent chance he'd move the fall Sprint Cup race from Charlotte to Las Vegas.

"I know (NASCAR) would approve this," Smith said.

JOHNSON NOT FOCUSED ON LEGACY: Jimmie Johnson is focused on chasing victory at the Coca-Cola 600. He says he's not thinking about his championship legacy.

A win Sunday night would be Johnson's fourth in NASCAR's longest race, trailing only Darrell Waltrip's five spring victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Johnson could also strengthen his series points lead with his third win this season as he chases his sixth Sprint Cup title. And a win would be a record seventh at Charlotte.

It's a resume already worthy of NASCAR's Hall of Fame perhaps even in the running for NASCAR's greatest driver — but that is not something the 37-year-old Johnson is ready to think about.

"I just don't pay attention to it all," Johnson said. "It's very difficult to think about where I fit in while I'm still racing. I think of drivers' careers ending mid 40s. I still have 10 years or so to even think about that."

ROSBERG WINS THIRD STRAIGHT F1 POLE: Nico Rosberg set the fastest qualifying time at the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday to secure his third consecutive pole position and a fourth straight for Mercedes.

The German driver finished ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. With Monaco's track the hardest to overtake on in Formula One, Mercedes has a chance to clinch its first win of the season on Sunday.

Defending F1 champion Sebastian Vettel starts from third, ahead of Red Bull teammate and last year's winner Mark Webber.

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