"Wherever you go in the world, Andretti is known in racing," he said. "This is Marco's stance. I've never seen him so confident. It's like a new Marco to me."
But Bernard doesn't care who wins on Sunday so long as it is a great race with tremendous story lines. He watched on television as Bubba Watson won the Master's in April, and the golf had him longing for an emotional victory celebration in his series.
The promoter in him craves that spontaneous moment that captures the audience.
"When you're sitting at home on the couch, or you're sitting here, you just watched an exhausting 500 miles of a great race, and the drivers get absorbed in it and show their passion," Bernard said. "These 33 drivers, they have no guarantee they're going to be in the race next year. This could be their last opportunity to win. That's the drama. I think that is important to the sport."
Indy got that emotion last year when JR Hildebrand crashed coming out of the final turn while leading. It opened the door for Dan Wheldon to sail by for his second Indy 500 win, and made for a fascinating display of raw emotion. There was the rookie Hildebrand, devastated but showing how to lose with dignity, and there was Wheldon, ecstatic to have won with a tiny team in a year he did not have a full-time job.
Wheldon was killed five months later in a 15-car accident in the IndyCar season finale, and his presence has been felt at the speedway all month. He's featured on the race day ticket, his car has been on display and owner Bryan Herta will drive it in a lap of honor before the race.
Fans have been asked to wear white sunglasses during tributes on the parade lap, lap 26 and lap 98, which recognize the numbers of his winning cars, and Wheldon's wife, Susie, is here.
"He lived for that race, if that was the only race that he could do in the year, then he would do it," she said. "His family is the most important part of his legacy, so we want to be there to honor him in that way as far as him being last year's winner and everything about that race that he loved so much. I feel like it's important for me to be there."