Homestead: Vision Racing preview

OFF-SEASON DEVELOPMENTS HAVE VISION RACING READY FOR SEASON- OPENER AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI TEAM'S HOMEWORK TO BE PUT TO TEST IN SEASON-OPENER INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 27, 2007) -- Vision Racing's performance in the two Open Tests held at ...

OFF-SEASON DEVELOPMENTS HAVE VISION RACING READY FOR SEASON- OPENER AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI

TEAM'S HOMEWORK TO BE PUT TO TEST IN SEASON-OPENER

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 27, 2007) -- Vision Racing's performance in the two Open Tests held at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sebring International Raceway, show signs of the team's readiness for the season-opening, GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 at Homestead on March 29th. The team's returning drivers A.J. Foyt IV and Ed Carpenter both made their impressions felt during the tests.

After two Open Test sessions on the 1.5-mile at Homestead, Foyt was fifth fastest overall during the course of the two nights. Shortly thereafter at the next stop on the 1.7-mile road course at Sebring, Carpenter recorded 206 laps -- a field high among the 20 car/driver combinations during the four-day Open Test that was split into two groups. Not to mention, after 201 total laps on the road course, Foyt was 10th-quick on the combined sessions time sheet.

Yet, the Open Tests were merely one example of the team's off-season research, development, testing and changes completed over the more than six month off-season. Add to all of that with the team's second Grand American Series Rolex 24 at Daytona, hiring of 13-year IndyCar Series veteran and engineer Jeff Britton, as well as the recently announced sponsorship portfolio headlined by Menards, and it is evident that Vision Racing is poised for the 2008 IndyCar season.

They will commence the season at Homestead where the team scored two top 10 finishes last season with Carpenter leading the way in sixth place and Tomas Scheckter in eighth. Foyt finished 18th in last year's race after getting caught up in an unavoidable accident. Carpenter's sixth place run is the team's best finish at Homestead in four seasons.

Entering their fourth season of IndyCar Series competition, the team is coming off 21 top-ten finishes, three top-five finishes and a third place finish in 2007. Foyt and Carpenter plan on even better results this year.

"The team really worked hard in the off-season to help us get ahead this year and I think we maybe saw a little of that in the open tests," Foyt noted. "I'm excited about the work that's been done and I'm happy to be back with the team this season. I had some good races last year and I know that we can improve on that this year so I'm ready to get the season going."

In four previous attempts at Homestead, Foyt has a best start of ninth earned just last season. His best finish, also ninth, occurred in 2005, for A.J. Foyt Racing, and he has been running at the finish two of the four times he has driven at the track. Last season, in spite of leading the team in qualifying for his Vision Racing debut, he was caught up in a Jeff Simmons/Kosuke Matsuura accident on lap 92.

This season Foyt will pilot the No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firesone machine, switching from the No. 22 he ran with last year.

Foyt added, "I am ready to get back to racing, so going to Homestead is a welcomed trip for me. It has been a long off-season and I am excited to get back in the car to show everybody what the team and I can do this year. I think with the additional drivers, we are going to put on a good race for the fans and I think Homestead is a real opportunity for us to show everybody that we've done our homework and are ready to do well out there."

While this is the sixth season of participation in the IndyCar Series competition for Foyt, he will actually be driving in his fifth full season as he only participated in one race during the 2006 season. His best overall points finish is 14th in 2007 with VisionRacing.

Carpenter's best finish at Homestead is a sixth place run just last season and his best start occurred in 2004 when he started ninth. In his first race at Homestead in 2004 with Red Bull Cheever Racing, he finished 12th. In 2005, driving for Vision Racing in the team's debut in the IndyCar Series, Carpenter started in 20th and finished 18th after getting caught up in an accident. He was forced to miss the 2006 event at Homestead due to an injury suffered in the morning warmup.

"I'm ready to start the season and I thought our test at Homestead went pretty well, so I am looking forward to heading back there to race," Carpenter said. "Obviously, we have to step it up because we have a lot more (Champ Car World Series) teams coming in and a lot more good teams with quality drivers that are going to be on the grid this year, but I welcome the challenge and think that it's going to make the race weekends a lot more exciting for everyone. It's just so important for us to get the 2008 season started off on the right foot this weekend and come home with a solid finish."

Carpenter already got a head start on starting the season off on a positive note as the team's expanded sponsorship portfolio for the 2008 IndyCar Series season included the addition of Menards as the primary sponsor of the No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, driven by Carpenter.

Not only does this mark the return of the recognizable Menards sponsorship in the IndyCar Series, but also reunites the home store retailer with Carpenter. The 27-year-old driver carried the Menards livery in 2002, with Sinden Racing in the Indy Pro Series. In addition, CardioChek returns to the No. 20 machine this season with a stepped-up presence.

This is the fifth full season in IndyCar Series competition for Carpenter and the sixth season that he has participated in overall. His best overall points finish is 14th in 2006. In 2004 he finished 16th, in 2005 he finished in 18th, and most recently in 2007, he was 15th amongst all drivers.

-credit: vr

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