IRL: Cheever to field two-car team in 2004

Red Bull Cheever Racing will expand to a two-car team for the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series season, with Alex Barron driving the No. 52 car and rookie Ed Carpenter in the No. 51 car. Both cars will have Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone ...

Red Bull Cheever Racing will expand to a two-car team for the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series season, with Alex Barron driving the No. 52 car and rookie Ed Carpenter in the No. 51 car. Both cars will have Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone packages.

"Our planning for the 2004 season began at the end of last year," Red Bull Cheever Racing managing director Max Jones said. "We wanted to build for the new season and hire the best drivers, engineers and crew to get us back on the podium. We're coming into a new year with two very talented American drivers who complement each other well with their range of open-wheel experience. We couldn't be in a better position than right now."

Barron, 33, won his first IRL IndyCar race at Nashville in 2002. The Menifee, Calif., native served as a replacement driver for three injured drivers last year -- Gil de Ferran, Arie Luyendyk and Felipe Giaffone. Barron won the 2003 race at Michigan International Speedway, driving for Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing. He joined Red Bull Cheever Racing for the final three races, with a best finish of seventh at Chicagoland Speedway.

"I'm really looking forward to having a full-time ride with Red Bull Cheever Racing," Barron said. "The crew has already been working so hard to prepare for the season. I'm glad that I will be able to work with Ed Carpenter. He's a very talented driver that will be able to show his full potential this year."

Carpenter, a 22-year-old veteran of the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series and USAC open-wheel racing, was victorious at the inaugural Freedom 100 Infiniti Pro Series race last May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With three second-place finishes in the Infiniti Pro Series in 2003, he competed in three IndyCar Series races for PDM Racing, finishing 13th at Chicagoland Speedway and 13th at California Speedway.

"I'm happy to be given the opportunity to work with Eddie Cheever for a team that he has worked so hard to build," Carpenter said. "I have a close relationship with him since he has been a mentor throughout my entire career. Being teammates with an experienced driver like Alex Barron will be a great advantage for me."

Cheever, a former IndyCar Series driver, is confident for the 2004 season.

"GM ended on a really strong note last year," he said. "I'm looking forward to continuing our relationship with GM and our third consecutive year partnering with Red Bull. Not only are we expanding to a two-car team, we're doing it with two of the best American open-wheel drivers out there."

The Red Bull Cheever Racing team will participate in open tests Jan. 27-29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of the IRL IndyCar season opener Feb. 29, and Feb. 10-12 at Phoenix International Raceway, site of the second IRL IndyCar Series race March 20.

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