IRL: Indy 500: Pit Stop Challenge report

Rahal-Letterman Racing, Rice Continue Reign at Indianapolis INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- If pole sitter Buddy Rice receives the same quick service in the 88th Indianapolis 500 that he had in the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge on...

Rahal-Letterman Racing, Rice Continue Reign at Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- If pole sitter Buddy Rice receives the same quick service in the 88th Indianapolis 500 that he had in the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge on May 27, he'll be in the hunt at the end.

Rahal-Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent crew members, with Rice as the driver, defeated Marlboro Team Penske, with Helio Castroneves in the seat, in the championship of the competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"These guys have never given up," said Rice, a first-year driver for Rahal-Letterman Racing. "They've done an excellent job the whole time. So this has been a big deal for them and everything. This has been huge. These guys have had an excellent time. This is their deal and their time to shine, and that's what's supposed to happen.

"We're starting on the pole and have been working hard all month. This is just icing on the cake for them. Now have to go and focus on Sunday and hope we can win the big one."

Rahal-Letterman Racing, the 13th different team to win the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge, received $30,000 of an $80,000 purse. Twelve teams began the competition, in which they had to change four tires and make a simulated make fuel hose connection to the car's fuel cell for a minimum of three seconds after the car came into the pit area.

The Rahal-Letterman Racing team had a final-round time of 12.3365 seconds. It defeated Andretti Green Racing (Dan Wheldon) in one semifinal, while Marlboro Team Penske topped Andretti Green Racing (Tony Kanaan) in the other semifinal.

With the MBNA Pole Award and Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge in the bag, team co-owner Bobby Rahal sees it as an omen for Race Day.

"Two out of three so far. We'll go for the trifecta," he said.

Miller Lite Carb Day was also the final opportunities for IRL IndyCar® Series drivers to make pre-race adjustments for the 88th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

The two-hour session May 27, in which all 33 starters for the 88th Indianapolis Motor Speedway combined for 624 incident-free laps, was the final opportunity for teams to shake down their entries and scrub the tires before the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 30.

"We did all of our leak checks and ran a few laps in traffic; the car feels great," said Rice. "I think the Argent/Pioneer Honda will be able to run at the front all day with this setup.

"I know it's a long day and the conditions will change. The big thing this year will be pit stops. With the smaller full tank, there will be more pit stops (about 10) and the crews will be very important."

In other IndyCar Series news, Subway officials announced today that it will serve as primary sponsor of the No. 20 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500.

"It's great to have Subway involved in the Indianapolis 500," Unser said. "We'll do everything we can to give them a good run."

Access Motorsports officials announced that Rent- A-Center, Eufora MasterCard and University Loft Co. have signed a one-race agreement to sponsor owner/driver Greg Ray's car in the 2004 Indianapolis 500. Ray's car will carry a new paint scheme, which debuts today during Miller Lite Carb Day final practice prior to the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500.

"We know our awesome Honda power, along with our G Force chassis and Firestone tires, will be ready to race on Sunday," Ray said. "We are very excited about Rent-A-Center, Eufora MasterCard and University Loft's participation with our team for this year's running of the Indy 500."

-ims-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Bobby Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice
Teams Team Penske