HILLIARD, OH . . . Team Rahal announced today that veteran open-wheel racer Jimmy Vasser will be the team's second driver at next month's Indianapolis 500. Vasser's ...
HILLIARD, OH . . . Team Rahal announced today that veteran open-wheel racer Jimmy Vasser will be the team's second driver at next month's Indianapolis 500.
Vasser's #19 Rahal/Letterman Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry, when combined with Team Rahal's full-season entry of the #15 Miller Lite/Pioneer Honda/Dallara/Firestone car with Kenny Brack, gives Team Rahal a two-car entry at Indianapolis for the first time since 1995.
Vasser, who drove for Team Rahal during the 2002 season, will attempt to qualify the second Rahal/Letterman entry on the final day of qualifying for the 87th running of the Indy 500. While driving for Team Rahal in 2002, Vasser won the fastest 500-mile race ever (197.995 mph avg.) last November at the California Speedway.
Not only does this entry mark a reunion for Vasser and Team Rahal, but also for Vasser and Honda, for whom he won their first open-wheel championship in 1996.
Vasser currently drives for American Spirit Team Johansson in the Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, and he will be in Germany racing in the German 500 on the opening weekend of Indy qualifying.
"I am very pleased we have been able to assemble this effort as I have great respect for Jimmy as a person and driver," said 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal. "Although I was disappointed we were unable to stay together for the Champ Car World Series due to sponsorship difficulties, I am pleased that we will once again be together for the 500. Last year, the team and Jimmy were running very competitively and only an unfortunate gearbox failure prevented us from figuring strongly at the end of the race. With Jimmy joining Kenny now, I believe we are in good shape for presenting a formidable effort for this years' 500. I would also like to thank all the Honda people for their support in making this possible."
"To run Indy is always special and to do it with Team Rahal and coupled with Honda, both of whom which I have a lot of respect for and with whom I have a lot of fond memories of my time with, makes it even more special," said Vasser. "Certainly we will have our work cut out for us with one day in which to qualify the car. Our qualifying chances would be better if we were there for the full duration, but that isn't possible because of the race in Germany. Certainly I will be the beneficiary of hours of work that Kenny Brack and Don Halliday will log in early May."
"Honda is looking forward to working with Jimmy again," said Robert Clarke, Vice President and General Manager of Honda Performance Development. "Honda and Jimmy enjoyed some excellent results from 1996 through 1999, and it would be great to win with him again at Indianapolis."
Vasser has run the Indy 500 seven times previously including the last three seasons. In 2002 he drove for Team Rahal and finished 30th when his gearbox failed. Vasser, the fastest rookie qualifier at Indy in 1992, has a pair of top-five results (1994 & 2001) and has twice qualified in the top-ten.
Team Rahal is now in its second decade as one of the leading open-wheel racing teams in North America. Based in Hilliard, Ohio, the team is co-owned by three-time CART champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman. Currently the team campaigns cars in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series, the Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, and the Toyota Atlantic Championship. The 65-member team enjoys primary sponsorship from Pioneer Electronics and the Miller Brewing Company in the IndyCar Series the Gigante Group in the Champ Car World Series and Argent Mortgage Company in the Toyota Atlantics Championship.