IRL: Kelley Racing signs Al Unser Jr

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2002 - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. will drive the No. 7 Kelley Racing entry in the Indy Racing League through the 2004 season with sponsorship from automotive aftermarket company Corteco, team...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2002 - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. will drive the No. 7 Kelley Racing entry in the Indy Racing League through the 2004 season with sponsorship from automotive aftermarket company Corteco, team owner Tom Kelley announced Feb. 21.

"The Unser name has been synonymous with racing for a long time," Kelley said, "but Al Jr.'s accomplishments stand alone, and we're proud to have him aboard."

Unser will drive the No. 7 Corteco Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. He will team up with 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Scott Sharp, the driver of Kelley Racing's No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

This will be the third Indy Racing League season for Unser, one of the most accomplished drivers in American motorsports history. Besides his Indianapolis victories in 1992 and 1994, Unser won CART titles in 1990 and 1994 and was on the winning team at the Rolex 24 sports-car endurance classic in 1986 and 1987. Unser also won the True Value IROC championship in 1986 and 1988 and is tied with the late Dale Earnhardt as the winningest driver in the history of that annual all-star series.

"I'm happy to be joining Kelley Racing," Unser said. "It's been a long time coming. They're the most impressive team in this business, and I feel that I'm with the best team. I'd also like to welcome Corteco into the Indy Racing League and hope that our relationship is beneficial for everyone."

Corteco specializes in automotive aftermarket sealing and vibration control products. Corteco was established in 2001 as the aftermarket business of the world's largest supplier of original-equipment (OE) automotive gaskets and seals, Freudenberg-NOK. Freudenberg-NOK pioneered the total powertrain sealing concepts that automakers around the world have adopted for dry, warranty-free engines and transmissions. Corteco's focus in the aftermarket business is to deliver that same level of OE quality and technology.

"Corteco is thrilled to be the primary sponsor of Kelley Racing with one of the true icons of motorsports behind the wheel," said Greg Gyllstrom, president & CEO of Corteco. "We will have a comprehensive program revolving around the sponsorship, which will include a traveling Corteco technology display for customers, targeted advertising and many relationship-marketing activities. This sponsorship will play a major role in helping us establish a strong Corteco brand in the aftermarket."

The company's product lines include CorTec engine gaskets, TransTec transmission and power steering rebuild kits, and MounTec engine, transmission and strut mounts and bushings. Corteco also produces oil seals, in-vehicle crankshaft seal kits and cabin air filters. Corteco is based in Plymouth, Mich., with manufacturing and distribution facilities in Milan, Ohio, and Newport, Tenn.

"Kelley Racing has always felt that it was important to have business-to-business relationships with our sponsors," team owner Kelley said. "Corteco brings with them that same sense of values, business practices and technologies that can only produce successful results for all involved."

Kelley Racing has recorded six victories and eight poles in Indy Racing League competition. Formed in 1997, the team begins its sixth season of Indy Racing competition on Saturday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami.

-kr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Al Unser