INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, April 9, 1998 - ISM Racing announced today its entries for the 82nd running of the Indianapolis 500. The team has entered three GForce/Aurora/Goodyear cars for this year's event. In addition to veterans Jeff Ward and Jim...
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, April 9, 1998 - ISM Racing announced today its entries for the 82nd running of the Indianapolis 500. The team has entered three GForce/Aurora/Goodyear cars for this year's event. In addition to veterans Jeff Ward and Jim Guthrie, ISM has reached an agreement to enter Rookie Steve Knapp in the team's third car.
Knapp, a resident of Salem, Wisconsin, passed his Indy Racing League Rookie Test in November 1997 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He completed the Rookie requirements in only 63 laps and in just over 45 minutes. Steve's impressive resume includes the 1986 S2000 Pro Series Championship and 1987 S2000 Pro Series National Championship under the ownership of Champ car owner Carl Haas. In a continuing relationship with Haas, Knapp coordinated Mario and Michael Andretti's Champ Car Development and Test Team from 1989-1991. More recently, Steve was the 1996 F2000 Champion, placing the car on the pole for seven consecutive races, and winning four of the last five events of the season. In 1997, Knapp scored five top five finishes in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Series.
Steve says, "I am honored and excited about getting the call from ISM Racing. After I saw Ward's run at Indy last year, it was clear to me that they knew how to get a Rookie up to speed very quickly. I would like to thank Tony George and Leo Mehl for their vision and commitment for the opportunities they have created for drivers like me. I also need to thank John Miller and Scott Gates from Miller Brothers Racing and Carl Haas for their long time support." Knapp will pilot car #55 for ISM this May.
Bob Hancher, Co-Owner of ISM Racing said, "After a third place finish at Indy last year, we have a little unfinished business with Jeff Ward. Running Jeff and Jim should give us a good shot at getting a good race and qualifying set-up. Running Steve gets us a shot at Rookie of the Year, so we all have our work cut out for us! Goodyear has given us a great tire and we look forward to a good month at Indy!"
Co-Owner Gary Sallee stated, "We should announce new sponsors within the next month. We are pleased to enter three quality drivers in the Indy 500, especially Steve Knapp, who we hope will win our second consecutive Rookie of the Year Award."
Mitch Davis, General Manager of ISM Racing remarked, "I have never looked so forward to the month of May as I do this year. We finally have the drivers, crew, and equipment that can win the Indy 500. It takes a special blend of people and equipment to make it happen. It all has to fit. For ISM Racing, it has all come together. We're ready." Veteran Jeff Ward, who finished third in last year's Indy 500 and was the race's Rookie of the Year, is currently second in IRL points to 1997 IRL Champion and current points leader, Tony Stewart. Ward remarked, "After winning the pole at Phoenix, we feel really good about our set-up for Indy. Last year was great, and I gained a lot of experience and knowledge that I'm sure will help us this year. I'm excited about returning to Indy to improve on last year's results."
This will be Jim Guthrie's third Indy 500. In 1996, Guthrie started 19th and finished 18th when his engine gave out after 144 laps. Again in 1997, motor problems plagued Jim as he started 6th and finished 26th after only 43 laps. About his chances at Indy in 1998, Guthrie smiles, "Enough is enough. I'm definitely ready to tackle the Brickyard once again. I feel really good about where we are right now. We've struggled some early in the season, but we know that if we just persevere, we can come out on top. I can't wait for the month to begin!"
ISM Racing will be participating next week in the Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Knapp will be involved in the Rookie Orientation Program April 13-15, and Ward and Guthrie will be on the track with the rest of the veterans on April 16-17. Goodyear tire testing takes place for ISM Racing and other IRL teams on April 18.