Patrick Racing Joins IRL Team To Begin Racing At 2004 Indianapolis 500 JACKSON, MI - - MARCH 21, 2004 - - U. E. "Pat" Patrick made it official today by announcing that Patrick Racing will join the Indy Racing League and compete in the IRL...
Patrick Racing Joins IRL
Team To Begin Racing At 2004 Indianapolis 500
JACKSON, MI - - MARCH 21, 2004 - - U. E. "Pat" Patrick made it official today by announcing that Patrick Racing will join the Indy Racing League and compete in the IRL IndyCar Series beginning with the 2004 Indianapolis 500.
"I am very excited about competing at the Indianapolis 500 again and in the IRL IndyCar Series," Patrick noted.
Patrick Racing will campaign a Chevrolet powered 2004 Dallara with Firestone Firehawk tires. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time CART Champion Al Unser Jr. will pilot the #20 Patrick Racing entry.
"We are still seeking a title sponsor, but with the support of Chevrolet, I intend to help finance and field a team that can compete for victories at every race we contest. We have a very competitive car with Chevrolet power, a Dallara chassis and, of course, Firestone tires and Al Unser Jr. is a proven winner," Patrick said.
IRL and CART veteran Steve Newey will be a Vice President and the Technical Director for the team. Newey, who won national championships with Galles- Kraco Racing in 1990 (Al Unser Jr.) and Rahal/Hogan Racing in 1992 (Bobby Rahal), was the Race Engineer for Patrick Racing in 1991 and the Team Manager/Race Engineer from 1993-1999. Most recently he served as Vice President of Race Operations for Kelley Racing (2003).
Coincidentally, it was Patrick who helped orchestrate Firestone's return to open wheel racing. In 1991, Firestone became the "official tire" of the Indy Lights Championship, which Patrick helped create. Then in 1993, Patrick, with Newey as Team Manager, and Firestone formed a tire testing partnership, which eventually led to the tire manufacturers' return to IndyCar Racing in 1995. Patrick Racing went on to post Firestone's first victory in the inaugural season of their return at the 1995 Michigan 500 when Scott Pruett narrowly defeated Unser Jr. in one of the closest races in CART history.
Unser Jr., a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is in his fifth season with the IRL and 24th at the premier level of American open wheel competition. He has amassed a total of 34 career wins (31 in CART and three in the IRL) including wins at the Indianapolis 500 in 1992 and 1994 and national championships in 1990 and 1994. The resident of Henderson, Nevada finished an IRL career high sixth in the championship standings last year with 374 points. He finished 15 of the 18 races, more than any other driver, and scored 11 top-10 finishes including a win in June at Texas Motor Speedway.
Patrick, who enters his 32nd year of team ownership in 2004, is one of the most respected names in motor sports. He began his racing career as a sponsor in the late sixties. In 1970, he formed his own team and over the next 30 plus years, Patrick Racing has become one of the premier and most successful teams in the history of American open-wheel racing. Patrick drivers have started 787 races, won two national championships (Gordon Johncock - 1979; Emerson Fittipaldi - 1989) and taken the checkered flag 45 times, including three at the Indianapolis 500 (Johncock - 1973 and1982; Fittipaldi - 1989). Patrick is the "father" of the Indy Lights Championship and the co-founder of CART.
For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).