ROGER YASUKAWA TO DRIVE ...
ROGER YASUKAWA TO DRIVE #12 FOR PLAYA DEL RACING IN THE 2006 INDY 500
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.: Roger Yasukawa, a three-time Indy 500 veteran, will try to qualify the #12 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone for the 90th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
After a soggy May where most practice days were rained out, the Playa Del Racing team elected to place Yasukawa in the #12, replacing driver and PDR co-owner Jon Herb, on Friday, May 19th in order to qualify him on Pole Day, Saturday, May 20th. The team simply ran out of available practice time to get Herb up to a speed that would place him solidly in the field of 33 starters. Herb will continue to run the Playa Del Racing entry in the IRL Indy Pro Series, with the "Freedom 100" scheduled to run on Friday, May 26th.
"We needed to adjust our plan to get Jon into the field a bit once we ran out of practice time for him due to all of the rain we have had in May," stated Playa Del Racing team co-owner Gary Sallee. "It's important for our team and our sponsors to have two cars qualify for this race. Jon certainly is a capable and good driver, and we look forward to his input into the rest of this month from an ownership standpoint."
Out of all of the available drivers, Sallee and co-owner Susan Schafer chose Yasukawa based on his past Indy 500 performances, which has seen the California-born racer place in the top 10 twice. Yasukawa took to the track for the first time on Friday at 3:21 pm: "We are excited about welcoming Roger Yasukawa to our team," Sallee said. "He is a fast and solid race car driver who is a great addition to the Playa Del Racing Team, and we look forward to working with him throughout the rest of the month."
Yasukawa was equally excited about the opportunity to race for the Playa Del Racing Team: "I didn't have a ride coming into the month and it feels great to be back on the track. I haven't been racing all year, actually since last year, so I'm having a lot of fun, and you actually see me smiling now. I'm ready to go racing anytime."
During Saturday's pre-qualifying practice, Yasukawa was running solid speeds equal to those drivers who have been on track all month: "We're running 220's now, and we know that's good enough to get into the field for sure, so we're going to focus on the race now. The Playa Del Racing #12 team is fantastic, so hopefully we'll do well in the race."
Qualifying for the 90th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race started on Saturday, May 20th with WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Day and will conclude on Sunday, May 21st, with the traditional Bump Day. In Pole Day qualifying, Yasukawa was 28th quickest, with a speed of 218.793 mph.
The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ABC will broadcast the race live beginning at noon (EDT). Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at noon (EDT). The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com.
The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 at 12:30 p.m. on May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at 12:15 p.m. (EDT).