Vision Racing's Larry Curry, on the eve of the biggest month in racing, finds himself again on the outside looking in.
Curry, team manager of the Indy Racing League IndyCar team co-owned by Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Tony George, was replaced by crew chief Kevin Kukuliwicz on Friday (May 1st).
The announcement came from George himself, the second shoe to drop after the disqualification of the team's cars following qualifying in the season-opening IndyCar Series race on March 29th.
"Larry has been an asset to the growth and building of Vision Racing," George said. "However, after full review of the facts surrounding the disallowance of the teams qualifying runs at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Larry and I agreed that a breach of what amounts to the team's code of conduct had occurred."
The two Vision cars, driven by George's step-son Ed Carpenter and A J Foyt IV qualified second and third on the grid before being moved to the back of the field. The drivers finished the race in fifth and ninth respectively.
"As team manager he was expected to uphold a very high standard," continued George of Curry's oversight, "but in this instance fell short."
On the surface, the move seems the usual 'racing cheater gets caught and wrist is slapped' that is not uncommon in motorsport.
For Curry, though, it's another irregularity that could bring the end of his racing career.
Curry spent time in federal prison for embezzling while operating the racing team of chain discount-store maven John Menard. He pled guilty to the crime, one that carried a three-year sentence he began in 2001.
His release from prison came at the same time George, wife Laura and actor Patrick Dempsey began building a racing team in 2004 with Carpenter behind the wheel. At that time, Curry was hired to run Vision Racing.
When Curry joined the fledgling team, it owned the assets of Kelley Racing but not much more. In time the team began running mid-pack, then nearer the front than the back, as Carpenter's skills blossomed and Curry worked his magic in the pit box. Together they, along with Foyt IV (in Vision Racing's second car) posted 21 top-ten finishes, three top-five finishes and a third place finish in 2007.
The change comes in the same timeframe that Menard has returned to the series, not as a team owner but as the sponsor of the No. 20 driven by Carpenter.
"I miss Indy and all the people, so it's going to be fun to be involved again," said Menard to SPEEDtv.com's Robin Miller. However, Menard's time on the IndyCar circuit will be limited as his son Paul races in NASCAR's top two rungs: the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series.
When he came onboard with Vision Racing, Menard told Miller, "He (Curry) apologized and I think he meant it."
Curry has not made a public comment, at this time, on his leaving Vision Racing or his future.