IPS: Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports name Fike 2002 driver

PHOENIX, Friday, March 15, 2002 - Teen-age USAC ace Aaron Fike will drive the Hemelgarn 91/Johnson Motorsports entry in the 2002 Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, Indy Racing League championship team owner Ron Hemelgarn and USAC Silver Crown team...

PHOENIX, Friday, March 15, 2002 - Teen-age USAC ace Aaron Fike will drive the Hemelgarn 91/Johnson Motorsports entry in the 2002 Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, Indy Racing League championship team owner Ron Hemelgarn and USAC Silver Crown team owner Roger Johnson announced March 15.

"Aaron is young, extremely talented and loves to win," said Hemelgarn of Fike, a 19-year-old Midget and Silver Crown standout. "He reminds me of Buddy Lazier and Paul Tracy, who also drove for me at age 19. I look forward to helping Aaron fulfill his goals."

Hemelgarn has owned an IRL team since the series' inception in 1996. He fields the No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Buddy Lazier, who won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and the 2000 Indy Racing League championship. Hemelgarn has partnered with Indy Racing newcomer and Silver Crown team owner Roger Johnson for the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series campaign.

"(Aaron) has already made a mark in USAC competition," Johnson said. "I was impressed with his Silver Crown win at Richmond last year. He should do well under the Hemelgarn 91/Johnson Motorsports banner."

Fike began his motorsports career in karts and was racing midgets by age 15. He was named the 2000 USAC Midget Rookie of the Year and finished fifth overall in the 2001 Midget championship. In June 2001, Fike became the youngest driver to ever win a national Silver Crown race, at Richmond, Va. He was named the 2001 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year and finished 10th in Silver Crown points.

"I want to have two successful years in the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series," said Fike, a native of Galesburg, Ill. "I want to win races and a championship before stepping up to Indy cars and competing in the Indianapolis 500."

The inaugural season of the Infiniti Pro Series will begin July 7 at Kansas Speedway and culminate with the Sept. 14 season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. Nashville Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Gateway International Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway also will play host to Infiniti Pro Series events in 2002.

The 100-mile Infiniti Pro Series "sprints" will take place at the same track and on the same day as Indy Racing League events except for the Texas race, which will take place the day before the IRL's season-ending Chevy 500.

Infiniti Q45 engines will power new Dallara Automobili chassis built for the series, with Firestone Firehawk tires used exclusively on all cars. The V8 engines will produce approximately 450 horsepower for the single-seat winged chassis, providing an ideal training ground for the 650-horsepower, single-seat winged cars of the Indy Racing League.

-hjm-

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Paul Tracy , Aaron Fike