INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 6, 2003 -- In a month of May that is full of historic events, the inaugural Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series race will make history May 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While Helio Castroneves will aim for an...
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 6, 2003 -- In a month of May that is full of historic events, the inaugural Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series race will make history May 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
While Helio Castroneves will aim for an unprecedented third consecutive Indianapolis 500 win May 25 and an Unser, Foyt and Andretti are on the "500" entry list for the first time since 1993, several Infiniti Pro Series drivers are looking to carve their names in history as the first driver to score a victory in the Freedom 100.
The race marks the first time in Speedway history that another automobile race will share the famous 2.5-mile oval in the month of May with the Indianapolis 500. The 40-lap, 100-mile race starts at 3 p.m. (EDT) and will be televised live on ESPN2.
Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, will drive in the Freedom 100 in the No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. The younger Luyendyk will attempt to make his first Speedway start, while the elder Luyendyk will attempt to qualify for his 18th Indianapolis 500.
Cory Witherill, driver of the No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone, entered in the Freedom 100 who has competed in the Indianapolis 500. He started 31st and finished 19th in the 2001 "500" and also won the Pro Series race at Nashville in 2002.
Ronnie Johncox and Brandon Erwin also have experience on the 2.5-mile oval in IndyCarTM Series cars, having practiced for the 2000 and 2001 Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, respectively. Neither driver made a qualifying attempt.
Erwin, driver of the No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, is third in the Infiniti Pro Series standings with 67 points. Johncox, driver of the No. 8 REV 1 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, won the pole in 2002 at Nashville.
Sixteen drivers participated in the Infiniti Pro Series Open Test on April 18 at the Speedway, with rookie Marco Cioci leading the way with a lap of 47.8385 seconds, 188.133 mph. Cioci, a veteran of European F3000, is entered in the No. 6 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone and will make his Infiniti Pro Series debut in the Freedom 100.
Infiniti Pro Series points leader Mark Taylor, driver of the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, will try to extend his dominance of the series in the Freedom 100. Rookie Taylor has won the first two races of the season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, leading the most laps in both races. He has amassed every point possible and leads fellow rookie Thiago Medeiros, 104-80, in the standings.
Medeiros, driver of the No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, finished second to Taylor at both events this season and won the pole for the Western Union 100 at Homestead-Miami.
USAC standouts Ed Carpenter and Aaron Fike are entered for the Freedom 100, and both are in their second year of Infiniti Pro Series competition. Fike won at Chicagoland Speedway in 2002, and Carpenter drove the very first Pro Series car ever built in a systems test April 3, 2002, at the Speedway. It was the first on-track test for a Pro Series car.
Legendary development series team Brian Stewart Racing has entered cars in the Freedom 100 for rookies Jonathan Urlin and Craig Dollansky. Brian Stewart Racing fielded cars in Indy Lights for drivers Bryan Herta, Paul Tracy and Jaques Lazier, who all went on to compete in the Indianapolis 500 later in their careers.
Urlin, driver of the No. 3 Budget Rent A Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, is fourth in the standings with 56 points and finished fifth in his first Infiniti Pro Series race at Homestead-Miami. Dollansky, driver of the No. 33 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, finished third in the 2002 World of Outlaws standings and is looking to make his first Infiniti Pro Series start.
Veterans Matt Beardsley and Gary Peterson are entered in the inaugural Freedom 100, with Beardsley in the No. 12 Alpine Bank/Old Republic Land Title Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone and Peterson in the No. 27 AFS Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Beardsley has 50 points and is sixth in the standings, while Peterson's AFS Racing team also has entered the No. 25 AFS Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for a driver that will be announced at a later date.
In addition to Cioci, Dollansky, Medeiros, Taylor and Urlin, three other rookies are entered in the Freedom 100. Jeff Simmons, driver of the No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, is seventh in points and led 11 laps at Homestead-Miami before an accident sidelined him after 34 laps. Paul Dana, driver of the No. 24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, is eighth in points, while Tom Wood, driver of the No. 9 Super 8 Motels/Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, is ninth and finished third in 2002 at Chicagoland.
Ticket information: Tickets for the inaugural Freedom 100 are $5, which is the normal Month of May practice day ticket price. The tickets can be purchased at the gate and the day will include the final IndyCar Series practice leading up to Bump Day, the final day of qualifying for the 87th Indianapolis 500. For more information, call the ticket office at (317) 492-6700.
TV and radio: The Freedom 100 will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. (EDT) on May 17. WIBC-AM 1070 will broadcast the race live on the radio to the Indianapolis area beginning at 2:45 p.m. (EDT). The radio broadcast also will be available online at www.indyracing.com and www.indy500.com.