INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 15, 2003 -- Veteran IRL IndyCarTM Series crew chief Kevin "Rocket" Blanch has joined the Indy Racing League as technical manager for the IndyCar Series, league officials announced July 15. Blanch will oversee the ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 15, 2003 -- Veteran IRL IndyCarTM Series crew chief Kevin "Rocket" Blanch has joined the Indy Racing League as technical manager for the IndyCar Series, league officials announced July 15.
Blanch will oversee the IndyCar Series technical inspection crew, a group of 25 individuals, during events. He also will work closely with Phil Casey, senior technical director for the Indy Racing League, and Brian Barnhart, senior vice president, racing operations.
"Blanch's record and performance while with the Pennzoil Panther Racing team were simply outstanding," Barnhart said. "He is well respected within the racing community, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for us with Kevin joining the IRL staff as technical manager."
Blanch, 39, comes to the IRL after serving the previous six-plus seasons with Panther Racing, which he joined the shortly after the team was formed in fall 1997. He quickly became a vital force behind the team's success, including successive IndyCar Series championships with driver Sam Hornish Jr. in 2001-02. Blanch had served as the Pennzoil Panther "Pack" crew chief/right-front tire changer from the team's first test session in December 1997 at Phoenix International Raceway.
"This is a great opportunity for me and is the next logical step in my career," said Blanch, a native of Yorktown, Ind. "I've been with the Indy Racing League since it started. Hopefully, I can bring some of my experience to this position and make it smoother and easier for the teams to go through the tech line."
"I love racing, and I believe in the formula of the Indy Racing League and Tony George's vision. I have always said until I can retire, I want to be a part of the IRL, its race cars and the people in the sport."
During Blanch's tenure at Panther Racing, the team won two series championships, earned 11 victories and five pole-position starts and led 2,032 laps. Panther's cars were running at the finish in 77 percent of the team's starts and completed 90 percent of all possible race laps during his tenure.
Hornish earned his eight career IndyCar Series victories and both of his season titles under Blanch.