IRL: Charlotte Thursday Notes

Ken Plotkin - motorsport.com - Motorsport News International Charlotte, NC, April 29 - Twenty-eight Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams with 50 cars set up shop on a cold, rainy day at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the three day event which will ...

Ken Plotkin - motorsport.com - Motorsport News International

Charlotte, NC, April 29 - Twenty-eight Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams with 50 cars set up shop on a cold, rainy day at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the three day event which will culminate in Saturday night's VisionAire 500. Two US Formula Ford 2000 races and a Legends race are also on the card.

Johnny Unser begins his 1999 IRL season in the #92 Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn Dallara Aurora. The team carries with it tremendous tradition. Johnny is the son of the late Jerry Unser, the first Unser to turn a wheel in the Indianapolis 500. 92 is the same number his father's car carried 40 years ago. Team General Manager Lee Kunzman was a very talented Midget, Sprint and Champ car driver. When Lee's career behind the wheel was cut short by a pair of serious accidents, he moved to management side of the sport. He has been paired with team owner Ron Hemelgarn since 1984. Hemelgarn is a long time entrant at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and has tasted victory there.

Johnny's entry also continues the "multiple Unser" tradition of the days of uncles Al and Bobby, and the days of Al and Al Jr. With cousin Robby in the #81 Petro/Moly Team Pelfrey Dallara/Aurora, this is a two-Unser event.

Robby McGehee begins his season in the #55 Energizer Motorsports Dallara Aurora. The entry breaks new ground for Robby, the RM/Conti L.L.C team, and sponsor Energizer. Last year, Robby and Conti teamed up for the US Formula Ford 2000 series, gathering two wins, five seconds and third in the championship. This year they have moved up to IRL. Robby has dreamed of being an Indianapolis racer all his life, even writing about it in a "When I Grow Up" school essay at the age of eight. Robby and car owner Dave Conti are looking forward to this race weekend, then moving on to Indianapolis.

Sponsoring an IRL car is also a step up for Eveready Energizer, who was an associate sponsor for McGehee's 1997 and 1998 USF2000 campaigns. Eveready has learned that racing enthusiasts are heavy users of batteries, and looks forward to building their market with the help of one of America's most talented young drivers.

Robby's black #55 carries prominent graphics of the famous pink Energizer Bunny.

The cold rain that began the day showed no sign of abating, and in the early afternoon Thursday's on-track activities were cancelled.

The original three-day chedule has been compressed to two days, with practice sessions shortened for IRL, F2000 and Legends cars. All races on Friday and Saturday, and Friday's IRL qualifying, will take place as originally scheduled. The open-garage autograph session originally scheduled for Thursday night will take place at 8:45 pm Friday, following the F2000 race. For further information on the revised schedule, call Lowe's Motor Speedway at (704) 455-3205

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Johnny Unser