Indy 500 Champion Buddy Rice Joins DRR; Green Flag Waves for Sarah Fisher's Open Wheel Career INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (DRR) announced today that they will expand to a two car team featuring 2004 Indianapolis 500...
Indy 500 Champion Buddy Rice Joins DRR; Green Flag Waves for Sarah Fisher's Open Wheel Career
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (DRR) announced today that they will expand to a two car team featuring 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and four-time "Most Popular Driver" Sarah Fisher.
Rice, the popular American driver, will celebrate his sixth year in the IndyCar Series when the green flag drops at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24. He drove for Rahal Letterman Racing in 2006 and will continue to pilot the No. 15 Honda powered Dallara.
"We are very excited to add Buddy Rice to our team with all the changes we have made during the off season," said team co-owner, Dennis Reinbold, whose expands to a two-car operation for the first time since 2003. "We have made a commitment to focus on the future and with Buddy joining our team, we can continue to strive to meet our goals for 2007 and beyond. Buddy has a track record of success and will be a nice addition to our growing team."
Fisher will wheel the second entry for the team in 2007 alongside Rice in the No. 5 Honda powered Dallara. Fisher's most recent races in the IndyCar series came in 2006 in the Meijer Indy 400 at the Kentucky Speedway on August 12, and the Peak AntiFreeze Indy 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway on September 9, where she placed 12th and 16th, respectively.
"Sarah really showed us she had matured as a racer and we were eager to sign her to the team for 2007," said Reinbold, who first put Fisher in his car back in 2002. "Sarah is very professional and will represent our sponsors well both on and off the track."
The Dreyer & Reinbold team will continue to use the off season to prepare for Homestead. Returning for its fourth sponsorship season with DRR is locally-based Roll Coater, who coats steel for multiple industrial uses. Also joining the team for '07 will be EurUp Energy Drink on Fisher's car and Bitburger on Rice's car in new sponsorship roles. The 106th St. Grill will also celebrate their seventh season with the team. "Racing for Kids", for whom Robbie Buhl, DRR team co-owner, has served as national spokesman since 1989, will also partner with the team.
"We are still working to fill out the rest of our sponsorship budget for the 2007 season but thankfully, we were far enough along at this point to be able to go forward with a two-car program," added Buhl. "We've been very busy getting ready for this season and are energized about our preparation for this season. Though we still have plenty of work to do before Homestead, we are confident we will be ready. We plan to focus on Buddy in Daytona on the road course to get him comfortable with everyone, more or less as a shake-down run for us. Both Buddy and Sarah will be in Homestead for the open test."
Rice, the young open-wheel star, entered the IndyCar Series in 2002 where he competed in the final five races of the IndyCar Series season with Red Bull Cheever Racing. In 2003, Rice's sophomore effort yielded 16th in the IndyCar Series point standings after competing in 13 of the 16 races for Red Bull Cheever Racing. The Arizona native continued climbing the ladder and went on to win the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 from the MBNA pole position in 2004 for Rahal Letterman Racing while substituting for injured driver Kenny Brack. He went on to earn five poles and three wins en route to a third place in the point standings in the IndyCar Series in his first season with Rahal Letterman Racing.
"Dreyer & Reinbold is really trying to step up their program especially with the engineers they have brought on board to make the team a front runner full-time, said Rice, who competed in the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona this past weekend. "With Chris Finch and John Dick coming from Fernandez and me coming from Rahal, we had worked together a little bit in the past and I think there is a bit of a relationship there already. I'm really excited to join the team and it will be great to see what we can do in 2007. DRR has lots of potential and I look forward to helping them tap into that."
The 26-year-old Fisher, who was awarded the 2001, 2002 and 2003 IndyCar Series "Most Popular Driver" award and the 2005 NASCAR West Regional Series "Most Popular Driver" award, will return to the IndyCar Series with 50 IndyCar Series races under her belt. During her IndyCar Series career, Sarah has had best finishes of second at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2000, and a third place finish at Kentucky Speedway in 2001, giving her the best two finishes by a woman ever in IndyCar racing.
"Coming back the last two races last year really made me realize how much I've missed it," said Fisher, who spent the off season running her shifter kart, testing at Skip Barber, going to school and training in hopes this year would happen. "Things have changed a little bit since I've been gone, but I'm up for the challenge. It seems like the opportunity will allow us to run up front and that is more exciting than ever. Mentally, I've grown 10 years as a person in only two years," said Fisher, who is attending Ellis College on a part-time basis pursuing a business undergraduate degree. "I've matured tremendously in my thought processes. Physically, I'm in the best condition I've ever been in and that is going to help with mental decisions this year."
Rice began his career in Formula 2000 where he captured his first victory and won the Valvoline Team USA Scholarship in 1997. He moved up to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship where he competed from 1998 to 2000 winning the prestigious Gilles Villeneve Memorial Award during his rookie season, placing fifth in the overall standings in his sophomore year for Lynx Racing, and capturing the Championship in his last year in Champ Car's developmental series for DSTP Motorsports, scoring five wins.
Fisher began her IndyCar career in 1999 at just 19 years old with Walker Racing. In 50 starts, Fisher posted three top-fives, seven top-tens, became the first women to start from the pole position, has led 39 laps and is the fastest women to qualify for the Indy 500 with a speed of 229.439.
The five-foot-two inch racer raced quarter-midgets and go-karts until she was a teenager, winning the 1991, 1993 and 1994 World Karting Association Grand National Championships and the 1993 Circleville Points Championship. By the time she was 15, Fisher was racing Winged Outlaw Sprint cars winning the 1995 Dirt Track Racing Round-Up Rookie of the Year. While in high school, she was racing sprints beating Mark Kinser and Sammy Swindell. At just 18, she was racing Ryan Newman, Jason Leffler, and Kasey Kahne in the USAC midgets winning five of the 23 main events.
The XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 will be the first race in the 17-race 2007 season on the IndyCar Series circuit. Homestead-Miami Speedway will play host to the race which will be carried live on ESPN2 in the prime-time slot at 8:00 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, March 24.