JIMMY KITE CHARGES THROUGH INDY FIELD INDIANAPOLIS, May 25, 2003 - Jimmy Kite, of Stockbridge, Georgia, gained the most positions (19) of any driver in today's 87th Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kite,...
JIMMY KITE CHARGES THROUGH INDY FIELD
INDIANAPOLIS, May 25, 2003 - Jimmy Kite, of Stockbridge, Georgia, gained the most positions (19) of any driver in today's 87th Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kite, making his fourth '500' start, drove the #18 Denny Hecker's Auto Connection/PDM Racing Dallara-Chevrolet from 32nd starting position- out of 33- to 13th. The 1997 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year raced as high as the top-ten during the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
"This was one of the hardest races of my career," grinned Kite from beside the oil-stained, red, white and blue Dallara. "We couldn't cruise. The leaders were setting a fast pace and I had to keep pushing every lap. The PDM guys did an awesome job in the pits and we just tried to follow our strategy all day. Considering how few practice laps we ran during the month, we set our goal as a top-15 and we got it. 13th is like a win to this team. We did what you have to in a 500-mile race when you start where we did and it paid off. I'm just so thrilled to be back in the '500'. This race and this track mean so much to me."
"These guys stuck their neck out by keeping me in the car and not going with any of the guys that brought money," continued Kite. "I think everyone is happy with that decision. PDM is a small team on a tight budget. When you see how well this team ran today against the big-money guys you have to ask yourself; 'just how good could these guys be with a major sponsor?"
The event marks the second highest career Indianapolis finish for Kite (he finished 11th in 1998) and the first time since his rookie season ('98) that mechanical problems have not sidelined the fast, and popular, 27 year-old.
"I knew that PDM gave me a good car," offered Kite about making it to the finish. "We just needed to stay out of trouble, have a little luck and hope that some strange mechanical gremlin didn't sneak into the car. I have to admit that I am a little surprised that I feel as good as I do physically. I haven't run a full 500-mile race since '98. Being able to get out at the end of 500 miles and still feel this good tells me how good this Denny Hecker's Auto Connection/PDM Racing car was today. The team did an awesome job."
Kite began his career racing quarter-midgets at the age of eight and worked his way up through mini-sprints, USAC midgets, sprint cars and Silver Crown cars to the Indy Racing League. He is a five-time national champion in various open-wheel series with countless victories. With the 2003 Indianapolis 500 Kite has 23 career IndyCar Series starts and, prior to today, $1,232,000 in career IRL earnings.