IRL: Indy 500: Pit stop challenge preview

Indy crews to show skills in Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 21, 2003 -- Twelve of the fastest pit crews in motorsports will challenge for bragging rights May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: the first-place ...

Indy crews to show skills in Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 21, 2003 -- Twelve of the fastest pit crews in motorsports will challenge for bragging rights May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: the first-place trophy and $30,000 winner's check for the 27th annual Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge.

Since 1977, the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge has paired the finest pit crews and drivers -- including 10 Indianapolis 500 winners -- in exciting head-to-head competition to determine the fastest pit crew at Indy for the year.

The 2003 grid will showcase many of the finest teams and most popular drivers in the IRL IndyCar Series as they compete for an $80,000 purse. Ten of the 12 drivers taking part have won an IndyCar Series race. But the two winless drivers still have plenty of star power: open-wheel racing legend Michael Andretti and rising star Buddy Rice.

The 2003 Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge at 1:30 p.m. (EST, Indy time) as part of Miller Lite Carb Day activities and will be televised live on ESPN2. First-round pairings:

*No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Robbie Buhl) vs. No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing (Buddy Rice).

*No. 31 Kelley Racing (Al Unser Jr.) vs. No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon).

*No. 15 Team Rahal (Kenny Brack) vs. No. 8 Kelley Racing (Scott Sharp).

*No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Tomas Scheckter) vs. No. 21 Mo Nunn Racing (Felipe Giaffone).

Teams that received a first-round bye and will compete in Round Two are: No. 7 Andretti Green Racing (Michael Andretti); No. 4 Panther Racing (Sam Hornish Jr.); No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske (Helio Castroneves); and No. 11 Andretti Green Racing (Tony Kanaan).

The Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge involves a four-round format. Eight teams go head to head, two at a time, in Round One. Four teams get a bye in the first round and take on the Round One winners in the second round.

In each round, the team must change all four tires and make a simulated fuel hose connection to the car's fuel tank for a minimum of three seconds. The winner in each round is determined by the fastest time, and the onus is on crews to complete the stop without a rules infraction as time penalties can make the difference between victory and elimination.

In 2002, the Marlboro Team Penske crew of Helio Castroneves won the competition, delivering Penske Racing its record seventh Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge victory. Three days later, Castroneves won his second consecutive Indianapolis 500, a record 12th for Penske Racing.

The pit stop competition is part of a full and exciting day of activities during Miller Lite Carb Day on May 22 at the Speedway. Final practice for the 33 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race competitors takes place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (EST), the Checker's/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge gets underway at 1:30 p.m., and the Miller Lite Carb Day Concert starts at 3:30 p.m.

1999 Indy winner Kenny Brack and his band, Kenny Brack and the Subwoofers, is the opening act for the concert, and Virgin Music recording artists Cracker will headline the show.

Admission is $10, with children 5 and under free. All Miller Lite Carb Day activities are included in the ticket price.

-ims-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Team Penske