IRL: Indy 500: Veterans prepare for Bump Day

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, May 17, 2003 -- Veterans Richie Hearn and Robby McGehee will attempt to qualify for the 87th Indianapolis 500 on Bump Day, May 18, in entry changes filed May 17. Hearn, 32, will drive an entry fielded by Sam Schmidt ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, May 17, 2003 -- Veterans Richie Hearn and Robby McGehee will attempt to qualify for the 87th Indianapolis 500 on Bump Day, May 18, in entry changes filed May 17.

Hearn, 32, will drive an entry fielded by Sam Schmidt Motorsports after the team leased a car from Penske Racing, Inc. McGehee, 29, will drive a Panther Racing entry.

Bump Day qualifying, the last chance to earn a spot in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday.

Hearn, 32, will drive the No. 99 Contour Hardening Special Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. The car was entered by Penske Racing, the winningest team in Indianapolis 500 history, as the No. 66T before team owner Sam Schmidt leased it and fielded it as a Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.

"I appreciate the support that Penske Racing and Toyota have provided me in our quest to compete in the 2003 Indianapolis 500," Schmidt said. "Without the dedication of many people, this program would not have come together. I look forward to competing in my third Indianapolis 500 as an owner and hope to repeat our success of last season."

Hearn, from Las Vegas, has made three Indianapolis 500 starts, with a best finish of third as a rookie in 1996. He made nine starts for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the 2002 IRL IndyCarTM Series season with a best finish of fourth at Nashville. He finished sixth in the Indianapolis 500 in a Schmidt entry.

Hearn has one career IndyCar Series victory, in 1996 at Las Vegas.

"I am extremely excited about my prospects for the 87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race," Hearn said. "My relationship with Sam and my experience at the Speedway has me confident for my fourth attempt at winning racing's biggest prize."

Indianapolis 500 veteran Schmidt is one of the leading owners in the IRL Infiniti Pro Series, the official development series of the Indy Racing League. This is the team's first IndyCar Series entry this season.

McGehee, from St. Louis, will drive the No. 44 Pedigo Chevrolet Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone as a teammate to two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. and 1998 Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole winner Billy Boat. The car originally was entered by Panther as the No. 98T.

"I feel so lucky to be here and appreciative that (team co-owner) John Barnes and Panther Racing would bring me in to run a third car," McGehee said.

McGehee was the 1999 Bank One Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after finishing fifth. He finished 21st in 2000 and 11th in 2001 in his other two starts.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Billy Boat , Richie Hearn , Sam Schmidt , John Barnes , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske