INDIANAPOLIS, May 12 - Tri Star Motorsports announced Wednesday here that the Dallara Aurora it fields for Rookie of the Year point leader Jeret Schroeder in the Indy Racing Northern Light series will carry Kroger Food Stores as its...
INDIANAPOLIS, May 12 - Tri Star Motorsports announced Wednesday here that the Dallara Aurora it fields for Rookie of the Year point leader Jeret Schroeder in the Indy Racing Northern Light series will carry Kroger Food Stores as its primary sponsor beginning with the Indianapolis 500. Practice for the May 28 race, the world's largest single-day sporting event, gets underway Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Kroger's involvement in the team, owned by NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart; noted engineer Larry Curry and businessman Rick Ehrgott, will include various driver and show car appearances at Kroger stores in addition to exposure at the races. The press conference announcing the sponsorship was held at the Kroger at 71st St. and Georgetown Rd., a few miles north of the track.
Schroeder's #6 has been repainted blue and carries the Kroger logo on its sidepods.
"We all want to welcome Kroger to the Tri Star Motorsports team," said Schroeder, who finished fourth in the series' last event, held April 22 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "The marriage between Tri Star Motorsports and Kroger is ideal for everyone involved, and we all hope it brings good things on and off the track. All of the Kroger employees and customers can count on me and the entire Tri Star Motorsports team to do our best!"
As part of the program Kroger will use Schroeder as a spokesperson in regional television and radio commercials airing in the next two weeks.
Schroeder plans to make a half-dozen appearances at Indianapolis-area Kroger stores prior to the 500 to meet Kroger shoppers and let them see his car up close.
The tentative schedule for Schroeder's appearances is as follows:
May 13, 9 a.m.-10 a.m., South Madison, Ind. Kroger;
May 14, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., 116th St. and Allisonville Rd., Indianapolis Kroger;
May 19, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., Rockville Rd., Indianapolis Kroger;
May 21, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., Crawfordsville Rd., Indianapolis Kroger;
May 23, 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m., East 10th St., Indianapolis Kroger; and
May 26, 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m., North Green St., Brownsburg, Ind. Kroger.
In addition, Stewart will make five appearances this month at area Kroger stores. He is scheduled to join Schroeder at the May 13, 14 and 21 appearances. He also plans to make two solo appearances from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on May 16 and 17. On May 16 the site is the Kroger at 86th and Township Line Rd. in Indianapolis, and on May 17 he plans to be at the Kroger store at 3110 National Rd., Columbus, Ind.
"Our partnership with Tri Star Motorsports will give Kroger customers the opportunity to meet Jeret and see his Indy car, and also to talk to Tony," said Sonya Saunders, Kroger spokesperson. "There will also be Kroger hero cards which Jeret will autograph during his visits to the stores.
"Kroger has a long tradition with racing and race fans," she added. "Thousands of Kroger 'Pack for the Track' box lunches are taken to the speedway each year. Kroger plans for the May surge so we can offer race fans one-stop shopping with everything from box lunches, cold fried chicken, subs, snacks, beverages, ice and coolers to enjoy; sunglasses and sunscreen to protect; and film and souvenirs to remember the 84th Indy 500.
"Kroger has been involved in racing for over a quarter of a century," she added. "We were involved with the establishment of the Jim Clark Award, which honored people who depicted the sportsmanship and character of Clark. As a bit of trivia, the last person to receive that award was Tony George.
"We are the longest continuous sponsor in the NASCAR Busch Grand National series, as we sponsor the Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park each year," she added. "We're impressed with the professionalism of the Tri Star Motorsports team; we're glad to help a rising star like Jeret Schroeder and we just love racing, so we're all very excited about this new partnership."
Schroeder, a 30-year-old driver from Vineland, N.J., is one of the brightest young stars in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. Although he is a rookie in the series itself this year and leads that category's point standings, he competed in the Indy 500 last year. He had the most consistent qualifying laps of any rookie at IMS in 1999, earning the 21st starting spot in the 33-car field with an average speed of 220.747 mph. He was running eighth just 25 laps from the finish when his car's engine expired, but he still finished 15th.
This year Schroeder is competing in all nine races on the Indy Racing Northern Light schedule.
Schroeder competes in sports car endurance races in addition to Indy car events, and he has top-10 finishes in the prestigious Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring for his work behind the wheel of the Supreme Exhaust System Products/Racer Parts Wholesale Riley & Scott Chevy. Prior to advancing to Indy cars Schroeder was a star of the Toyota Atlantic series, earning two of that series' most prestigious awards: the Rising Star Award and the Gilles Villeneuve Award. Schroeder earned the national championship of the U.S. Formula 2000 series, an official training ground for Indy Racing hopefuls, in 1995.
Practice gets underway Saturday and will be held each day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through and including Friday, May 19. On Saturday, May 20 practice is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. prior to time trials, which will be conducted during the 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. window. "Bubble Day" is the following day, Sunday, May 21, with practice from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and qualifying from noon until 6 p.m. The 33-car field will be set at the end of this day.
No cars will be on the track from Monday, May 22 through Wednesday, May 24, although other ancillary activities are scheduled those days. The final practice session before the 500 is "Carburetion Day" on Thursday, May 25, with practice from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. followed by the annual Coors Pit Stop Contest. More ancillary activities are set for Friday and Saturday, May 26-27 (among other things, Schroeder will appear in a fashion show and a parade those days), before the race itself gets underway at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 28.