IRL: Indy500: Miller not to run; Vukovich returns

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 8, 2001 - Veteran Indy Racing driver Dr. Jack Miller announced May 8 that he will not participate in the 85th Indianapolis 500, instead concentrating on his recovery from a concussion suffered in a racing crash last ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, May 8, 2001 - Veteran Indy Racing driver Dr. Jack Miller announced May 8 that he will not participate in the 85th Indianapolis 500, instead concentrating on his recovery from a concussion suffered in a racing crash last month.

Miller was one of 11 drivers involved in a crash during the zMAX 500 Indy Racing Northern Light Series event April 28 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "I have pushed myself in the last week to get ready for Indy, but after evaluating my injuries, I realize I will need some time to get healthy," said Miller, a practicing dentist in the Indianapolis area. "I must step away and take a break from racing. I have to think about protecting my health for my dental career, as well.

"I am disappointed that I will not be able to participate in the 85th running of the greatest race in the world, but after careful consideration of all the issues, I believe my decision is in the best interest of my health and my family."

Said Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League vice president of operations: "Dr. Jack has a real passion for the sport of auto racing, and I know this must be a tough time for him. Dr. Jack has been a positive presence here in the Indy Racing League for the last five years; he has been a very popular driver among fans and has been a great ambassador for his sponsors and his teams. Everyone here at the IMS and Indy Racing League wish Dr. Jack the very best and a speedy recovery."

Miller has made three Indianapolis 500 starts since joining the Indy Racing League in 1997, with a best finish of 20th as a rookie in 1997. Miller was scheduled to drive this year at Indy for Cahill Racing.

He will continue to be involved with Cahill Racing and will display his sponsor's signage on the car of teammate Robby McGehee. McGehee's No. 10 car will be painted to match the Olympus/Opalescence Tooth Whitening System paint scheme scheduled for Miller's car.

"I will continue to work with Cahill Racing and all my sponsors on the business side of racing as we move forward," Miller said. "I want to thank my fans and sponsors for their tremendous support. This has been really tough, but I know that my health is the most important consideration."

Vukovich returns to Indy: Bill Vukovich II, who finished second in the 1973 Indianapolis 500 and drove in the race 12 times, returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 8 for the first time in nearly a decade.

Vukovich, whose father, Bill Vukovich, won the "500" twice and was leading when he was killed in a crash during the 1955 race, separated himself from racing after his son, Billy III, was killed in a sprint car race Nov. 25, 1990, in California.

"It finally dawned on me that my niche is in racing," said Vukovich, 57. "I built a new home 25 miles from the entrance to Yosemite Park, and I've been laying on my butt for four years."

In April, Vuky called his friend Ron Hemelgarn, owner of 1996 Indianapolis winner Buddy Lazier's car. After eight years away from the sport, Vukovich was ready to return.

"I'm open to anything," said Vukovich, who worked for Bill Simpson as a sales rep for racing products after his retirement from racing. "This is where I belong."

The Vukovich family is the only one in which a father, son and grandson all drove in the "500." Bill Sr. started in five, winning consecutively in 1953 and 1954. Bill II had six top-10 finishes, while Bill III drove in three, with a 12th his top placing. Bill II and Bill III each were voted Rookie of the Year.

Vukovich also is an accomplished golfer who usually battled Lloyd Ruby for the annual pre-race drivers' golf tourney championship. After walking the garages May 8, Vuky headed to the Brickyard Crossing Pro Shop to see old friend, course head pro Rollie Schroeder, and get his first view of course that was rebuilt since the last time he was at the Speedway.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Buddy Lazier , Bill Vukovich , Brian Barnhart , Jack Miller