Jimmy Kite and PDM Racing Renew Relationship to Take On Indianapolis in '07 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., May 4, 2007, It is not often that belief in a driver overcomes a lack of funding in motorsports. However, events like the Indianapolis 500 transcend...
Jimmy Kite and PDM Racing Renew Relationship to Take On Indianapolis in '07
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., May 4, 2007, It is not often that belief in a driver overcomes a lack of funding in motorsports. However, events like the Indianapolis 500 transcend business and take on an emotional aspect that demands going with what you know will get results. PDM Racing owner Paul Diatlovich (Indianapolis, Ind.) made just such a decision today by announcing veteran IndyCar Series racer Jimmy Kite (a native of Missouri who grew-up in Stockbridge, Ga.) as driver of his No. 18 PDM Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone entry for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500. It will be the five-time Indy 500 starter's third visit to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway with PDM Racing.
The pair first joined together in 2002 in an attempt to make the "500". That May, Kite had his qualifying run washed-out by a late afternoon rain that soaked "The Brickyard" on the final day of Time Trials. As the six o'clock gun rang-out calling an end to qualifying, Kite sat next in line to make an attempt, his chance of making the 33-car field for PDM Racing over for one more year. The combination of the grassroots team and the grassroots driver had better results in 2003 when Kite was again called-upon by Diatlovich to wheel his race car. Kite qualified 32nd, the middle of the three-person final row, but fought his way up to finish 13th, his second highest career finish in the "500" and the most positions gained in that year's event. Kite has made his other Indy appearances in 1998 (where he qualified as the fastest rookie and finished 11th, his highest career "500" finish), 1999, 2000 and 2005. He also narrowly missed making the show in 2001.
PDM Racing, which dates back to 1996, is one of the few original IndyCar Series teams still in operation. The team has entered the Indy 500 every year since its inception. Kite's No. 18, a number long associated with the team, will be overseen by veteran chief mechanic Rob Stark (Cucamonga, Calif.) and a crew of experienced PDM mechanics. The car is maintained in Indianapolis at the famous Leader Card Racers' shop owned by the legendary A.J. Watson.
The financial realities of the sport will limit the amount of time that Kite and PDM have together on the track. The Panoz chassis, currently being upgraded to 2007 specifications, will not roll onto the famous 2.5-mile oval known the world-round as "The Speedway" until the second week of practice. The 34-time IndyCar Series race starter will slip back behind the wheel of an IndyCar for the first time since 2005 on Wednesday, May 16. Kite will get his chance to qualify the PDM entry on Saturday, May 19. The final day of Time Trials, "Bubble Day", is Sunday, May 20. The first weekend of qualifications for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is scheduled for May 12-13. The 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 27 with live television coverage by ABC.
Quotes Jimmy Kite, Driver: "It is great to be back at the Speedway. As soon as I heard that Chris Daughtry was going to be playing race morning I knew I had to sign a good deal. I'm a huge fan. Yes, I'm one of those people that burnt up my phone voting for him last season. Paul is taking a big gamble. He doesn't have all the funding in place and he has turned-away guys with money because he believes in me and what we can do together. That is huge for me. It really builds up your confidence. It was enough for me to leave the hobby shop [ www.JKHobbyWorld.com ] for a month and come to Indy. This is the third time that I have raced with PDM at the Speedway, which is kind of a record for me. I really have to thank Paul and all the guys at PDM for believing in me and what I can bring, on the track, to the program. We know we won't be challenging for fastest lap, probably not even fastest on the second weekend, but I feel pretty good about the kind of race car that we will have. Paul has always given me a good car and it is exciting to be back at the Speedway with PDM. The racing is the real reason I am here."
Paul Diatlovich, Owner: "This is an opportunity for PDM Racing. By investing this kind of time, money and effort into a program, I need a capable gunfighter in the car. There is no one out there that I'd rather have in the car than Jimmy Kite. You want to find a driver that has a feel for that place. He has shown exemplary speed, finesse and smarts when it comes to Indy. I have been fortunate to work with some of the best over my career; guys like Fittipaldi, Sneva, Hornish, and Jimmy are on even par with any of those guys at this facility. That is stating a fact. He is that good. He is probably one of the most underrated drivers in the field. There will be 37 driver combinations and I want to be one of the 33 fastest. That is why we hired Jimmy Kite. It comes from respect and the kid has earned my respect in the two times he has run my car there. We are shooting at a top-ten finish. That would be like a win for us. We won't have one of the fastest cars out there but we are going to put a good car underneath him and try and race all day."