IRL: Knapp joins Hattori team

Indianapolis, IN - Vertex/Cunningham Racing and driver/owner Shigeaki Hattori announced today that Thomas Knapp would be joining the team for the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series as Team President. Knapp will be in charge of the team's ...

Indianapolis, IN - Vertex/Cunningham Racing and driver/owner Shigeaki Hattori announced today that Thomas Knapp would be joining the team for the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series as Team President. Knapp will be in charge of the team's coordination, management and technical direction, including track engineering.

"I'm looking forward to Knapp coming on board with the Vertex/Cunningham crew," said team manager Ted Bitting. "Knapp brings years of experience to the team with his long and successful tenure in motorsports."

Knapp comes to Vertex/Cunningham Racing with an attractive background in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. Knapp is known best for his work with Greg Ray. From 1997 through 2000, Knapp served as Ray's general manager and track engineer. For that four-year term, Knapp is credited for helping to place cars on the front row at Indianapolis three years in a row, capture the 1999 IRL championship and win the pole at Indianapolis in 2000.

The combination of Hattori's ability to run tough during every race and Knapp's ability to find the perfect set-up for a car on any track, makes today's announcement a good step toward Knapp and Hattori capturing their first Indianapolis 500 victory together.

"I've watched Hattori race on American ovals for six years and he's got quite a talent for this sport," said Knapp. "I know that when a car is suited to him, he can increase his success in the Northern Light Series. And with the month of May just around the corner, I would like to help Hattori pick up a win at Indianapolis and help Vertex/Cunningham Racing get to victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

"I'm hoping that the same ingenuity, dedication and skill that Knapp utilized to make his past teammates a great success will be the ingredients that put the #55 EPSON in victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Hattori.

Knapp's duties begin the same time the team announced it would be switching the #55 EPSON to a Dallara from a G-Force chassis for the duration of the 2001 Northern Light season.

"For some time, I've been debating on whether or not to change the chassis of the #55 EPSON," said Hattori. "But the track record of Dallara is quite remarkable and something I can't ignore any longer. I trust this change will make us an even stronger contender for victories."

Knapp has spent the past four years running with Dallara and looks forward to continuing his relationship with the builder.

"The new bodywork and other changes developed by Dallara for the 2001 season are proving to be a success," said Knapp. "The car gets through the air a lot better than its competition and has ample down force, the combination of which will help Hattori run well for the duration of the season. "

Hattori and Vertex/Cunningham Racing will be participating in a two-day test on April 13-14 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during which Hattori will be participating in rookie orientation for the 85th Indianapolis 500.

-Vertex/Cunningham Racing

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Shigeaki Hattori