IRL: Motegi: Kelley Racing preview

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 6, 2003)-- There is a high level of anticipation at Kelley Racing for their first international IndyCar Series race which will be held on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan. "This is a great opportunity to bring the ...

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 6, 2003)-- There is a high level of anticipation at Kelley Racing for their first international IndyCar Series race which will be held on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan. "This is a great opportunity to bring the excitement of IndyCar racing to our team partners who have facilities in Japan," said Jim Freudenberg, vice president of commercial operations for Kelley Racing. "We are looking forward to this trip and hope that we end our weekend on the podium so that our Japanese partners get the full IndyCar experience."

This will be the first race at Twin Ring Motegi for Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry while his teammate, Al Unser Jr., driver of the No. 31 Corteco/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, raced at Twin Ring in CART competition in 1998. Unser Jr. had a podium finish of second in 1998 and is looking forward to racing in Japan again. "I think the fans in Japan are going to see a great race with these IndyCar Series cars," said Unser Jr. "They are designed for this type of racing and I think the race is going to be very exciting for everyone involved."

For Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry, this will be his first race abroad as an IndyCar Series driver and in addition to the race; Sharp will be spending a significant amount of time with his team's Japanese based partners. "We have a really busy week planned prior to racing at Motegi," said Sharp. "I'm going to be with Delphi and Futaba visiting their Japanese based operations and I'm really looking forward to all of the new experiences they have planned for me."

Kelley Racing will begin the first practice session for the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 on Friday, April 11 morning at 10:30 a.m. local time with a second practice session set to begin at 2:30 p.m. Practice will continue on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with qualifying set to begin at 1:00 p.m. On Sunday, April 13, the 200 lap Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 race will be shown tape delayed on ABC beginning at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Kelley Racing Fast Facts:

--This will be the sixth season of IRL competition for Kelley Racing.

--Kelley Racing drivers have made 124 starts, scored seven victories and eight poles in IRL career competition.

Al Unser Jr. - No. 31 Corteco/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone

--This will be Unser Jr.'s 311th career start, his 38th IRL start and his second season with Kelley Racing.

--Unser Jr. is currently tied for eighth place in the point standings with 49 points.

--Unser Jr. finished seventh in last year's championship.

--Unser Jr. has made one CART start at Twin Ring Motegi in 1998; he started 15th and finished second. He did not compete in the 1999 event due to injuries suffered at Homestead.

--Unser Jr. has won two Indianapolis 500's (1992, 1994) and two open-wheel championships (1990, 1994).

"I've enjoyed racing at Twin Ring Motegi. I have had a little bit of success over there in the CART cars and I think it will be a great race with the IndyCar Series cars because they are built to run that type of oval track. Twin Ring Motegi is a beautiful facility and I think you will see the cars running two abreast so it should be an exciting race for everybody involved. There's a little more banking at Motegi than a lot of the tracks we run, although it is a little bit like Phoenix International Raceway in the fact it's tight on one end and a little wider on the other end through the corners. I think there will be a couple of grooves through Turns one and two and then it will get much tighter through Turns three and four. The competition in the IndyCar Series is so deep that I don't think that running at Motegi in the past will necessarily be a big advantage. I'm really looking forward to going back to Japan to race."

Scott Sharp - No.8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone

--This will be Sharp's 69th IRL start and his sixth season with Kelley Racing.

--Sharp is currently sixth in IndyCar Series point standings with 56 points.

--Sharp finished sixth in last year's championship.

--Sharp has never raced at Twin Ring Motegi.

--Sharp was the 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion and the 2001 Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole winner.

"I'm very excited for the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 in Motegi for a number of reasons. First, I've never been to Japan and second, there are a number of very important corporations with a big presence in Japan that are heavily involved with our team. Delphi, our primary partner, has large operations in Japan and Futaba is also a Japanese company with its headquarters in Japan. So, we are going to have a very busy week visiting several facilities and meeting many new people who are partners in our race program. There will also be a very large presence at the track from both of these companies so I think everyone on the Delphi team will feel some added pressure to do well at the Motegi race. Obviously, Toyota and Firestone are Japanese companies, so we are looking forward to meeting several of their executives and showing our appreciation for their support. Finally, I'm very excited to drive on the Motegi track! I've heard from the other drivers that have raced in Japan before that it is a fabulous facility. It looks like the type of track where our Toyota Dallara should run very well. It certainly doesn't hurt that I also like Sushi!!!!"

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp