IRL: Rahal, Vasser debut the Indy 500 Menard/Dallara in Fontana

Vasser, Rahal-Letterman Racing Test New Miller Lite Car At California Speedway Team Prepares This Week For First Indy 500 Assault Since 1995 FONTANA, Calif., (Feb. 6, 2001) ­ Track preparations have began for Rahal-Letterman Racing's onslaught...

Vasser, Rahal-Letterman Racing Test New Miller Lite Car At California Speedway
Team Prepares This Week For First Indy 500 Assault Since 1995

FONTANA, Calif., (Feb. 6, 2001) ­ Track preparations have began for Rahal-Letterman Racing's onslaught at the Indianapolis 500 as driver Jimmy Vasser and the Miller Lite crew hit the two-mile oval at California Speedway this week for initial test runs of the No. 19 Miller Lite Menard/Dallara car.

Vasser, the 1996 CART series champion from Las Vegas, is no stranger to the current Indy 500 car specifications after finishing seventh in 2000 and fourth in 2001 in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Team owners Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indy 500 winner, and Indiana native and television icon David Letterman also return with Vasser to the famed Brickyard this May with a single goal ­ crossing the yard of bricks first on May 26 in the 500-mile classic.

Rahal and Letterman made the announcement last November that the Miller Brewing Company was returning to the Indy 500 with a their effort for the first time since 1995. Rahal drove the Miller Genuine Draft car to third that year in Rahal's fina l Indy driving appearance.

The 2002 Indianapolis 500 will mark the 30th season that Miller has been a sponsor in open-wheel competition dating back to 1973 in the United States Auto Club (USAC). Since its first involvement, Miller Indy and Championship cars have won 17 races including the 1985 Indianapolis 500 (with Danny Sullivan), 19 pole positions and two CART season championships (with Sullivan in 1988 and Rahal in 1992).

"It's exciting to come back to the Speedway," said Rahal, the 13-time Indy 500 starter. "I had the greatest day of my racing career in winning the 500 and the worst day of my career when we didn't qualifying for the race in 1993. But the Indy 500 is a magical race and I would love to return to victory lane again with Jimmy, David and Miller Lite. We have all of the components to run up front."

Vasser, a six-time starter with two fourth place finishes at Indy, has two 500-mile wins to his credit ­ 1996 U.S. 500 in Michigan and the 1998 Marlboro 500 in Fontana. The California native has won nine champ car races in his career.

"Coming to Indy with an effort like the Miller Lite team is all a driver can ask for," said Vasser. "I've raced at Indy with excellent teams and this effort will be one of the best in the garage area. Now we have to work hard to beat the best."

This year's Indy 500 will be the debut of Letterman as a car owner in the Indy 500, a race he visited numerous times as a child growing up in the Indianapolis area.

"It's a thrill to be a part of this great event and participate in one of the greatest sports stadiums in the world," said Letterman.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Danny Sullivan