IRL: Rice's Victory Tour takes Bite of Big Apple

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 2, 2004 -- Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice gave talk-show host Kelly Ripa and NASCAR champion driver Jeff Gordon an up close view of his No. 15 Rahal Letterman Argent/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone on June...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 2, 2004 -- Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice gave talk-show host Kelly Ripa and NASCAR champion driver Jeff Gordon an up close view of his No. 15 Rahal Letterman Argent/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone on June 2.

"How does a human being fit in there?" Ripa said before sliding into the cockpit of the car during Rice's appearance on the popular morning talk show "Live with Regis and Kelly." Gordon served as Ripa's guest co-host for the show in place of regular host Regis Philbin.

"Buddy, do I have to keep my hands in here at 10 and 2?" Ripa quipped. "It feels very comfortable. I could fall asleep in here."

The appearance was part of Rice's Indianapolis 500 Victory Tour, which will take him to Washington D.C. and Richmond, Va., on June 3 and Fort Worth, Texas on June 4.

In addition to his morning show appearance in New York, Rice rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange and threw out the first pitch at the New York Yankees game with the Baltimore Orioles on June 1.

"It's great to be in a place with so much history. A lot of great players played here, and still do," Rice told the Associated Press from Yankee Stadium.

Rice chatted with former Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson, about Ferraris, posed for a picture with Derek Jeter and got a big thank you from Miguel Cairo, who won the Yankees' Indianapolis 500 pool by selecting Rice.

Yankees manager Joe Torre, Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera and Jeter all stopped by outside the locker- room to offer congratulations.

Rice will return to New York on June 9 to appear on the late-night talk show of his team co-owner David Letterman.

"Dave, I've never seen him speechless that I know of," Rice told Ripa and Gordon. "He didn't have a whole lot to say. The things he did say, I can't say on TV."

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The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the Bombardier 500K at 8 p.m. (EDT) on June 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series Aventis Racing for Kids 100 will take place at July 4 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) on July 4 by ESPN2.

-irl-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Buddy Rice