IRL: The secret to Heritage Motorsports early success

(Indianapolis, IN) In its inaugural year, Heritage Motorsports has taken on the INDY Racing League with a vengeance. Coming together just 100 days ago, the team already has two top 10 finishes and a pole to its credit and is looking to improve...

(Indianapolis, IN) In its inaugural year, Heritage Motorsports has taken on the INDY Racing League with a vengeance. Coming together just 100 days ago, the team already has two top 10 finishes and a pole to its credit and is looking to improve its record in Atlanta.

The Heritage Motorsports group is turning heads around the league. In only their second race together, the team stunned the racing community, winning the pole in Miami by over 1.5 miles per hour and leading the race for 43 laps. So, what's the secret to Heritage Motorsports' early success? Experience is the key to winning in the IRL, according to the Heritage Motorsports team.

"Personnel is everything," said co-owner, Jim Rathmann, Jr. "The Heritage Motorsports team has not been a unit for very long, but everyone involved in the operation has been around racing for many years. They're good at what they do, and it helps that most of the crew has worked together before at some point."

Heritage Motorsports came together in mid-January due to the determination of crew chief Mitch Davis and driver Jeff Ward, who had previously worked together three times in the IRL. Davis and Ward approached Jim Rathmann, Jr. and his business colleague John Mecom III about setting up a team, and Heritage Motorsports emerged.

But, what they created has proved to be no ordinary team.

The Heritage Motorsports team boasts over 100 years of previous racing experience, including two Indy 500 victories in the 1960s by the Mecom and Rathmann families.

"We have put together the ideal package for the INDY Racing League," Ward. "Everyone involved in this team contributes something unique. Everyone brings his own stories and experiences. When you have a group as special as this, you begin to form a family within the team, and that's when good things really begin to happen."

Heritage Motorsports is using its early success to make plans for the future, according to Ward. Coupled with the growth of the IRL in the past year, the team is using their previous experience in motorsports to create winning results down the road.

"We saw an opportunity with the INDY Racing League to put together a premier open wheel racing team, and that's exactly what we've done," said John Mecom III, co-owner of Heritage Motorsports. "We've brought together a talented group of guys, most of them have been working in the IRL since its inception. We're striving to become the dominant team in the IRL." With their previous experience and abundance of confidence, Heritage Motorsports has made their presence known early to the INDY Racing League. And, the team has no plans to slow down their impressive pace.

"We've produced exciting results, early," said Ward. "Starting as late as we did, we were really behind most of the other teams in the league, but we get better each time we're on the track. We keep making up ground, quickly, and we're getting very close to our first win. With a new team, you have to have that kind of confidence going into each race."

Heritage Motorsports short-term results have been nothing less than amazing. The team ranks fourth in points and third in winnings, after a fifth place finish in Miami and a seventh place finish in Phoenix. And, they're looking to continue their hot streak with a win in Atlanta.

"This team has such a great story and so much potential," said Ward. "I'm really expecting exciting things for us. We'd like to take a win at Atlanta into Indy with us. We have all the key pieces to run up front, and if we can get everything to fit together for us in Atlanta, we will finish first."

The Heritage Motorsports team will compete April 28 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway at 7 p.m.

JEFF WARD

Jeff in Atlanta

"I enjoy the night races, because I have all day to relax and focus for the race. And, I think with the race being at night under the lights, it makes for a more spectacular race for the fans."

"In Atlanta, drivers can easily get side by side. Atlanta hides the car's handling problems so you can drive anywhere on the track. You can take the car flat out all the way around the track, because the banking is so high."

"I think that Miami gave the whole team some new confidence, but we're not taking a lot information from that race into Atlanta. Mitch Davis (Heritage Motorsports crew chief) and I have raced here before, so we know how we want to run the car. We're going to have a good weekend in Atlanta to carrying us into Indy." <pre> Jeff Ward Atlanta Motor Speedway Indy Racing League Northern Light Series History Year 2000 1999 1998 Averages S/F 4/19 8/26 2/6 4/17 LC/TL 123/208 83/208 208/208 138/208 Status Engine Accident Running </pre> Going into Indy

The Heritage Motorsports team tested at Indy the week before racing at Atlanta.

"This team improves each weekend as we get more time under our belt. And the more practice time we get together, especially in Indy, will only produce more exciting results."

"While testing in Indy, we base lined the car's set-up for race day, but we also really concentrated on trimming up the car to run for the pole," said Mitch Davis, Heritage Motorsports crew chief. "Now, we know how much work we still have to qualify on the pole."

Jeff Ward Appearance

Ward will sign autographs from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlanta on Thursday, April 26th <pre> Jeff Ward Indy Racing Northern Light Series 2001 Statistics Date Track Start Finish LC/TL March 18 Phoenix 3 7 199/200 April 8 Homestead 1 5 199/200

Starts    Wins    Poles    Top Fives   Top Tens      Winnings     Points
  2        0        1         1           1          $120,700      56

Jeff Ward Current Standings Points Winnings Laps Led Laps Completed Fourth Third Third Third

Indy Racing League Northern Light Series Career Statistical Breakdown Starts Wins Poles Top Fives Top Tens Winnings 35 0 2 10 16 $2,963,855

-HM-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Ward