IPS: Gateway: Curtis Francois to make debut

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2002 -- Open-wheel veteran and St. Louis native Curtis Francois will make his Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series debut Aug. 25 at Gateway International Raceway. Francois will drive the No. 9 Budweiser Racing/Sam ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2002 -- Open-wheel veteran and St. Louis native Curtis Francois will make his Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series debut Aug. 25 at Gateway International Raceway.

Francois will drive the No. 9 Budweiser Racing/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone in the Gateway 100.

"I have probably competed in well over 100 events at Gateway but nothing as prestigious as this event," said Francois, who has earned victories in SCCA FF2000 competition at the St. Louis-area facility. "Budweiser and Ray Parsons have given me an incredible opportunity for which I am extremely grateful."

Francois' first experience in a 450-horsepower Infiniti Pro Series car came last week during testing at the 1.25-mile Gateway oval.

"The test session was great," Francois said. "There is definitely a learning curve going from road course to oval, but the Sam Schmidt team has the Budweiser car set up great for this race, and I know this track well enough that I feel very comfortable out there."

A local company backs the local driver: Budweiser, the world's best-selling beer, is brewed by St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

Francois, 38, a 1993 graduate of the University of Missouri, is a veteran of SCCA Sports 2000 and FF2000 competition. In 2002, he teamed with co-drivers Jeff Clinton, Jeff Tillman and Larry Connor in an Archangel Motorsports SRP II Nissan/Lola to finish fourth in class at the Rolex 24 endurance classic at Daytona.

Other drivers joining Francois in the Infiniti Pro Series include points leader A.J. Foyt IV, grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt; Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk; short-track standouts Aaron Fike, Ed Carpenter and Ronnie Johncox, and Nashville race winner Cory Witherill.

The Gateway race, the fifth of seven in the series this year, will be broadcast at 6 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 19 on ESPN2.

-irl/ips

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Cory Witherill , A.J. Foyt IV , Larry Connor , Sam Schmidt , Jeff Clinton , Jeff Tillman , Curtis Francois , Aaron Fike , Ed Carpenter , Arie Luyendyk Jr.