INDIANAPOLIS -- Newman/Haas Racing, one of the stalwarts of
the former CART series, has entered a car in the Indianapolis
Bruno Junqueira, a former Indy pole winner, tested an IRL G
Force at Milwaukee in September and is expected to be behind the
wheel at Indianapolis, although no drivers or car specifications
were listed on the entry, which included an entry for a backup car.
"We're still working on that,'' Newman/Haas spokeswoman Kathi
Lauterbach said Tuesday. "All of that will probably be confirmed
in the next two weeks.''
The Champ Car season opens April 18 in Long Beach, Calif. Its
next race will be in Monterrey, Mexico, on May 23, the same day as
the final qualifications at Indianapolis. The Indy 500 is May 30.
Junqueira, the CART runner-up last year, and Sebastien Bourdais,
who was rookie of the year, are the regular drivers for Newman/Haas
in the new Champ Car series that replaced the bankrupt CART.
"They had purchased an IRL chassis late last winter and tested
on their own a few times,'' IRL spokesman John Griffin said
The race would be the team's 14th at Indianapolis but the first
since 1995, the year before speedway president Tony George launched
the IRL. The best finish for Newman/Haas at Indianapolis was second
place by Mario Andretti in 1985.
"Certainly the Haas name dates back quite a while at this
Speedway,'' Griffin said. "Carl (Haas) has a long history in
motorsports and a lot of people are looking forward to seeing him
walk along Gasoline Alley again.''
Also making an official entry was Access Motorsports
for owner-driver Greg Ray, a former Indy pole winner and IRL series
Other entries postmarked before the March 31 deadline would be
accepted, although none are expected, Speedway spokesman Ron Green
"We hope to get a final list Wednesday, but we're not
anticipating any more,'' Green said.
More than 60 cars are entered so far, though the IRL has not released its official entry list yet. The
fastest 33 in qualifications May 15-16 and May 23 will start the
Ray, the series champion in 1999, started from the pole in 2000.
He's a co-owner of Access Motorsports and will drive a G
Force-Honda in an attempt to make his eighth start at Indy. Ray's
best finish was eighth last year.
The only former Indy winners entered are Al Unser Jr., who won
in 1992 and 1994, and Helio Castroneves, the winner in 2001 and
2002. Last year's winner, Gil de Ferran, retired and has been
replaced by Sam Hornish Jr. as Castroneves' teammate with Team
Another former winner, Eddie Cheever, has not officially retired
but is concentrating on running his team with Alex Barron and
rookie Ed Carpenter as the drivers.
Carpenter, George's stepson, is one of five rookies entered. The
others are England's Darren Manning and Mark Taylor, Japan's Kosuke
Matsuura, and Canada's Marty Roth, a 45-year-old driver in the
IRL's developmental Infiniti Pro Series.