Driver for race yet to be named

Updated: April 6, 2004, 8:52 PM ET
Associated Press

Paul Newman
INDIANAPOLIS -- Newman/Haas Racing, one of the stalwarts of the former CART series, has entered a car in the Indianapolis 500.

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 Tuesday.

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 champion.

Other entries postmarked before the March 31 deadline would be accepted, although none are expected, Speedway spokesman Ron Green said.

"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 race.

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 Penske.

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press