Roth Racing hires former Indy Pro Champ Howard for '08

Updated: November 28, 2007, 6:41 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Roth Racing, the first team to take advantage of the Indy Racing League's new incentive program, has hired former Indy Pro Series champion Jay Howard for the entire 16-race season in 2008.

He will join team owner-driver Marty Roth in the new two-car operation.

"These partial seasons are very difficult and we focused our efforts this year on marketing and building the team from that standpoint rather than running around the track," Roth said Wednesday. "Since Indy [in May], we've been developing a plan to expand and go with a two-car program because they are just so much stronger as far as team performance. Jay Howard was just a natural fit."

In an effort to draw more participation, the IRL announced a new purse structure in October, guaranteeing at least $1.2 million for each car competing the entire schedule.

Howard was the 2006 Indy Pro Series champion and drove in three IndyCar races last season. Roth, also a graduate of the IRL's developmental program, has made only nine IndyCar starts. The team recently moved its Indianapolis operation to the former Tony Stewart Racing facility and hired veteran race engineer David Cripps.

"I couldn't have asked to walk into a better situation," Howard said. "Marty definitely is a man of his word and he definitely is 110 percent into this. It might take a year for everyone to sort of settle in and me get more experience with things like pit stops, but I've been training unbelievably hard. I'm really fired up."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press