for 2009 IndyCar Championship
HUNTER-REAY TO DRIVE NO. 21 HONDA / FIRESTONE / DALLARA
Vision Racing is pleased to announce the addition of race winning IndyCar Series driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay to the team's 2009 driver lineup that includes returning pilot and fellow American, Ed Carpenter.
Hunter-Reay, who won on the road course at Watkins Glen International last season and claimed IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2007 after just six starts, will drive the team's No. 21 Dallara / Honda / Firestone machine. A savvy open-wheel veteran, Hunter-Reay is the only driver to have won races under each of the CART, Champ Car and Indy Racing League banners. As a testimony to his driving talent, his three (3) career wins were earned on each of the different disciplines that IndyCar racing provides; road course win at Watkins Glen (2008 IndyCar), oval win at Milwaukee (2004 Champ Car), and street course win in Surfer's Paradise (2003 CART).
Vision Racing co-owner Tony George is pleased with the opportunity to add such talent to his team.
"While the timing and circumstances surrounding Ryan's arrival at Vision Racing have been less the ideal given that we are just a few days from the season-opener at St. Pete, the opportunity to welcome such a proficient driver and individual to the team was more than favorable," said George of the addition of Hunter-Reay for the Honda Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg and the balance of the 2009 IndyCar season.
George added, "The accomplishments that Ryan has achieved in the short time that he's driven in the IndyCar Series, speaks to the kind of talent and ability he possesses. Rather than have him watching from the sidelines or driving against us, it only made sense to bring him into our operation for the 2009 season. With Ryan now joining Ed [Carpenter], we have a driver lineup that is more than capable of helping the team grow in its fifth season and capture the team's first victory."
Hunter-Reay has a total of 23 starts in the IndyCar Series (2007-2008) which have produced one win, two top-five finishes, 13 top-10s, 13 laps led and additional Rookie of the Year recognition in the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 after spending 1½-seasons with Rahal-Letterman Racing. In addition to a victory at Watkins Glen last year, Hunter-Reay backed up that performance with a second podium finish and a third place run in the season-finale at Surfers Paradise, Australia.
Proving himself as a worthy and capable driver, Hunter-Reay is excited to achieve additional success at Vision Racing. Hunter-Reay noted, "From a competition standpoint, Vision Racing has what it takes to win races and that's what matters the most to me and the entire team. I cannot say enough about Vision's level of professionalism or their determination to put a competitive car on the track at St. Pete, despite the narrow timeframe. I am really looking forward to working with Ed as a teammate. Last season, Ed and the entire 20 team were very fast and a threat to win at quite a few tracks. St. Petersburg will definitely be an acclimation period for us, but our expectations are very high. We are going to work really hard this season and I can't wait to get the job started."
Official apparel sponsor for the IndyCar Series, IZOD, will continue a relationship established last season with Hunter-Reay as a personal sponsor that will follow him to Vision Racing.
We couldn't be happier for Ryan," said Mike Kelly, senior vice president of marketing for Phillips-Van Heusen. "He is an integral part of our IZOD INDY campaign as he represents the bold determination and active lifestyle of IZOD. The IZOD brand represents Americana and that makes our association with Ryan and Vision Racing a perfect fit."
Sponsorship branding on the No.21 machine is still in the development stages with formal announcements expected to be made following the first IndyCar Series race of the 2009 season.
After a long off-season of uncertainty regarding a team destination, Hunter-Reay was offered the opportunity of some seat time with fellow IndyCar Series competitor, HVM Racing, in a private test at Sebring International Raceway. Just hours following the test, Hunter-Reay and Vision Racing began the process of negotiating an agreement for the entire 2009 season.
"This is a huge opportunity on so many levels," Hunter-Reay said. "I am very grateful to Laura and Tony George for their confidence in me and making this a reality. Throughout the off-season, I have been working closely with Terry Angstadt's commercial and marketing staff at IndyCar and the great folks at IZOD, relentlessly attacking this thing from every angle; my sincere appreciation to all involved."
While currently a resident of Dana Point, Calif., Hunter-Reay claims Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. as his hometown, and the 28-year-old will have the opportunity to return to his home state for the opening round of IndyCar Series competition this coming weekend in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Watch Hunter-Reay drive for his new team, Vision Racing; along with new teammate, Carpenter; on the streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday, April 5th at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on VERSUS. You can also follow the 100 lap/180 mile event on the IMS Radio Network and on the web at IndyCar.com.