Indianapolis, Ind. (May 25, 2013) – When the green flag flies on Sunday afternoon for the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, no fewer than five former winners of the (Allen Berg Racing Schools supported) ‘Team USA Scholarship’ will be among the starting field of 33 – and two more will be seeking victory as team owners.
AJ Allmendinger, JR Hildebrand, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly – as well as team co-owners Jimmy Vasser (KV Racing Technology) and Bryan Herta (Barracuda Racing/BHA) – all have their eyes set firmly on emulating Buddy Rice, who became the first Team USA graduate to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 2004, securing the first of Honda’s 10 consecutive victories while driving for Rahal Letterman Racing.
Herta also claimed a storybook victory as a team owner in 2011. Ironically, Herta’s triumph with the late lamented Dan Wheldon and his unheralded Bryan Herta Autosport team came at the expense of Hildebrand, who crashed on the exit of the very last corner while trying to pass fellow Team USA alumni Kimball, whose car had slowed dramatically on its last dregs of fuel. A desperately disappointed Hildebrand still finished second and had the consolation of securing Rookie of the Year honors, matching Phil Giebler’s feat from 2007.
Allmendinger, who this year is making his open-wheel comeback with Penske Racing after concentrating on stock cars since 2006, won five Champ Car races in 2005 and is the only one of the five Team USA alumni in the field to have won at this level. The others all have excellent credentials, however.
In addition to his second-place Indy 500 finish in 2011, Hildebrand, who will drive the distinctive No.4 National Guard car for Panther Racing, is a former champion in both USF2000 and Firestone Indy Lights. Kimball has recorded a best IZOD IndyCar Series finish of second in Toronto last year, backed up by a strong fourth earlier this season for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team at Barber Motorsports Park.
Newgarden shone similarly at the most recent race in Sao Paulo, Brazil, challenging for the lead before settling for a fifth-place finish for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. Newgarden also won the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights Championship.
Daly will be making his INDYCAR debut on Sunday with AJ Foyt Racing but has championship titles to his name in Star Mazda (2010) and the MRF Formula in India and is a bona fide front-runner in the European-based GP3 Series which runs in support of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
Allmendinger will have the best starting position for Sunday’s race after posting the sixth fastest speed in qualifying last Saturday. Hildebrand will start 10th, Kimball 19th, Newgarden 25th and Daly 31st. “I’m just so proud of what our guys have been able to achieve,” said Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw. “All of them have worked extremely hard to make the Indy 500 starting field and are tremendous ambassadors for our sport.”
About Team USA Scholarship: The program has been providing opportunities for talented young American race car drivers since its formation in 1990. Candidates must have been racing cars for at least a year and have excelled both in and out of the car.
Allen Berg Racing Schools is the school of choice by Team USA Scholarship.