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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Four For Dreyer & Reinbold at Indy

For the second year in a row, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will campaign a quartet of Dallara-Hondas in an Indianapolis 500, with the announcement of fourth driver Ana Beatriz.

Beatriz, who drove the team's No. 23 car in the season-opening event on the streets of Sao Paulo, will return to the team in its No. 25 for Indy. Tomas Scheckter will drive the No. 23 with backing from Mona Vie. Justin Wilson and Mike Conway will be at the helm of their usual rides, the No. 22 and No. 24 cars. Only Conway returns to the team from last year's 500.

Last year, the team provided rides for Conway and Milka Duno, with partnerships with Kingdom Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports providing funding for Davey Hamilton and John Andretti, respectively. All four cars struggled heading up to the race, with only Hamilton qualifying before Bump Day. Conway started 27th, Andretti qualified 28th, and Duno began the race in 30th.

The race itself was not much better for the team, with Conway, Andretti, and Duno placing 18th, 19th, and 20th. Conway and Andretti were the final cars on the lead lap, while Duno was the first car to finish a lap down. Hamilton placed 29th after a single-car accident 79 laps into the race ended his day.

Undeterred by last year's struggles, however, DRR will attempt to qualify four cars without any team-to-team partnerships this year. Hamilton and Andretti have taken their personal sponsorship packages for the month of May elsewhere, to de Ferran-Luczo Dragon Racing and Andretti Autosport, respectively, allowing Scheckter and Beatriz to step in.

Unlike last year's ringers, Scheckter and Beatriz are quite familiar with DRR. Scheckter's season began at Indy for another team last year, where he qualified 26th and finished an impressive 12th with Dale Coyne Racing. But that result led DRR to snap him up for a ten-race schedule over the rest of the year, with a best finish of sixth coming at Iowa. Scheckter hopes that another strong Indy run will do the same for him this year.

Beatriz finished 13th at Sao Paulo following two successful seasons in Firestone Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. She won one race each year, finishing third in points in 2008 and eighth last year. She finished fifth at the Freedom 100, Indianapolis' Lights race, in 2008, but was injured in a crash there last year.

This year, Wilson sits 6th in points through five races, while Conway ranks 15th. Wilson's highlights of the year have been runner-up placings at St. Petersburg and Long Beach, while Conway has three top-10s, with a best run of eighth at Sao Paulo. Conway's improvement has been marked; through five races last year, his only finish came at Indy, but thus far this year he has only one DNF, after a daring move on Rafa Matos at St. Pete put him in the wall.

Rookie orientation, which Beatriz must pass to attempt to qualify for the race, will take place May 15-16, with IZOD IndyCar Series teams beginning practice on those days as well. Qualifying will take place the following weekend, May 22-23.

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