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Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Carpenter to team with Barron

Associated Press

Alex Barron
Barron
Ed Carpenter
Carpenter
INDIANAPOLIS -- Super sub Alex Barron and rookie Ed Carpenter will drive this year for Red Bull Cheever Racing, which is expanding to become a two-car team.

It could grow to three cars if team owner Eddie Cheever decides to drive. The 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion gave up his seat last year to concentrate on running the team with rookie Buddy Rice behind the wheel.

"He has not said whether he'll get back in the car or not,'' spokeswoman Ashley Miller said of Cheever. "He's still keeping it open. It's always a possibility.''

Cheever said last year that he would not drive again until his struggling team is in a position to win in the IRL. The team was 15th last season in IRL entrant points and failed to post a top-five finish.

Still, Cheever was optimistic Tuesday about prospects for 2004.

"GM ended on a really strong note last year,'' said Cheever, who began using a new Chevrolet engine late in the season. "Not only are we expanding to a two-car team, we're doing it with two of the best American open-wheel drivers out there.''

The 2004 season begins Feb. 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The 33-year-old Barron was everyone's favorite fill-in last year, subbing in various races with different teams for injured Gil de Ferran, Arie Luyendyk and Felipe Giaffone. His only victory was with Mo Nunn Racing at Michigan International Speedway in place of Giaffone.

Barron joined Cheever for the final three races of the season, posting a top finish of seventh at Chicagoland Speedway.

"I'm really looking forward to having a full-time ride,'' Barron said. "The crew has already been working so hard to prepare for the season.''

Carpenter, the 22-year-old stepson of IRL and Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George, drove in the developmental Infiniti Pro Series and in three IRL races for PDM Racing last year.

He said Cheever has been a racing mentor "throughout my entire career.''

"Being teammates with an experienced driver like Alex Barron will be a great advantage for me,'' Carpenter said.