Guerrero Returns In Kentucky
August 17, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Guerrero was last behind the wheel of an IRNLS car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, when he attempted to qualify one of A.J. Foyt’s cars for the Indianapolis 500.
Team Coulson owner Corey Coulson told RacingOne.com that he has had his eye on Guerrero since the two met at Indianapolis. Guerrero and Coulson talked again at Atlanta, and the wheels were set in motion for the deal.
"We kept in contact and he called me up, and we put a little deal together," Coulson said. "We needed a veteran driver since we’re a new team."
The relationship between Coulson and Guerrero is open-ended, with the team’s performance at Kentucky determining whether they head to the season finale at Texas in October.
"We’ll see how we come out of this race because there’s no sponsor," said Coulson from the team’s headquarters in Money Creek, Minn. "We want to finish the race. That’s paramount for us.
"If we finish the race, we fully intend to run Texas."
Guerrero will be driving the No. 40 1999 G Force-Aurora that Stephan Gregoire piloted in the IRNLS last season. Coulson purchased the car from Dick Simon, and it is still painted in the Meximel colors featured on Gregoire’s car this year.
Team Coulson, like Guerrero, tried and failed to qualify for the Indy 500 with Davy Jones. Jones got the car into the 33-car field but was bumped.
Between now and then, Coulson’s wife died in a freak accident on the couple’s farm. That -- understandably -- put racing on the back burner.
"We’re looking forward to getting back out," Coulson said. "It’s been a long haul."
And Coulson said coming back with a driver like Guerrero is "huge step in the right direction."
Guerrero has been a part of the IRNLS off and on since Tony George first formed the series in 1996. Guerrero’s best finish in Indy Racing League competition is second in the series’ debut at Walt Disney World in 1996. But Guerrero has tasted victory in CART, and he finished second to Rick Mears in the 1984 Indy 500, earning him co-rookie of the year honors with Michael Andretti.
"I’m very pleased to have him," Coulson said. "He’s a very talented driver. We’re optimistic he can do well. He’s precise and always has the most consistent laps."
"He fits in with our team real well."
Guerrero’s experience will be necessary for the team’s success. Neither he nor Team Coulson has tested at Kentucky Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval, which is featuring an IRNLS race for the first time. Coulson said the team will use a basic Las Vegas-style setup that works well on a track with a lot of grip, which there will be plenty of at Kentucky.
"Like everyone, we’re hoping to run a real successful race," said Coulson, who would like to finish in the top 15. "That’s what we need."
Coulson also needs sponsors. He’s currently in negotiations with a title sponsor that would be along for the entire 2001 season. If Coulson’s previous success with finding sponsors -- Northern Light sponsored his car at Indianapolis in 1999 -- is any indication, then expect to see Team Coulson around a lot next season.