Lazier On The Move Again
September 18, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Jaques Lazier will be behind the wheel of TeamXtreme’s No. 16 at the Indy Racing Northern Light Series season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. In addition, Truscelli Team Racing will partner with TeamXtreme at the Excite 500 on Oct. 15.
"TeamXtreme is proud to have a driver the caliber of Jaques driving the number 16 freeinternet.com car," said John Lopes, Team Xtreme general manager. "This one race entry represents the combined efforts of both TeamXtreme and Joe Truscelli."
Lazier led his first laps of the year at Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 27, when he ran for Mid-America Motorsports. Lazier started the season racing for Truscelli but moved over to Mid-America when Truscelli closed shop. Mid-America owner David Didero told RacingOne.com that he hoped to retain Lazier for the remainder of the 2000 season and for 2001. But, Lazier was only on loan to Mid-America and was still under contract with Joe Truscelli and Truscelli Team Racing despite Truscelli’s inactivity. When Truscelli hooked up with TeamXtreme, Lazier was obligated to go, too.
Didero said Monday that Lazier's move was a shock but that it won't derail Mid-America.
"Jaques' deal with Trusceli is signed, sealed and delivered, and there is nothing we can do about it for this year," Didero said. "There is always next season, and that is what we are focusing on anyway."
Lazier gave credit to Mid-America when talking about his new ride.
"I appreciate the opportunity I recently had with Mid-America in Kentucky and we sure did develop a quick friendship," said Lazier, who led eight laps at Kentucky but finished 20th after his engine let go. "They’ve proven that they can be a front-running team by their performance in Kentucky. However, I remain committed to my contractual obligation with Truscelli for this season and look forward to driving the freeinternet.com G-Force and to working with a team the caliber of TeamXtreme for the season finale and, perhaps, next season.
"It’s a wonderful opportunity and I can’t wait to get in the seat."
Lopes also sees the pairing as a preview of next season.
"This race will give the 16 car a first look at what next season might have in store for TeamXtreme," Lopes said. "We have been very interested in Jaques for quite some time and I understand that several other teams are talking to him about next season. Although we do not have a deal in place for next season, Jaques has been high on our list of drivers since last year. The final race of the 2000 IRNLS season gives us a chance to work together while talking about next year."
Lazier, younger brother of IRNLS points leader Buddy Lazier, finished fourth in the rookie of the year race in 1999. He finished seventh three times -- his career best in the IRNLS -- while competing in seven of the series’ 10 races. He led two races for a total of 33 laps, which was more than all other rookies combined.
If Lazier remains with TeamXtreme next season, the pairing of Lazier and Dare will be a familiar one. Lazier and Dare were teammates in Indy Lights in 1997.
The race at Texas Motor Speedway represents a homecoming for TeamXtreme, which is based in Forth Worth, Texas, and the team can clinch an IRNLS title there in the rookie of the year battle.
Dare, driver of TeamXtreme’s No. 88, leads Jeret Schroeder by two points and Sam Hornish Jr. by 17.
As for Mid-America, Didero said he'll be at Texas with USAC driver Dan Drinan, former IRNLS driver John Hollansworth Jr. or Hamilton piloting the team's No. 43 car.
"You can prepare yourself for just about anything in racing and make last-minute changes at any time, but this decision won't be an easy one," Didero said.