Wattles Returning Next Season

Stan Wattles has parlayed his one-race appearance with Hemelgarn Racing into a full-time gig in 2001.

Ron Hemelgarn announced late Friday afternoon that Wattles would join the team, starting with the season-opener at Phoenix International Raceway on March 18.

"I was very impressed with Stan's performance at the 84th running of the Indianapolis 500," said Hemelgarn, who won the 2000 IRNLS title with driver Buddy Lazier. "Stan showed me he has tremendous ability after qualifying eighth and posting the second fastest lap of the race.

"I believe that great results will follow with consistency and laps."

Wattles sees the ride with Hemelgarn as his best chance to shine in the IRNLS.

"I can't tell you how excited I am," said Wattles, who made just three IRNLS starts in the past two seasons. "To be involved with such a first class operation is an honor. I've had some solid opportunities in the past but this could be the one I've been waiting for. I mean, this team just won the IRL championship and now I have the opportunity to work with Lee Kunzman, Buddy Lazier and the entire Hemelgarn crew.

"I'm looking forward to working with Buddy and learning from his experiences as we both set our sights on next year's championship, as well as the Indianapolis 500."

Wattles’ best finish in IRNLS competition is an eighth at Las Vegas in 1997. His best start is also eighth, achieved this year at the Indy 500 and in the first-ever IRNLS race in 1996 at Walt Disney World.

Metro Racing Systems will move their facilities to Indianapolis and operate out of the Hemelgarn shop. Several mechanics that have prepared Wattles' cars in the past will team up with the experienced Hemelgarn crew.

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