Heritage Turns To Infiniti

When the Indy Racing Northern Light Series postponed its season-ending Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to this weekend because of the terrorist attacks on the United States, it made it impossible for former Formula One driver Johnny Herbert to make his debut with Heritage Motorsports in the IRNLS.

The change in schedule also meant Heritage would be unable to test run the Infiniti engine as it had hoped to do with Herbert in the No. 36 G Force-Infiniti. Herbert, a full-time driver in the American LeMans Series, had already committed to a race this weekend.

Now, Heritage has decided that primary driver Jeff Ward will utilize the Infiniti 35A engine this weekend as the team continues to prepare for 2002.

“I am really looking forward to racing with the Infiniti engine,” said Ward, who will drive the No. 35 G Force-Infiniti this weekend. “We have tested the Infiniti engine three times now, at Kentucky, Chicago, and Texas. I am very impressed with the power and the higher torque-band of the engine.”

Heritage’s decision brings the number of drivers using the Infiniti to four. Robbie Buhl and Eddie Cheever Jr. have been carrying the engine all season, and A.J. Foyt Enterprises announced a couple of weeks ago that it would use the Infiniti for Greg Ray.

It is the first time since the 1997 Indianapolis 500 that more than three drivers have competed in a race with the Infiniti engine.

The change in attitude seems to stem from the improved Infiniti 53A engine, which was introduced this season and has powered Cheever to a victory and six top-three starts. In addition, Cheever and Buhl have been running well, with Buhl in contention to win the Indy 500 until a late accident.

“I have also noticed the strong performance of the engine this year with Robbie and Eddie,” Ward said. “It will be a good engine to have at Texas because of the draft that you have there.

"We haven't been in traffic with this engine, so I am not sure how it will pull with other cars around. We will focus on that when we start practice on Friday. We will be on a steep learning curve to get ready for the race.”

The IRNLS season finale at Texas Motor Speedway will be televised live on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (ET) Saturday. Qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. (ET) on Friday.

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