Herta To Drive For Franchitti

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Beginning at this weekend’s Suntrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway, open-wheel veteran Bryan Herta will assume the driving duties in the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the ten remaining Indy Racing League IndyCar Series events on the 2003 schedule.

Herta will replace Dario Franchitti, who announced last week that he will undergo back surgery and will be forced to miss the rest of the season.

"This is an unexpected surprise," said Herta. "It was a shock to find out about Dario, but I’m glad I have a relationship with Andretti Green Racing and that I got the call."

Herta, a Michigan native and California resident, substituted for Franchitti at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7 and finished fifth in his IndyCar Series debut. Saturday’s 250-lap race at Richmond will mark his second career IndyCar Series start and second at night.

"I like these night races, it gives me a chance to sleep in," said Herta. "I have never raced at Richmond and it is only a two-day show, so there is very limited track time. The team has tested there and Tony (Kanaan) found some things, so I think we will be alright. I would be more worried if working with the team was completely new, but after working with them in May and at Texas I know if we can unload a good car off the trailer, we will be fine."

Herta has two wins and seven poles in an eight-year Champ Car career. He also claimed the 1993 Indy Lights championship and 1991 Barber Saab Pro Series titles. In 2002 he was behind the wheel of the Panoz LMP 01 in the American LeMans Series where he finished 10 th in the drivers’ standings.

"Bryan did a great job for us in testing and during the race at Texas," said Michael Andretti, Andretti Green Racing owner. "He fits in well with the team and with Tony (Kanaan) and Dan (Wheldon). One of the things that makes our team successful is the relationship and trust each of the drivers have with one another. With one race and a couple of tests under his belt with AGR, Bryan has shown he works well in that environment."

Qualifying for the Suntrust Indy Challenge will take place on Friday at 5:30 p.m. (EDT). The race is set for Saturday night at 8 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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