Kite PDM Join Forces For Indianapolis 500

Veteran IndyCar Series driver Jimmy Kite will drive PDM Racing’s No. 18 PDM Racing Honda-powered Panoz in the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500, team owner Paul Diatlovich announced May 4.

"This is the third time that I have raced with PDM at the Speedway, which is kind of a record for me," said Kite, a native of Stockbridge, Ga., now living in Missouri. "I really have to thank Paul and all the guys at PDM for believing in me and what I can bring, on the track, to the program. We know we won't be challenging for fastest lap, probably not even fastest on the second weekend, but I feel pretty good about the kind of race car that we will have. Paul has always given me a good car and it is exciting to be back at the Speedway with PDM."

Kite first joined PDM in 2002 but Bump Day qualifying was shortened by a late afternoon rain. As the 6 p.m. gun rang-out, Kite sat next in line to make an attempt.

The combination had better results in 2003 when Kite qualified 32nd, the middle of the three-person final row, but fought his way up to finish 13th, his second-highest career finish in the "500" and the most positions gained in that year's event.

"This is an opportunity for PDM Racing," Diatlovich said. "By investing this kind of time, money and effort into a program, I need a capable gunfighter in the car. There is no one out there that I'd rather have in the car than Jimmy Kite. I have been fortunate to work with some of the best over my career; guys like (Emerson) Fittipaldi, (Tom) Sneva, and (Sam) Hornish (Jr.), and Jimmy is on even par with any of those guys at this facility."

PDM Racing, which dates back to 1996, is one of the few original IndyCar Series teams still in operation. The team has entered the Indy 500 every year since its inception. Kite's No. 18, a number long associated with the team, will be overseen by veteran chief mechanic Rob Stark. The car is maintained in Indianapolis at the famous Leader Card Racers' shop owned by the legendary A.J. Watson.

"Paul is taking a big gamble," Kite said. "He doesn't have all the funding in place and he has turned away guys with money because he believes in me and what we can do together. That is huge for me. It really builds up your confidence."

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