Yasukawa Joins Indy Field
May 15, 2007 | 10:30 A.M. EST
"Roger did a great job for us in 2005 and we are excited to have him back with us this year," said team co-owner, Dennis Reinbold, whose team qualified 2004 Indianapolis champion Buddy Rice and three-time Most Popular Driver Sarah Fisher on Sunday afternoon, May 13, for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500. "This is the first time we have ever been a three-car team heading into the Indy 500 and we are excited about that."
Yasukawa ran his first full IndyCar Series schedule in 2003 for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, finishing 12th in the IndyCar Series points championship with eight top-10 finishes, and was the runner-up to Dan Weldon in the Rookie of the Year title run. He ran two races for Rahal Letterman Racing in 2004, finishing 10th and 11th at Indianapolis and Motegi. Two of his four Indy 500 runs have both resulted with top-10 finishes.
"I’m really excited to be back in the Indy 500," said Yasukawa, who gained 12 positions in last year’s Indianapolis 500 for Playa Del Racing. "I looked at a number of options and Dreyer & Reinbold was the best place with the best opportunity to do well; it just makes sense. I was at DRR in 2005 and worked with a lot of the Fernandez guys in 2003 so the whole synergy is really great. I really want to thank Derek Wellman of Wellman-Corbier Custom Homes, Dennis Reinbold, Honda and everyone at the Indy Racing League for helping to make this thing happen. We’re excited to get out there and work on the race setup and definitely will be the quickest of the second week group. The best qualifying we can hope for is 23rd but that’s not going to matter too much for the race as I know DRR has a really good race setup. I worked with Buddy [Rice] when he won the race here in 2004 and have known him since I was a kid. With Sarah [Fisher], I got to know her pretty well when I ran for Dennis back in 2005. I’m really looking forward to working with both of them and I think we will have good chemistry. I’m really looking forward to this program and hope I can help the team with the race setup. I needed something that was going to reboot my career so I need to go out there and drive really hard to make sure we are going to be finishing top-ten."
Fluent in English, Japanese, and Italian, the Los Angeles born Yasukawa attended school in Japan, U.S. and Italy. He began racing karts in 1991, before working his way through the Barber Dodge Western Series claiming the 1998 Series Championship, Barber Dodge Pro Series 1999 Rookie of the Year title, and competing in the Toyota Atlantics.
Along with Yasukawa, DRR also welcomed Wellman-Corbier Custom Homes as the primary sponsor for the effort. Wellman Custom Homes recently merged with Corbier Development to form Wellman-Corbier Custom Homes, builders of upscale homes and developments.
"Our company shares the local tie to Indianapolis just like Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Wellman-Corbier Custom Homes is looking forward to teaming with them in this year’s Indianapolis 500," said Wellman, who first sponsored a car in the IndyCar Series in 2006. "Using motorsports to promote our newly merged company will be the perfect marketing platform for us. Some of our vendors will also join us in this sponsorship effort and we look forward to strengthening our relationships with those partners. The amount of chemistry within the DRR team is really what impressed me and encouraged me to consider working with them. We are truly honored to have the opportunity to team with Dennis, Roger and the entire crew at DRR for this year’s ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’"
DRR will internally engineer Yasukawa’s car with Ivan Koldsgaard stepping up to the lead engineering role. Koldsgaard has over 13 years of experience in motorsports from the Formula 2000 Series to the Champ Car World Series. He began his motorsports career after attending the Bridgestone Racing School in Shannonville, Ontario, Canada—his native country. He spent three years on the Champ Car World Series Circuit as a data/shock engineer for Andrian Fernandez Racing before joining their IndyCar operation where he spent the past six seasons.
"I worked with Roger in 2003 when Rice’s engineer, JD [John Dick], engineered his car," said Koldsgaard, who was previously Buddy Rice’s fuel strategist. "Roger has definitely matured as a driver and I’m looking forward to working with him this month. Coming into the IndyCar Series is definitely a tall order and his race craft has improved with the experience he has gained on the track. I really look forward to working with him this month and getting a solid finish. This is a new experience for me so I’m looking forward to the challenge. The best part is that I will have the support of the entire Dreyer & Reinbold organization behind me."
Yasukawa will have the opportunity to join the field for practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons from 12:00-6:00 p.m. EST before attempting to qualify on Saturday and Sunday afternoon to secure one of the coveted 33 spots for the IndyCar Series hallmark event.
The greatest spectacle in racing, the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500, is set for Sunday, May 27, with a 12 p.m. EST start. The Indy 500 will be the fifth race on the 17-race IndyCar Series circuit. The famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway will play host to the signature race with coverage throughout the month provided by ABC, ESPN, the IMS Radio Network, and XM Satellite Radio.