Andretti returns to Indy

Jeff Andretti will return to Indy car racing for the first time since 1994, driving an IRL Dallara race car owned by Derrick Walker beginning with the Atlanta 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 15.

Andretti returns to Indy

The 36-year-old youngest son of Mario Andretti returns to open-wheel racing with primary sponsorship from Emlrockfort, a company that produces film, video, music and multi-media presentations. Andretti is a member of the company's board of directors.

Jeff Andretti suffered crippling injuries in a crash in the 1992 Indianapolis 500 when a wheel hub sheered off the car, sending it slamming into the second turn. Doctors worked seven hours to save Andretti's feet and narrowly avoided needing to amputate.

Andretti, the 1991 Indy 500 rookie of the year, last raced in the 500 in 1993, when he finished 29th. His last Indy effort was in 1994, when he failed to qualify after blowing an engine on the final day of time trials. He drove in the North American Touring Car Series in 1996 and 1997. Last year, he ran a limited schedule in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series. But he said NASCAR racing doesn't suit him.

"I think it was really the weight of the vehicle. And how you drive those vehicles is totally opposite of how you drive an open wheel car," Andretti said. "It got to a point where I said, "What am I am doing here? I don't want to do this.' It didn't suit my type of racing.

"We're back in open wheel racing, where I wanted to be. It's nice to be back at Indianapolis. People will say, "Well, why aren't you in CART versus IRL? I'm not trying to make a political statement. This is an opportunity for me. You can't pass these opportunities up. I'm on this side and my brother is on the other side. So I guess fans are going to get Andrettis in both areas."

Andretti has gained a team mate in joining Walker, the 19-year-old Indy rookie Sarah Fisher. Fisher starts 19th in Sunday's 84th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Although his father Mario has criticized female drivers, Andretti said he has a lot of respect for Fisher.

"I think Sarah is a very talented driver," Andretti said. "To come right out of midgets and jump into a car of this horsepower-she was able to adapt really well. And she's certainly shown tremendous maturity."

Andretti hopes to begin testing his Dallara next month. Walker claims the biggest challenge at this point is not equipment, but finding enough good mechanics and team members to field a second car.

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