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Greg Ray

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Title: Greg Ray  
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Subject: 1999 Indy Racing League season, 2000 Indy Racing League season, 2001 Indy Racing League season, 2003 IndyCar Series season, 2004 IndyCar Series season
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Greg Ray

Greg Ray
Nationality American
Born (1966-08-03) August 3, 1966
Dallas, Texas
Retired 2004
Indy Racing League IndyCar Series
Years active 1997-2004
Teams Knapp Motorsports
A. J. Foyt Enterprises
Team Menard
Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Access Motorsports
Starts 73
Wins 5
Poles 14* (does not include Charlotte 1999)
Fastest laps 0
Best finish 1st in 1999
Previous series
1992-1994
1996
Toyota Atlantic
Indy Lights
Championship titles
1999 Indy Racing League Champion

Gregory "Greg" Ray (born August 3, 1966, in Dallas, Texas) is a former IRL IndyCar Series driver.

After winning the SCCA national Formula Atlantic championship in 1993, he moved up to the CART-sanctioned Toyota Atlantic series in 1994.

In 1997 he made his Indy Racing League debut driving for Thomas Knapp in an unsponsored black #97 car. He made his mark on the series a year later during qualifying for the 1998 Indianapolis 500. Driving the same, plain, black #97, he qualified second behind A.J. Foyt's driver Billy Boat. The car attracted sponsorship from local businesses and the national anti-tobacco campaign, and became known as Ash Kicker Racing. Though he failed to finish that race, he scored several good results in subsequent races and caught the eye of successful businessman and team owner John Menard.

In 1999 he won the IRL championship on the strength of three victories. However, 2000 was a difficult season with only one victory. He qualified on pole for the Indianapolis 500 but subsequently finished last (33rd). In 2001 Ray and Menard had split, and his replacement Jaques Lazier won his first victory at the Chicagoland Speedway.

Things continued to go downhill from there, as Ray bounced around three separate cars in 2002 before starting his own team in 2003, Access Motorsports, the lone team utilizing a Panoz chassis with Honda engines. He gained sponsorship from TrimSpa but failed to light up the scoreboard and in 2004, he ran a few races before giving his seat to former Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor. The team closed at the end of the year from a lack of sponsorship.

Ray had 5 wins in his 74 IRL starts.

Contents

  • Racing career 1
    • IndyCar career 1.1
      • Early years 1.1.1
      • Championship winner 1.1.2
      • Downturn 1.1.3
      • Fielding his own cars 1.1.4

Racing career

IndyCar career

Early years

Greg Ray made his debut Indy Racing League start during the 1997 portion of the 1996-97 Indy Racing League season driving the #97 Thomas Knapp Motorsports Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora in 5 of 10 events including the Indianapolis 500 where he would finish 25th due to a water pump failure. Ray's best finish came at the True Value 500 at Texas Motor Speedway near Ray's hometown of Dallas, Texas to finish 29th-place finish in points.

For 1998 Ray would continue to drive Knapp's #97 Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora with sponsorship from Mercury Outboards and Mercury Marine for the opening rounds of the season. However, during practice for the Indianapolis 500 Knapp's team was without a sponsor. Ray would manage to qualify second between AJ Foyt Enterprises teammates Billy Boat and Kenny Brack and would gain race day sponsorship from True Value, The Nashville Network, and Ray's hometown track Texas Motor Speedway. In the race Ray led for 18 laps before retiring on lap 167 due to a gearbox failure. Ray would follow up his 500 performance with a 2nd-place finish at the True Value 500 at Texas Motor Speedway where Ray acquired sponsorship from AT&T but Knapp's teamskipped races due to a lack of sponsorship. Ray then drove a two race stint for AJ Foyt Enterprises in the #11 Conseco Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora as a replacement to the injured Billy Boat (who ironically beat Ray to the pole position at Indianapolis and the win at Texas) at the Pep Boys 400K at Dover Downs International Speedway where Ray would set fastest lap before getting taken out in a crash and the VisionAire 500K at Lowe's Motor Speedway where Ray retired with gearbox failure. Knapp then reopened his team for the final three races of the season with sponsorship from Genoa Racing and Best Access Systems but would retire from each race.

Championship winner

Knapp's team then closed its doors for good due to a lack of sponsorship but Ray was signed on to drive the #2 Glidden/Menards Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora and would take pole positions at the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix International Raceway and the VisionAire 500K at Lowe's Motor Speedway (the latter of which was cancelled due to an accident that killed three spectators). Ray would retire from the first three races beforegetting three wins at Radisson 200 and Colorado Indy 200 Presented by Deloitte & Touche both at Pikes Peak International Raceway and the MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway to get the championship (Ray's only time in the top 10 in points).

Downturn

For 2000 Ray would continue to drive for Menard in the #1 Conseco/Quaker State/Menards Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora scoring six poles in the series' nine races including the Indianapolis 500 where during the IRL's split with CART Chip Ganassi Racing, a CART team, entered a pair of cars for CART drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmy Vasser with Montoya starting second to Ray. Because of this Ray and Montoya were the favorites to win. Ray would lead 26 of the first 66 laps before crashing on lap 67 and finishing in 33rd (last) place with Montoya leading 167 of the 200 laps on his way to an easy win. Ray would go on to win the Midas 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, Ray would drop to 13th in points.

In 2001 Ray would continue to drive for Menard in the #2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora. Ray continued to be an excellent qualifier with four poles in the series' first ten races but had trouble finishing races with a win at the zMax Atlanta 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ray's relationship with Menard got even worse after the Indianapolis 500 where Ray qualified 2nd and would 40 laps before finishing 17th, 8 laps down. Ray split from Menard after the Belterra Resort Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway while Ray's replacement, Jaques Lazier won in his second race in the car at the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Ray would drive the season ending Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway returning to AJ Foyt's team in the #11 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara-Nissan Infiniti where Ray would start 13th and finish 8th in his only other top 10 of the year besides his Atlanta win.

Starting off 2002 without a ride Ray was hired to drive the #11 Harrah's Dallara-Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt Enterprises in place of the injured Eliseo Salazar. Ray made his 2002 debut at the Indianapolis 500 starting 31st and crashing after 28 laps and finishing in 33rd, last, place again. Ray continued to drive Foyt's #11 (later #41 when Salazar returned) through the Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Speedway. Ray would then drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the #20 Dallara-Chevrolet with sponsorship from Empress Casino and Young Chevrolet in the final two races of the season. Ray's best finish of 2002 was a 12th at the Boomtown 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Foyt's #11 car. This led to a 23rd-place finish in points.

Fielding his own cars

Without a ride for 2003 Ray started his own team called Access Motorsports fielding Ray in the #13 Trim Spa Panoz G Force-Honda. The team started out strong with a 9th-place finish at the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi and followed that up with an 8th-place finish at the Indianapolis 500. Ray would equal his 8th-place finish at the Kansas Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway, the Emerson Indy 250 at Gateway International Speedway, and the Chevy 500 at [[Texas Motor Speedway

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