Photo: PIRTEK Team Murray

Military veterans to service PIRTEK car at Indy pit stop challenge

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Cool story here that was released yesterday but that would have likely been buried in the day’s activities at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The PIRTEK Team Murray effort has another partner announcement in a cool way.

The full release is below:

PIRTEK Team Murray and the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation have created a unique program that will see six military service veterans and first responders from across North America molded into a pit crew for this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 celebrations in May.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) worked with Team Murray and the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation to create the concept and WBHE will be using the pit crew program to launch American Sniper: The Chris Kyle Commemorative Edition Blu-ray on May 3.

The pit crew will be housed in Indianapolis for the 10 days leading up to the event and will be trained and coached by some of the sport’s leading fitness and movement professionals, including Pit Fit’s Jim Leo.

Training complete, they will then be the entry crewing the PIRTEK Team Murray #61 Chevrolet entry into the TAG Heuer Pit Crew Challenge on Coors Lite Carb Day, Friday May 27, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The program was officially launched today by Kyle’s wife and PIRTEK Team Murray ambassador – Taya Kyle – at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg in Florida, the opening round of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Taya, the wife of Chris Kyle and best selling author of American Wife, was joined by PIRTEK Team Murray founder, Brett “Crusher” Murray, driver of the #61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet, Matt Brabham and former Navy SEAL, David Rutherford, who was announced as the first member of the CK Crew.

Rutherford, who is based in Florida, served eight years in the Naval Special Warfare Community, leaving the services in 2003.

He works as a motivational speaker with many of the world’s biggest companies under the banner of Team Froglogic, using his SEAL training to develop the competitive edge for those organizations.

An advocate for the recognition and treatment of PTSD among the military community, he is also a regular podcaster and radio host, Performance Coach, musician, poet and author who has published three books, including the best selling Self Confidence.

The remaining five members of the crew have been personally selected by Taya Kyle and will be announced during the coming weeks.

The remaining five members of the crew, a mixture of first responders, active military service personnel and veterans, have been personally selected by Taya Kyle and will be announced during the coming weeks.

The CK Crew concept was born from Chris Kyle’s appreciation for the teamwork that pit crews display in going about their job.

It was the one thing about motorsport that stood out to him some years ago when first attending a NASCAR race – Chris taking the time to speak with the crew, commenting at the time that the precision, toughness and the ability to work as one for the common goal reminded him of his military unit.

Funds raised through the program will be used by the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation to build programs that allow military service, veteran and first responder families to reconnect post-deployment.

The six CK Crew Members and Supporters will be included in a host of experiences including a ride in a two-seater IndyCar, being the guests of honor at a team dinner, team-bonding go-kart challenge with Matt Brabham, team hospitality and being included in the pre-race activities on the grid as guests of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Foundation will be using the Indianapolis 500 and other major Verizon IndyCar Series events throughout the year as a basis to allow military and first responders to re-engage and enhance their family units.

PIRTEK Team Murray will field a car in this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 for Matt Brabham, achieving the milestone of seeing the Brabham family becoming just the third family to have three generations compete in the race.

The US arm of Australian founded PIRTEK Fluid Systems has taken the naming rights of the team which has a technical partnership with KV Racing Technology, who won the Indy 2013 with Tony Kanaan.

Ben Hanley relieved to make Indy 500 debut

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Qualifying for the Indy 500 is never an easy task, especially for a new driver and team, and with 36 cars vying for 33 starting positions last weekend, 34-year-old rookie Ben Hanley knew there was a chance he and his DragonSpeed team would not make the show.

“I wouldn’t say we were very confident, but we wanted to [make the field],” Hanley told NBC Sports. “The biggest thing we were trying to achieve was to not be on track on Sunday in the shootout because it only takes one mistake or one little issue and that’s it, you’re not in the race.”

But Hanley would not have to worry about being bumped from the field. He qualified 27th after making three attempts on Day 1, which was enough to lock the No. 81 team into the show. Not too shabby for a driver and team making only their third NTT IndyCar Series start.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

“That last run everything just came together,” Hanley said. “We trimmed out a little bit more and found a good balance of trim and grip over four [qualifying] laps and it was enough to get us through.

“It was a huge relief to get through in P27. A massive achievement for everybody involved.”

Indeed it was a massive achievement, as DragonSpeed is one of the smallest teams in the garage, with no corporate sponsors and a tiny team of around 20 personnel. Many of those were picked up by the team just a week before qualifying, when members of the team’s regular crew were denied entry into the United States due to visa issues after leaving a sports car race in Italy.

“It was all down to the team organizing some people who were in and around Indianapolis who weren’t needed for the race weekend,” Hanley said. “Obviously, I don’t think many people are going to refuse the chance to work on a car that’s trying to qualify for the 500.”

Though the team made its first Indy 500 on Day 1 of qualifying, the DragonSpeed team did not spend Saturday night out late celebrating. Instead, Hanley said the extra time was spent preparing for the race.

“We went straight on to race prep then for the car, so Sunday was a good day for the guys to take time to prep the car into the race spec and get everything sorted out in a nice, organized manner.”

Following the Indy 500, DragonSpeed will run two other races this season at Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is hopeful that a good run at Indy will result in an opportunity to run a bigger schedule next season and attract sponsors.

Hanley stated that though he’s happy to have made the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time in his career, the magnitude of his feat hasn’t hit him yet.

“It hasn’t really soaked in yet,” he said. “I think it will soak in on Sunday when we roll out to the grid.

“It was such a huge relief to not be involved in Bump Day. Even just watching [Bump Day] it was intense, especially with the weather. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be involved in that.”

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