INDIANAPOLIS – Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Jr. was booked into jail overnight in Hendricks County, Indiana, charged with OWI (Operating While Intoxicated). He remains incarcerated awaiting bond.
Unser is an executive consultant with Harding Steinbrenner Racing and has struggled with alcohol issues throughout his life.
This is Unser’s fourth alcohol-related arrest. In 2002, he was arrested after an alcohol-involved fight with his then-girlfriend. He also has previous drunk driving arrests in 2007 and 2011.
Unser has taken many attempts to remain sober. He regularly speaks about his struggles with alcoholism, including just a few weeks ago with students at Hope Academy in Indianapolis. He has admitted drinking was a demon he faced, and he hopes others will learn from his mistakes.
Unser won the Indianapolis 500 in 1992 with Galles Racing and 1994 with Team Penske.
He was vital in helping Harding Steinbrenner Racing turn into a competitive NTT IndyCar Series team, and was one of the first members hired on the team by founder and owner Mike Harding.
The team that features 19-year-old driver Colton Herta, who starts fifth in Sunday’s 103rd Indianapolis 500, issued a statement on Monday.
“The entire Harding Steinbrenner Racing organization is saddened to learn of Al Unser Jr’s arrest on an OWI charge,” the statement said. “Alcoholism is a disease and a continuing battle for those struggling with it. At this time, we do support Al in any way that he needs. All additional questions should be directed to Al’s legal counsel, James H. Voyles.”
Will Power led the only IndyCar Road America practice of the weekend Saturday, shooting to the top of the chart on his 22nd and final lap of the session at 1 minute, 46.0021 seconds in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet.
Dixon knocked Jack Harvey’s No. 60 Dallara-Honda from the top spot (which would have marked the first time that a Meyer-Shank Racing car led practice).
Josef Newgarden, Power’s Team Penske teammate, was third, followed by Felix Rosenqvist and Ryan Hunter-Reay (who went off course late in the session but sustained no damage).
Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Graham Rahal, defending race winner Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top 10 in the practice that preceded a Saturday-Sunday race weekend doubleheader for IndyCar at Road America.
PRACTICE RESULTS: Click here to see who was fastest in the session
RACE INFORMATION: What you need to know for today’s REV Group Grand Prix
RATED ROOKIE: Rinus VeeKay rebounding well from a tough debut
IndyCar tested some new cooling devices with cars from Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. Several drivers have said the cockpit heat caused by the new aeroscreen was stifling during last week’s GMR Grand Prix, and IndyCar repositioned drink bottles this weekend to keep liquids cool. The pieces tried by IndyCar during the Road America practice won’t be available during the races Saturday and Sunday at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course.
Scott Dixon, who is seeking to open the season with his third consecutive IndyCar victory, was 15th fastest in the 75-minute session. Other notables in Road America practice: Marco Andretti (12th), Simon Pagenaud (19th).
Power is aiming for his second consecutive pole position after qualifying first last week on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Qualifying for the REV Group Grand Prix Race #1 will take place at 2:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold).
The broadcast of the IndyCar race at Road America will begin at 5 p.m. on NBCSN.