Ho-Pin Tung will become the first driver from the People’s Republic of China to race in the IZOD IndyCar Series when he takes the green flag in this weekend’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
Tung, from Wenhou, China, will drive the No. 88 Mouser.com Dallara/Honda/Firestone car for Schmidt Dragon Racing. He tested the car at an open test with the team last week at Infineon Raceway.
“The track is very technical, with many differences in height, really challenging,” Tung said. “This circuit requires an intelligent approach. I am very excited about the chance being offered by Mouser, Motegi Wheels and other partners to race at Sonoma.”
The 28-year-old Tung sought to become the first Chinese driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 this past May. Though posting competitive times in practice in a Schmidt Dragon Racing car, a crash on Pole Day ended his attempt to qualify for the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500. He suffered a concussion in the crash. In June, he raced in a round of the Superleague Nations Cup for Team China at Assen, The Netherlands.
“I am thrilled that we were able to give Ho-Pin the opportunity to get into an IndyCar again this season,” said Dragon Racing owner Jay Penske. “After showing so much promise in Indy this past May, I can’t wait to see what he can do in Sonoma.”
Tung is currently in his second year as a Formula 1 test driver for the Lotus Renault GP team and has helped develop the team’s 2011 R31 car. He started his racing career in karts at age 14 and quickly moved up through the open-wheel ranks, doing most of his racing in Europe. In addition to winning the Asian Formula BMW championship in 2003, Tung won the German Formula 3 championship in 2006. He has more than 20 wins in various rear-engine formulas.
He also tested an IndyCar Series car last fall in Sebring, Fla., with the former FAZZT racing team that is now Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM). The test was funded by Bowers & Wilkins, sponsor of SSM’s No. 77 IndyCar team.
“Our team is pleased to have been able to facilitate this program for Ho-Pin Tung that gives him another shot in 2011,” said Schmidt. “He was the model of consistency at Indy. It was a shame he couldn't compete in that event, but we are thrilled to be partnering with Dragon Racing to make this happen. Also, I want to thank Mouser.com for providing the resources that will enable the first Chinese driver to compete in IndyCar history."
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