Road to Indy: Dreyer and Reinbold pairs up 500 ex-winners

In 1994, Roger Penske paired Indianapolis winners Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi in a formidable 1-2 punch that resulted in Unser's second win in the 500-Mile race.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is hoping to recapture some of that magic this year, pairing two-time winner Unser with its regular driver, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier.

"I can't believe it's been that long since two 500 winners have gotten together," Unser said. "I feel it makes the team that much stronger."

Unser should know. He's been part of the last three teams which paired former winners (1993 with Danny Sullivan for Rick Galles and 1994-95 with Fittipaldi at Penske.) But the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner said chemistry between teammates is more important than past success.

"It's critical to have a teammate that you can get along with," Unser said. "Quite honestly, with Buddy's attitude and his style of driving, we're going to be able to work very well together, be able to share the setups, just do some double duty out there. I'm sure that I'll be able to drive his car. I'm sure he'll be able to drive mine. We'll be able to really work together."

Lazier, the only driver to appear in every IRL-sanctioned Indianapolis 500, returns to Indianapolis chasing a return trip to Victory Lane. Ten years removed from his Indianapolis 500 victory, he still laments the ones that got away.

"I don't think much about (the win)," he said. "But really what I have more on my mind was in 1998 and 2000 when I was runner-up by just a little bit. It's satisfying to think back on winning the Indianapolis 500 – under any circumstances it's a wonderful accomplishment of a goal and dream."

This season, Lazier returns with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which has had strong runs at Indianapolis with team co-owner Robbie Buhl. Lazier has soldiered to three consecutive 14th-place finishes in the first three events of the 2006 season, but admits running well at Indianapolis is a primary focus of the season.

"I've spent the better part of 10 years trying to get back to victory lane, and on many occasions felt like I had the team and car to do it," he said. "If you race IndyCars, you race to win, you race to make a living, you race to win championships. I've been fortunate to win the championship within that 10-year period. But what plays on my mind are how close we've been to winning that race a few times.

"The thing about the Indy 500 is the consequences for mistake are so large and the critical nature of the setup of the race car and the race driver being switched on for the whole month of May, the intensity of it. It's a very unique event within our sport. It takes everything and puts it to the max and tests the car and driver like no other place we race."

WINNERS ON THE SAME TEAM (Only teammates who started the race are listed)
* denotes also won race
1920 Jules Goux & Howdy Wilcox (Peugeot);
1923 Tommy Milton* & Howdy Wilcox (H.C.S);
Ralph de Palma & Dario Resta (Packard)
1937 Bill Cummings & Louis Meyer (Boyle)
1967 Parnelli Jones, Jim Clark & Graham Hill (Team Lotus)
1972 Al Unser & Mario Andretti (Vel's Parnelli Jones)
1973 Al Unser & Mario Andretti (Vel's Parnelli Jones)
1974 Al Unser & Mario Andretti (Vel's Parnelli Jones)
1975 Al Unser & Mario Andretti (Vel's Parnelli Jones)
1980 Mario Andretti, Rick Mears & Bobby Unser (Penske Racing)
1981 Rick Mears & Bobby Unser* (Penske Racing);
Gordon Johncock & Mario Andretti (Patrick Racing)
1982 Gordon Johncock* & Mario Andretti (Patrick Racing)
1983 Al Unser & Rick Mears (Penske Racing)
1984 Al Unser & Rick Mears* (Penske Racing)
A.J. Foyt & Johnny Rutherford (A.J. Foyt Racing)
1985 Al Unser & Rick Mears (Penske Racing)
1986 Al Unser, Rick Mears & Danny Sullivan (Penske Racing)
1987 Al Unser*, Rick Mears & Danny Sullivan (Penske Racing)
1988 Al Unser, Rick Mears* & Danny Sullivan (Penske Racing)
1989 Al Unser, Rick Mears & Danny Sullivan (Penske Racing)
1990 Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan & Emerson Fittipaldi (Penske Racing)
1991 Rick Mears* & Emerson Fittipaldi (Penske Racing)
1992 Rick Mears & Emerson Fittipaldi (Penske Racing)
Tom Sneva & Al Unser (Team Menard)
1993 Al Unser, Jr. & Danny Sullivan (Galles Racing)
1994 Al Unser, Jr.* & Emerson Fittipaldi (Penske Racing) IRL

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