INDIANAPOLIS — official series release — Mike Finnegan/IndyCar photo —
Johnny Rutherford, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and longtime driver of the pace car in the Verizon IndyCar Series, was honored prior to Miller Lite Carb Day practice by drivers and crew members on a ceremonial lap along pit road.
Rutherford is turning over pace car duties following Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 to Sarah Fisher.
The retiring Indy car veteran also received a special award from Firestone Racing commemorating “54 great years at Indy — 500 winner, driver coach and Pace Car driver” and a banner signed by all 33 drivers in the 100th running.
“(It was) a total surprise to me,” Rutherford said of the honorary lap around IMS. “I thought we were just going to go out and to do a radio check with the pace car. We did accomplish that, but when I pulled her out and saw all the crews and all the people (on pit road), it was fantastic. I was in total shock.”
“When I retired (as an Indy car driver), I had the opportunity to start driving the pace car. It meant a lot to me because I can stay up close and personal and I get to lead the field. This year’s race will be something; it will be a dandy.”
CREDIT: INDYCAR Communications