Once seen as the anti-Danica by the former Champ Car crowd, I’ve always thought Katherine Legge has been a better driver than she’s shown. She comes to the speedway this year in a last minute deal for the third car for the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, and low expectations.
Legge’s American career started in the Champ Car Atlantic series in 2005 where she won two races and finished third in the point standings. After that she moved up to Champ Car with KV Racing and then as the second car at Dale Coyne Racing. I feel like like she’s never had a chance in solid equipment, and that carried over to her return to American open wheel last year.
She started off the season with Dragon Racing, saddled with a Lotus engine. Once Indy came Dragon was able to get out of its Lotus deal but had to shrink down to one car after Indy. She ran the ovals for Dragon with a best finish of ninth in the season ending MavTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.
It seemed that she had secured the True Car sponsorship and looked like she would return to Dragon full time in 2013, but Legge was passed over for Sebastian Saavedra. There was a bit of drama, she threatened legal action and clearly felt slighted by her former employer.
Legge returns to the speedway with a chip on her shoulder. She’s 32 and has yet to establish herself as professional driver. She’s not going to get many more chances and she needs to make good on this one.
She was the final driver to qualify, and because of Michel Jourdain’s mechanical issues never had to tune out her car, so we’re going to have to wait until Carb Day on Thursday to see what she has.
This is also the first Indy 500 for the reincarnated Team Pelfrey, one of the up and coming Mazda Road to Indy series teams. Dale Pelfrey owns one of the most successful Pro Mazda teams, winning the championship last year with Jack Hawksworth. Its because of Pelfrey’s involvement that the car is numbered 81, and not the 99 that Schmidt normally uses for his Indy 500 entry. After seeing success over the past few years with some of the most talented names in American Open Wheel Racing I hope this run at the Indy 500 is a sign of greater things to come from Team Pelfrey, because they’re one of the developmental teams that do things right.
This article is one in a series focusing on the one off drivers filling the grid of 33 at this year’s Indy 500.