By petedirenzo
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This is a guarantee: If the No. 20 car wins this weekend's Indianapolis 500, the winners won't be drinking milk out of a carton. That's because the car is sponsored by Fuzzy Zoeller's Ultra Premium Vodka.
Golfing great Fuzzy Zoeller will be competing in the Senior PGA Championship this weekend, but the race car he sponsors, the Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry driven by Ed Carpenter of Panther Racing, will be at the Indy 500.
It's a dream come true of sorts for Zoeller, a fun-loving golfer and an Indiana native who won a Masters and a U.S. Open championship during his career. He broke into the spirits business as a rookie last year with his own line of vodka, and now he's sponsoring a racing team.
"I've won some majors in golf, and there is no doubt the Indianapolis 500 is the major championship in motor racing," Zoeller said. "I'm very excited about our partnership. I would love to add another major to my resume. Ed's resume on ovals is impressive, so we think we have a shot."
Carpenter qualified eighth for Sunday's race. Tony George is the team owner of Vision Racing, which is collaborating with Panther Racing. "This is exciting for us," George said. "The opportunity to have Fuzzy Zoeller be part of this ... really gives us the confidence we can go out and win. Fuzzy is a true champion and knows what it takes to win. I am very grateful to Fuzzy and all the people who have come together to support this effort."
Carpenter, an Indianapolis resident, is a six-year veteran of the IndyCar Series. He finished fifth and eighth in his previous Indy 500 appearances.
Panther Racing has had the last two Indy 500 runner-ups -- Vitor Meira in 2008 and Dan Wheldon last year. Panther Racing is owned and operated by Tony and Laura George, and by actor Patrick Dempsey of "Grey's Anatomy"; it's based in Indianapolis.
John Barnes, the head of Panther Racing, said, "Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka is one of the fastest growing spirits on the market, and now with Vision Racing and a driver of Ed Carpenter's caliber, they're going to have one of the fastest cars in the Indy 500. The opportunity is extremely exciting for us -- now maybe Fuzzy can help us with our short game."

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