Danica Patrick’s IndyCar and racing career is over. The racing career of another Stateline native is just taking off in a big way. Belvidere North graduate Kyle Lapier also played a key role at the Indy 500 Sunday.
Lapier is a rear end suspension mechanic for the #1 Verizon Team Penske car that’s driven by Josef Newgarden. That car finished eighth Sunday after starting fourth. It led three laps.
“There’s a lot of nerves going on around the pits,” says Lapier. “You just want to make sure you do your job right and cross all your ‘T’s and dot all your ‘I’s.”
Newgarden and the #1 Penske team won the IndyCar season points championship last year. They’re currently third in points this season.
Lapier is 28 years old. There was a time when he was a racer himself. He won championships in multiple divisions competing at the Rockford Speedway up through 2013. That’s when he left for UTI the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina to further his education and strive for bigger goals. That’s when he landed with the most famous company in racing in America Team Penske.
“I went off to school and got hired,” says Lapier. “I didn’t know anybody there and I got hired in and started on the NASCAR side of the team and transferred over to IndyCar so I could do this race. It’s the reason I wanted to be here for.”
Lapier has been with Penske Racing for three years now building up a vast depth of knowledge of stock car racing and IndyCars.
“It’s a huge learning curve,” says Lapier. “As for liking one more I’d say they both have their pros and cons. I don’t really dislike one over the other. But I’m just happy to be here.”
All of the knowledge Lapier is gaining could help him reach his ultimate goal.
“Someday I’d like to if I work hard enough be a car chief or a crew chief here. I’ve just got to put my time in here and see what happens.”
Lapier lives in Statesville, North Carolina working from there when he and the team aren’t traveling racing. This week they’ll be up in Detroit.