SPARTA, Kentucky -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. announced Aug. 8 at a press conference at Kentucky Speedway that he has successfully completed an in-patient treatment program at a world-class substance-abuse center.
Unser, who drives the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevorlet/Firestone for Kelley Racing, received approval from his doctors to race Aug. 11 in the Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. He missed Indy Racing League events at Nashville Superspeedway and Michigan International Speedway while receiving treatment.
Unser made the decision to seek treatment on July 18, and Corteco made arrangements for him to enter the facility. Earlier this week, his doctors authorized his release, and he was cleared to drive by Dr. Henry Bock, medical services director for the Indy Racing League.
"My recovery program didn't end earlier this week," said Unser. "No, that's just the beginning. I have a program that I'm following today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year and the rest of my life. I was told by the doctors that once you're considered medically healthy and are taught how to better manage your lifestyle, the next phase of the recovery is getting back on track with your life.
Unser, the 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 champion, has 33 Indy-style wins to his credit and was voted the Indy Racing League's most popular driver in 2000. Despite missing two races in 2002, Unser is ninth in points.
"I am really thrilled about returning to racing this weekend, and I'm prepared for the challenge of managing my life without alcohol," said Unser. "I know I need to take every day one day at a time, and I can do that with the support and help of others."
Said Tom Kelley, owner of Kelley Racing: "Today we welcome back Al Unser Jr. I'm sure I can speak for everyone by saying that we are all glad to see him in good health. Our thoughts and prayers have been with Al since he entered a substance-abuse center last month. We admired his honesty in recognizing his problem with alcohol and his determination to do something about it. I know he can't wait to get back into the Corteco/Bryant car."