Veteran Indy Racing League crew chief Kevin 'Rocket' Blanch has joined the Indy Racing League as technical manager for the IndyCar Series, having decided to give up his job with double champions Panther Racing.

He will oversee the IndyCar Series' technical inspection crew, a group of 25 individuals, during events. He also will work closely with Phil Casey, senior technical director for the Indy Racing League, and Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of racing operations.

"Blanch's record and performance while with the Pennzoil Panther Racing team were simply outstanding," Barnhart said, "He is well respected within the racing community, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for us with Kevin joining the IRL staff as technical manager."

The 39-year old comes to the IRL after serving the previous six-plus seasons with Panther Racing, which he joined the shortly after the team was formed in the autumn of 1997. He quickly became a vital force behind the team's success, including successive IndyCar Series championships with driver Sam Hornish Jr in 2001-02, incorporating dual crew chief/right-front tyre changing roles from the team's first test session in December 1997 at Phoenix International Raceway.

"This is a great opportunity for me and is the next logical step in my career," Blanch admitted, "I've been with the Indy Racing League since it started. Hopefully, I can bring some of my experience to this position and make it smoother and easier for the teams to go through the tech line.

"I love racing, and I believe in the formula of the Indy Racing League and Tony George's vision. I have always said until I can retire, I want to be a part of the IRL, its race cars and the people in the sport."

During Blanch's tenure at Panther Racing, the team won two series championships, earned eleven victories and five pole-position starts and led 2032 laps. Panther's cars were running at the finish in 77 per cent of the team's starts and completed 90 per cent of all possible race laps during his tenure.

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