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Vinatieri Gets Big Kick Out of USF2000 Team Ownership with ‘500’ Veteran Miller

As deafening race cars zoomed by pit road, an unfazed Adam Vinatieri seemed right at home Friday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the iconic venue where legends are made.

“Living in Indy, you have to be a race fan,” Indianapolis Colts kicker Vinatieri said. “That’s part of living here, right?”

The NFL’s all-time leader in field goals and scoring, among other honors, already qualifies as legendary in his world. But this day was about “Mr. Clutch” being “Mr. Coach” as co-owner of a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship race team with former three-time Indianapolis 500 qualifier Dr. Jack Miller.

Miller Vinatieri Motorsports was formed in 2018 by suburban Indianapolis neighbors who have known each other in Westfield since Vinatieri joined the Colts a dozen years earlier. MVM drivers are Miller’s 15-year-old son, Jack William, and Eduardo Barrichello, 18-year-old son of former two-time Formula One World Championship runner-up Rubens Barrichello.

“I told little Jack, ‘When you’re running Indy, I want to be right there in the pits with you doing your thing,” Vinatieri said.

Dr. Jack Miller, “The Racing Dentist” who competed in the Indy 500 from 1997 through 1999 and made 22 career NTT IndyCar Series starts, handles the team’s technical side. Vinatieri, who at 46 just signed a one-year deal to return to the Colts for his 24th NFL season, provides sponsorship and competitive insight.

On this overcast afternoon, before MVM raced at IMS for the first time, Vinatieri was understandably enthusiastic.

“Back in the day when my son was a bit younger and doing some go-karting with these guys, I went out and ripped around the track a little bit,” he said. “It’s much more difficult than everybody thinks. It’s amazing when you’re flying down the tracks.”

Someday, he’d love to take an Indy car for a test spin on the high-speed, 2.5-mile IMS oval.

“Absolutely. I definitely would love to get out in one of them,” Vinatieri said. “I’ll probably have to wait one more year or two more years until I’m done kicking.”

The ageless wonder hasn’t shown any indication that Father Time is catching up with that trusty right foot. He made 23 of 27 field goals with a long of 54 yards last season.

When another reporter asked about him taking a drive at IMS, he added, “Let me finish kicking, then we’ll talk about it after that.”

Miller, 57, returns each May to IMS for veteran driver autograph signings and the “500.” This visit was admittedly different.

“I love this place,” he said. “I’ve been coming every year for the ‘500.’ I’m a little bit more nervous now because my son is racing.

“Having Adam be part of it with his mental coaching has been great. The pressure on him is I think more than the pressure on these drivers out here, making sure he kicks the ball with the world’s eyes on it.”

Vinatieri, who has made two last-second, game-winning field goals in Super Bowls, quickly disagreed.

“Both of our jobs are precision-based and about not making errors,” he said, “but one of these guy’s errors means they hit a wall real hard and real fast. I don’t know, I guess if I make a mistake, somebody else is throwing me against the wall. It’s a little different.”

The race didn’t turn out so well for MVM. Miller finished 17th and Barrichello 19th in the 21-car field.

But it was still a memorable day and another step toward an ultimate goal: Miller wants to see his son win the Indy 500. And Vinatieri would like to be there, too.

“Every red-blooded American loves race cars and going a million miles per hour and all of that stuff,” Vinatieri said. “I’m obviously still in the learning process of all the different classifications and where we’re at with the team, but it’s a lot of fun. As a layman or a person who is part of the team but learning as I go along, it’s exciting for me to just be a part of it.”

What was Coach Vinatieri’s advice to the drivers this day?

“Just stay in your lane,” he said. “That’s the typical silly one. Just go out there and do your best and stay focused on what you need to do.

“I’m excited for them. I don’t want to get in the way and do anything that takes away from their experience, but I’m pretty excited to be here. I was going to say that maybe I’m more excited than they are, but I doubt that. I am excited to be more of a part of it than just a spectator.”

Which means he can take his own advice.

“I don’t know all the specs of the engine and stuff like that,” Vinatieri said. “I know how to stay in my lane.”

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