IRL: Indy 500: Buddy Lazier to drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports

1996 WINNER B. LAZIER TO RACE FOR SCHMIDT IN INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 11, 2007 -- 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier has teamed up with Indy Pro Series championship team owner Sam Schmidt for an entry in the 91st ...

1996 WINNER B. LAZIER TO RACE FOR SCHMIDT IN INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 11, 2007 -- 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier has teamed up with Indy Pro Series championship team owner Sam Schmidt for an entry in the 91st Indianapolis 500.

Lazier will drive the No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Tim Neff is the race strategist.

Twenty-six drivers have been named to the 38 entries filed for the 33 starting spots in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 27. That includes five past winners and the top 11 finishers from last year's race. Six IndyCar Series champions also are entered, including 2000 series champ Lazier and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr.

Lazier's 14 starts at Indy include the 1996 victory and five other top-10 finishes. Last year, he advanced 13 positions to finish 12th in a Dreyer & Reinbold Racing-prepared car. Lazier has competed in every "500" since 1995. He made his first Indianapolis 500 start in 1991.

"I'm excited about the commitment (Schmidt has) made in terms of equipment and level of preparation," Lazier said. "I have a lot of confidence where I'm at as a racing driver. I have an equal amount of confidence in the crew that Sam has amassed."

Since forming Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2001, former IndyCar Series driver Schmidt has entered a car in the Indianapolis 500 each year, with a top finish of sixth in 2002 with Richie Hearn. Schmidt competed in three 500-Mile Races (1997-99), with a high starting spot of sixth and best finish of 26th (both in 1998). Schmidt was paralyzed from the chest down in an on-track accident during testing in January 2000.

"It's a pleasure to be here this early in April as opposed to early in May," Schmidt said. "I clearly think this is our best opportunity since we finished sixth in 2002 to be competitive and be at the front at the end. I'm very pleased to make this announcement having Buddy Lazier signed to a full-month program with all the resources, the cars and Honda engines to do it right. Our team is pretty pumped up."

Sam Schmidt Motorsports has won two of the past three Indy Pro Series driver championships, and Alex Lloyd in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car is atop the standings after three of 16 rounds.

The 91st Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (ET). On-track activity starts May 6 with A.J. Foyt Opening Day presented by The Indianapolis Star Rookie Orientation. Other schedule highlights include Pole Day on May 12, Armed Forces Day/Bump Day on May 20, American Family Insurance 500 Festival Community Day on May 23 and Miller Lite Carb Day on May 25.

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2007 Indianapolis 500 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 91st Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 27.

Tickets can be purchased at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Web site, www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by phone or at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket Office. The IMS Ticket Office can be contacted at (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or (317) 492-6700 locally. Ticket Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Parking and camping permits for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" also can be purchased online, by phone or at the Ticket Office.

-credit: ims

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