SAM SCHMIDT TEAM KICKS OFF BUSY MONTH WITH FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS TEST
INDIANAPOLIS -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports arrived in full force on Tuesday with five race cars carrying the team name around the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In the morning, the team's four full-time Firestone Indy Lights drivers took part in their open-test for Carb Day's Freedom 100, while in the afternoon, Alex Lloyd made his return to Sam Schmidt Motorsports driving in the Indianapolis 500 rookie orientation/refresher program.
Wade Cunningham leads Sam Schmidt Firestone Indy Lights cars during Indy test; second overall.
Wade Cunningham leads Sam Schmidt FIL cars during Indy test; second overall. After turning his season back on track by winning the pole and finishing second at the Kansas Speedway, Wade Cunningham backed that performance up by turning quick laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A former winner on the famed oval, he felt comfortable straight from the green flag for practice. His fast lap for the day, like many, was put down early in the morning. His quick, early lap of 190.969 mph was good enough to hang on for second-fastest of the day.
Ana Beatriz, Gustavo Yacaman, and James Hinchcliffe utilize test to prepare for big race.
Following Cunningham was Beatriz who placed her car sixth overall with an average lap speed of 190.601 mph. Though she didn't have the outright speed during the morning sessions, towards the end of the running, in the highest heat of the day, she was one of the fastest cars on the track. She was one of the few to consistently turn in laps in the 190 mph range during the afternoon while many others ran between 187-189 mph. Rookies Yacaman and Hinchcliffe finished the test 17th and 15th, respectively. The two were able to utilize this open-test to get acclimated to the daunting oval, and more importantly, place themselves in a position to hit the ground running when the series returns for the first practice for the Freedom 100 on May 21st.
DRIVER NOTES & QUOTES
#7 HINCHTOWN.com/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Hinchcliffe
Practiced 15th overall with best speed of 188.057 mph.
Currently fifth in Firestone Indy Lights points.
Recently re-launched website, Hinchtown 2.0 (www.hinchtown.com).
"To be fair, it was a tough day at the office. Obviously, it was really exciting to come here and get my first laps around the oval at Indy. The history behind this place is undeniable, and everybody enjoys coming here. It's a pretty unique circuit compared to the other ovals I've had the chance to drive. It's a lot different. We struggled today. We were just a little bit off the pace, and the frustrating part is we're not quite sure why. That's the point of testing, and luckily we have a couple of weeks before we have to come back here and race. I know the guys at Sam Schmidt Motorsports will have things sorted when we return."
#11 LUCAS OIL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Wade Cunningham
Practiced second overall with best speed of 190.969 mph.
Currently 11th in Firestone Indy Lights points.
Former Firestone Indy Lights Champion (2005) and Freedom 100 Winner (2006).
"It's nice being back. It's good validation to be in a good car, then put up a good result. I had a great car that enabled me to go quick straight away. It was a bit difficult for everyone with tire wear in this first test because there was no rubber down. Obviously, we still have a little bit of work to do because the AGR car is still a little bit quicker, but we've got a couple of weeks before the race where we can sit down and analyze where we can come up with a stronger package and come out race weekend and contend for the win."
#20 HEALTHY CHOICE/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Ana Beatriz
Practiced sixth overall with best speed of 190.601 mph.
Currently seventh in Firestone Indy Lights points.
First woman to win in Firestone Indy Lights (Nashville, 2007).
"In the morning, the Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt car wasn't that bad. We didn't get a tow, and it was a little bit cool. In the middle of the session, I started having problems with over-steer. We kept working on it, and when we got rid of it, we were faster again. It was great, and by the end of the day, we were able to run in traffic and put up some fast times. We weren't as quick as those that put up fast times in the morning, but I think I was one of the fastest in the afternoon. So, I'm quite happy and looking forward to coming back in a couple of weeks for the race."
#44 CREPES & WAFFLES/TUVACOL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Gustavo Yacaman
Practiced 17th overall with best speed of 187.931 mph.
Currently 13th in Firestone Indy Lights points.
Youngest driver in Firestone Indy Lights (missed first open-test of the year due to age).
"We had a pretty neutral car in the beginning that didn't give me any confidence to go flat out on the first few laps. So, it took me awhile to feel comfortable. Once I got there, it's not as easy flat as some of the other ovals I've driven, but it's still flat. We still have to work on it. Even though it's Indianapolis, I have to convince myself that it's just another track and focus on getting better. Still, this place is fun, and it's different so it's definitely cool. I have to thank my crew guys for a good effort today, and I'm excited to come back here for the race."
Team Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Sam Schmidt
"May is always a busy month for us, and it's appropriate that day one was one of the busiest days today. In one sense, it's a bit comical to see the guys running back and forth between garages and changing shirts, but on the other hand, the boys had a very long and tough day, and they are to be commended for their efforts. There's been a tremendous effort that has gone on since Kansas, really, and we had no issues with the Firestone Indy Lights cars today. People need to remember that these efforts are Sam Schmidt Motorsports efforts. It's our boys from the Firestone Indy Lights teams that are turning the wrenches on the IndyCar.
"As far as the Firestone Indy Lights test goes, our objective was to position ourselves to return to the track on May 21st to tune, not test. With the speed we've seen in our cars, we've accomplished that. Ana and Wade were right up there on speed, and Gustavo and James will be up there with them when we return.
Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation
On Saturday, May 2nd, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation sponsored the winning hot air balloon in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Era Balloon Festival. Sam Schmidt himself got to go up in the balloon the very next day. To see video of the event, see the clip on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOiaVNTnV9w
On May 13th, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation will hold its 10th Annual Racing to Recovery Gala. The event at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Indiana, will celebrate the achievements of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation as well as serve as the organization's biggest yearly fundraiser. Tickets (only $125 each), sponsorship packages, and media credentials are available by contacting the foundation's president, Ida Cahill, at (317) 236-0999.