SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS SHIFTS FOCUS TO FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS PROGRAMS WITH FREEDOM 100
INDIANAPOLIS -- With nearly a month hiatus since their last race in Firestone Indy Lights, the Sam Schmidt Motorsports quartet of Ana Beatriz, Gustavo Yacaman, James Hinchcliffe, and Wade Cunningham will return to the track tomorrow for practice and qualifying for Friday's Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports has finished no worse than second in Freedom 100 since 2004.
Since 2004, Sam Schmidt Motorsports has placed cars in Indy's victory lane after the Freedom 100 three times. In 2004, Thiago Medeiros welcomed team owner Sam Schmidt to Indy's hallowed victory lane after his win. In 2005, Jaime Camara made it back-to-back for Schmidt. In 2006, Jay Howard narrowly missed taking the victory when current Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Wade Cunningham took the checkers. Current Chip Ganassi/Sam Schmidt driver, Alex Lloyd, returned the team to victory lane in 2007, and in 2008, Richard Antinucci just narrowly missed making it two in a row again. This year, the team is confident that all four of its drivers have solid shots of making it back into victory lane at Indianapolis.
Wade Cunningham looks to return to Indy's victory lane.
Wade Cunningham entered the Kansas weekend looking to get his season back on track. He did so by winning the pole and finishing second in the race. Here in Indy, he looks to return to victory lane. He made a strong case for it two weeks ago during the open test at the speedway. He was second-fastest among all runners, and he believed that there was more speed left to be found in the car. Cunningham looks to become the first driver in Firestone Indy Lights history to win for a second time in the Freedom 100 when the green flag flies on Friday afternoon.
#7 HINCHTOWN.com/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver James Hinchcliffe
Former Champ Car Atlantic Star; rookie in Firestone Indy Lights with two
Enters Indianapolis fifth in points.
"Well, I mean, going into a race quite this big you don't make too many expectations. For us, the test was a little bit of a struggle but we think we found out why. So, obviously, our teammates are up with Wade (Cunningham) being P2 in the test so we know the car's going to be pretty good. So, from there, it's just getting up to speed quickly in these practice days and making sure you got a solid two laps in qualifying and then it's sort of, you know, no holds barred; all bets are off for the race."
#11 LUCAS OIL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Wade Cunningham
Former Freedom 100 winner (2006) and Firestone Indy Lights Champion (2005).
Enters Indianapolis 11th in points.
"I think we're going to be competing for the pole. Everyone knows the AGR cars are very quick but we showed at Kansas, with the right conditions and when we do everything right, we can beat them. I'll be very, very disappointed if we're not there battling for that pole position, because history's shown the pole sitter usually wins this race. It's only happened once when it hasn't. So, there's still hope if we're not on pole. We'll be trying very, very hard. I feel like we've improved the car since the test. Hopefully we've got a little bit more, relative to the competition. So, I think it'll be a case of the usual suspects at the front; us and the AGR cars, maybe Mario Romancini. He was very strong at Kansas also. I don't see too many surprises. Hopefully, it's a good, hard, clean race and people use their heads and we can enjoy ourselves."
#20 HEALTHY CHOICE/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Ana Beatriz
First woman in Firestone Indy Lights history to win a race.
Enters Indianapolis seventh in points.
"I'm really excited to get back into the car, especially after being with the HER Chip Ganassi/Sam Schmidt Motorsports crew all month long watching preparations for the Indy 500. It's been a great opportunity to learn more about the IndyCars and just get me more excited about racing this weekend. We had the opportunity to test here at the beginning of the month, and we did well so I'm really confident that the Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt car will be fast, and maybe we can win the most important race of the year."
#44 CREPES & WAFFLES/TUVACOL/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Gustavo Yacaman
Youngest driver in Firestone Indy Lights field.
Enters Indianapolis 13th in points.
"Well, the test didn't go too well, but we're pretty sure we're going to make an improvement. We're going to be up there. My guys have worked really hard since the open test, and I feel like we've all learned a bit and are coming back much better prepared."
Team Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Sam Schmidt
"We've had really good success here and the guys have put a tremendous amount of effort into preparing for this race because it's so important. So, I'm hoping that we can get the pole and win the race. I think we'll be disappointed with anything less. I don't care which car does it; just so we do it."