2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series Preview: Sam Schmidt Motorsports Luyendyk, Medeiros Enjoy The Fast Lane Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2004 -- The Sam Schmidt Motorsports team enters the 2004 Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series ...
2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series Preview: Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Luyendyk, Medeiros Enjoy The Fast Lane
Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2004 -- The Sam Schmidt Motorsports team enters the 2004 Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series looking like a strong contender for the championship.
After placing eighth and ninth with two rookie drivers in 2003, Sam Schmidt strengthened his team's position by signing drivers Thiago Medeiros and Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Medeiros, who finished fourth in the 2003 point race, recorded the only win of his rookie season at the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. The 21-year-old Brazilian recently recorded the fastest laps in open tests conducted at Homestead-Miami and Phoenix.
Complementing Medeiros will be Luyendyk, son of the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. The 22-year-old finished seventh in the standings last season, capturing two poles and five top-five finishes.
"Thiago and I are good friends, and we always have fun together," Luyendyk said. "I am really happy to have this opportunity with Sam's team, and will focus all of my efforts on giving myself as well as Sam Schmidt Motorsports our first win."
Capsule look at Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
Chassis/engine: Dallara / Infiniti
Owner: Sam Schmidt
Drivers: Thiago Medeiros (No. 11), Arie Luyendyk Jr., (No. 5)
Team manager: Michael Crawford
Crew chief: Chris Griffis
Chief mechanics: Mike Soboleski, Scott Fehr
Engineers: Tim Neff, Blair Perschbacher
Sam Schmidt: "I am extremely pleased to have Thiago competing with our team for the full season, as well as '03 champion crew chief, Chris Griffis. Observing Thiago throughout 2003, I know that he has the talent to compete for wins and the championship this year. He is also a quality individual and I know our team will enjoy working with him next year. Arie Luyendyk Sr. and I were teammates on Fred Treadway's IndyCar team in '99 at Indy, and I still have that in my memory as one of my absolute best experiences as an IndyCar Series driver. He was a phenomenal teammate. Either one of us should have won (the Indy 500) in that year. So to be able to put this deal together to run Arie Jr. is great for everybody. I'm pleased to be running Junior. I think he has a great personality and I think he's got a lot of talent - hopefully our team can help show that."
Thiago Medeiros: "I am looking forward to working with the entire Sam Schmidt Motorsports team this season, as I feel we have gelled well during preseason testing. They have a lot of experience, and I now know a lot more about this kind of racing, so I think together we will be a very strong candidate for the Championship in '04. 2003 was my first year racing on ovals and living in the USA and was a steep learning curve for me, as I was new to everything. It's going to be extremely tight racing. The cars are so evenly matched; it's the little things that each team can get out of their cars that are going to make the difference."
Arie Luyendyk Jr.: "It's going to be a lot like the last two years - a lot of close racing. There will be a lot of new talent coming into the series this year. I think you'll see me and my teammate at the top of the charts more, hopefully."
The 2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series season begins with the Homestead-Miami 100 at 11:45 (EST) on Feb. 29, 2004, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast at 4 p.m. on March 4 on ESPN2.