IPS: Pikes Peak: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

Pikes Peak Is Middle of Three-Week Cross-Country Run Sam Schmidt Motorsports Read to Win a Mile In this season's Menards Infiniti Pro Series, Sam Schmidt Motorsports has been omni-present in the battle for the series points...

Pikes Peak Is Middle of Three-Week Cross-Country Run
Sam Schmidt Motorsports Read to Win a Mile

In this season's Menards Infiniti Pro Series, Sam Schmidt Motorsports has been omni-present in the battle for the series points championship, but the team hasn't been synonymous with victory lane at the one-mile oval race tracks. Schmidt hopes his rookie drivers and veteran team will change that fact this weekend when the series heads to Pikes Peak International Raceway, located just south of Colorado Springs, Col.

Gregg, a 27-year-old from Camden, Ohio, drives Schmidt's #7 Lucas Oil Special. He is the only driver in the team's ranks who has even been to Pikes Peak - he observed there last season. Gregg is second in the point standings with 314 points. Gregg, who does backflips in celebration of his race wins, has four pole positions (Miami, Phoenix, Texas, Kentucky), three victories (Miami, Texas, Kentucky) and has led 221 laps in the MIPS this season.

Jaime Camara, 24, a Brazilian native residing in Miami, Fla. He is third in the standings with 289 points. Driving Schmidt's #1 CELG, Goias entry, Camara has three pole positions (Indianapolis, Nashville, Milwaukee), three outside pole positions (Homestead, Phoenix, Kentucky), two wins (Indianapolis, Nashville). Camara secured the team's best finish at the last one-mile track - he was fifth at Milwaukee.

Chris Festa, 19, of Atlanta, Ga, the youngest of Schmidt's drivers, is seventh in the series standings with 246 points. Festa led his first MIPS lap at Texas, where he qualified second. His best finish of the season is also the team's best finish at a one-mile race track this season - Festa was second at Phoenix. He also has two third place finishes (Indianapolis road course and Texas). The teenager drives Schmidt's #19 SpacePak, CareCentric entry and attends classes at Florida State University.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports is also a means of promoting and publicizing the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. The Foundation was created by Schmidt to help individuals overcome spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders. Schmidt is currently recovering from serious upper spinal cord injuries suffered in a testing accident on January 6, 2000 while practicing for the season-opening Indy Racing League event at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. Further information is available at www.samschmidt.org or (317) 236-9999

Heading into the IndyCar Series race at Michigan, Racer Magazine announced they will auction a limited production Firestone poster to be signed by all 30 drivers that have won while driving on Firehawk tires. The auction will be held on eBay in October with the proceeds to be split between Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation and CARA Charities.

Here are some thoughts from the drivers and owner heading into the PPIR weekend:

SAM SCHMIDT, Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports:

"Pikes Peak International Raceway--I had great success there as a driver and finished second in 1999, but unfortunately, we haven't had the same success with our Menards Infiniti Pro Series team. We have been pretty good on the mile ovals this season, but haven't managed to win one. It would be great for the championship if we could win there.

Also, it is in the middle of our busiest month of the year for the team, so it is important we don't make any mistakes. It is already a thrash for the teams to be run Pikes Peak this week and still be properly prepared for Infineon next week. Add repairs on top of that, and it is really going to be tough."

CHRIS FESTA, #19 SpacePak, CareCentric, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"Pikes Peak is a different track in that it has a much higher elevation, so downforce and horsepower will not be as sufficient, thus making making mechanical grip in the car that much more important (for getting as much speed out of the car as possible).

"It is a one-mile oval as well, so the racing will be much harder than the big tracks and making passes more difficult. So you will really have to be aggressive to get it done.

"I am confident going there because we always have strong cars on the short tracks, so I am really looking forward to going out there and attacking the track with everything that I have."

TRAVIS GREGG, #7 Lucas Oil Special, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"This will be the first time for me on the Pikes Peak track. I did go last year and watch. It looks like a fun track to drive. It will be interesting to see how the high elevation changes the handling of the car, and affects the driver's physical ability.

"I don't think when we get to Pikes Peak that we'll be thinking about how much distance we're covering in this three-week stretch, but by the time we leave, it'll probably sink in, especially since a lot of us aren't going home between Colorado and California."

JAIME CAMARA, #1 CELG, Goias, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"I will have a lot of learning to do when I get to Colorado. I have never been to this track before, and I know the car will be different because of the altitude. I know my crew will have a lot of good notes, and I plan on doing a lot of listening and learning. We did a good job at Milwaukee, which was a one-mile track. We had the pole position there, but the finish was fifth. I'd like to do better in the race to get a better finish at Pikes Peak."

-ssm-

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