SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS GIVES A DESERVING BIRTHDAY GIFT INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports has announced today that it has signed two-time Indy Pro Series race winner Richard Antinucci to drive a team car in the 2008 Indy Pro...
SAM SCHMIDT MOTORSPORTS GIVES A DESERVING BIRTHDAY GIFT
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Sam Schmidt Motorsports has announced today that it has signed two-time Indy Pro Series race winner Richard Antinucci to drive a team car in the 2008 Indy Pro Series campaign.
The announcement for Antinucci was a nice birthday present for the driver as he turned 27 on January 26th.
"Happy Birthday, and welcome aboard," team owner Sam Schmidt said.
"You can describe this as a great birthday present," Antinucci said. "People have been saying, 'Oh, you're in Florida, you're not back home in California for your birthday,' but the thing is, I've got my birthday present. This is my life. It's the best thing I could have."
In 2007, driving for his uncle, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, Eddie Cheever, Antinucci made nine starts in the Indy Pro Series, all at non-oval venues.
As the season ended, Antinucci became a hot driver having placed in the top five in his last four races, including two wins and a second-place finish.
He proved to be quite a challenging competitor for 2007 Indy Pro Series Champion and Sam Schmidt Motorsports alum, Alex Lloyd.
Schmidt said, "Richard was someone we always kept an eye on at the road courses last year when he drove for his uncle, and we're really confident in his potential for a great year in 2008. We're excited to see what he can do in one of our cars this season."
"I'm thrilled," Antinucci said. "This is the kind of opportunity I've been waiting for. I'm very excited about learning oval racing as well. I think Sam and his team run a top-notch outfit."
Antinucci believes this will be another solid step before accomplishing his ultimate career goals in racing and hopes to follow the footsteps of those before him.
He said, "This isn't just a feeder series. It's a developmental series for the top flight of the IndyCar Series, which is where I want to be. To see guys like Alex (Lloyd) and Jay (Howard) go forward in the last two years is another great incentive to be with this team.
"On top of that, to work with Sam's engineering staff, to get to work with such a professional team, it's contagious. It's very motivating."
Prior to making his debut in the U.S., Antinucci spent many years in the international formula car ranks.
After winning races in karts from the age of eight, he moved into the European and British Formula Renault series from 2000-2001. In that time, he won the famed Spa International Festival (2001).
In 2002-2004, he followed that up by enjoying successes in the British Formula 3 Championship and then Japanese Formula 3.
He finished fifth in the 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries championship after winning two races, placing second twice, and third once.