Fontana, Ca: Richie Hearn will replace Indy Racing League rookie Anthony Lazzaro in the ...
Fontana, Ca: Richie Hearn will replace Indy Racing League rookie Anthony Lazzaro in the #99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry for this weekends Yamaha Indy 400 from the California Speedway. Lazzaro was spun and impacted the outside retaining wall on lap 103 of last weekends Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 from the Phoenix International Raceway. Lazzaro suffered a small compression fracture of the T-5 vertebrae and was not cleared to drive. He is expected to be out 2-4 weeks.
"I'm happy to be in the car this weekend," said Hearn. "You hate to have it happen this way, but I just want to race. I do wish Anthony a speedy recovery. I have to thank Sam for the opportunity. He had lots of qualified drivers to select from and I'm happy he chose me. It helped having run with him last year with pretty good results as well as my experience here at this track. I'm looking forward to working with Tim Neff and this crew this weekend. We'll get the seat and pedals done tonight and I'll be ready to get up to speed in the morning."
Hearn ran two races for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2001 with two top tens and a best finish of 6th at the Chicagoland Speedway. Hearn won the inaugural Indy Racing event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1996. Hearn has three previous CART starts at the California Speedway and led 4 laps in 1997.
"I feel bad for Anthony," said Schmidt. "Anthony is leading the rookie points and we were just working toward our motto of "Peak in May". I guess we're at least lucky that we have experience with a talented driver like Richie and he's ready to jump in and stand on the gas. We had his seat from last year flown in yesterday. Richie has run here before in the CART cars and did a great job for me last year. I have complete confidence in Richie and this entire team. We were quick in testing here and I'm sure we'll have a great weekend."
The next event is the Yamaha Indy 400 on Sunday March 24th from the California Speedway. The race can be seen on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. EST.