IRL: Schmidt selects Hamilton to drive for new team

LAS VEGAS, Friday, March 2, 2001 - Call it the Las Vegas connection. Owner Sam Schmidt named Indy Racing veteran and fellow Las Vegas resident Davey Hamilton as the driver for Sam Schmidt Motorsports this season in the Northern Light Series on...

LAS VEGAS, Friday, March 2, 2001 - Call it the Las Vegas connection. Owner Sam Schmidt named Indy Racing veteran and fellow Las Vegas resident Davey Hamilton as the driver for Sam Schmidt Motorsports this season in the Northern Light Series on March 2. The team will make its debut at the season-opening Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 on March 18 at Phoenix International Raceway. Sam Schmidt Motorsports will field a Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone car for Hamilton at Phoenix. Ilmor Engineering will build the engines, Schmidt announced during the press conference at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hamilton, 38, is the only driver to start all 43 races in Indy Racing League history. His best career finish is second, three times, and he finished second in the Indy Racing standings in the 1996-97 and 1998 seasons. "This is great," Hamilton said. "We've been friends for a long time now, and I'm just happy to be a part of making Sam's dream come true. "Personally, I've been so close to the win, and in this league the competition is so intense. But I feel confident that with this team we can get it done. Sam wants to win. He's not going to be an owner that is happy just running around, and as a former winner he knows what it takes to get the job done. So the goal to win is the team's, Sam's and mine." Schmidt, 36, announced the formation of his team in February 2001. He was an Indy Racing driver until January 2000, when he was paralyzed in a testing accident at Orlando, Fla. "I wanted to acquire a championship-caliber driver like Davey Hamilton," Schmidt said. "His record certainly speaks for itself, as he has done everything but finish first. I know that this effort will keep his participation streak rolling, but I am more interested in doing his other record one better -- getting the win and winning the championship. "It will be a new combination running with my input as a former driver and now owner, Davey's 7,000-plus race laps and (team manager) Larry Nash's 20-plus years of car preparation. But I believe we have experience on our side, and you can never have enough experience." Schmidt also announced a marketing and technical partnership with Treadway Racing. He drove for Treadway Racing in Indy Racing competition in 1999, earning his first career victory at Las Vegas and finishing fifth in the point standings. Now Treadway Racing owner Fred Treadway and vice president Scott Cronk will help Schmidt in the marketing efforts of his new team. "I've had and will continue to enjoy a great relationship with Fred, Scott and everyone at Treadway Racing and truly appreciate their support and effort in putting this deal together," Schmidt said.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Davey Hamilton , Sam Schmidt