Sam Schmidt says he has been in discussions with Juan Pablo Montoya regarding a ride in the 102nd Indianapolis 500, although he admits it would require the team to find financial backing.
On the day that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda revealed that its fulltime lineup in 2018 would be James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens, team co-owner Schmidt admitted that he’s interested in running two-time Indy 500 winner Montoya at the Brickyard next May.
Although the Colombian ace drove a fifth Penske entry at this year's GP of Indy and the 500, his only drives for team owner Roger Penske in 2018 will be his fulltime role piloting an Acura ARX-05s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Schmidt told Motorsport.com: “Roger deciding to not run Juan at Indy and allowing him to look for alternatives there has opened a door, and so it’s something Juan and I have discussed. It would be very interesting and it works well with him being an Acura driver and us being a Honda team.
“But it’s a scenario where we would have to find the funding, and to this point our total focus this off-season was getting the second car nailed down, getting a strong driver for it, and extending our deal with James.
“Now we can turn our attention a little more to the Indy situation, but we haven’t yet generated the funding internally to run that entry. We always have run an extra car there and that’s our intent again, but we haven’t been able to focus on it so far.”
Schmidt dismissed the idea of Hinchcliffe’s primary sponsor, Arrow Electronics, providing additional financial backing for a one-off entry, but said Montoya’s heritage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway should be a huge benefit when seeking a sponsor.
“I think Arrow has been a very committed partner for James’ entry and I wouldn’t tap them for more support for a third car,” he said. “I think it’s a matter of tapping into their suppliers and other people.
“Some global company associated with Arrow might be interested in an ex-Formula 1 guy, ex-Indy car champion and two time Indy 500 champion – those are all great things to sell against. I think we all knows he does a traditionally excellent job at the Speedway."