Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ co-owner Sam Schmidt says it will not run Danica Patrick or Juan Pablo Montoya at the 2018 Indianapolis 500, but confirms it still plans to run an extra entry.
SPM had signed a deal with Tristan Gommendy and ex-Formula 1 team owner Didier Calmels, but that deal collapsed at the end of 2017.
However, Schmidt told Motorsport.com that the cancellation does not mean it will stick to a two-car entry with full-time drivers James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens, and with Jack Harvey's SPM entry being run by Michael Shank Racing.
“We still plan to run a third car,” said Schmidt. “It was an unfortunate chain of events where that [Gommendy deal] dropped out but we're still optimistic that we'll run a third car at Indy like we always do.”
There had been speculation that the vacant seat could go to Montoya, with the two parties having held discussions after the two-time Indy 500 winner moved across to Penske’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar program without any hope of a fifth Penske-Chevrolet entry at IMS this year. But Schmidt now says a Montoya deal will not happen, despite Penske saying it would not stand in the way of Montoya finding a drive with another team.
“I was told that Roger [Penske] wouldn't let him,” said Schmidt.
SPM has also ruled out running Patrick in the final race of her career, because it would be a “distraction”. Patrick has said that finding drives for her career swansong at NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 have been taking longer than expected.
“We haven't really had any conversations about it, I know she's talked to a few teams,” said Schmidt. “We kind of evaluate it as too much of a distraction with all the fanfare and everything that goes along with it.
“So it's not really high on our list, that's for sure. I think she'll do an excellent job, she'll float back in where she was before… but it's all the stuff that comes with it.”