IPS: Nashville: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

Driving in Circles, Southern Style Sam Schmidt Motorsports Heads To Nashville Superspeedway Rookie drivers Travis Gregg, Jamie Camara and Chris Festa - second, third and fourth in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series point standings - get ready to...

Driving in Circles, Southern Style
Sam Schmidt Motorsports Heads To Nashville Superspeedway

Rookie drivers Travis Gregg, Jamie Camara and Chris Festa - second, third and fourth in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series point standings - get ready to take the Sam Schmidt Motorsports' tradition of dominance to a concrete oval race track nestled just to the east of a city known as the hotbed of the country music industry.

Chris Festa, 19, of Atlanta, Ga., is a Southerner by American terms, but globally speaking, his Brazilian teammate has him beat on Southern roots. Festa pulled to fourth in the series with 178 points after his third-place finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course. He has one runner-up finish at Phoenix and led his first MIPS lap at Texas, where he qualified second. The teenager drives Schmidt's #19 SpacePak, CareCentric entry and attends classes at Florida State University.

Jaime Camara, 24, is a Brazilian native living in Miami, Fla., and he heads into Nashville third in the standings with 181 points. Driving Schmidt's #1 CELG, Goias entry, Camara has one pole position (Indianapolis), two outside pole positions (Homestead, Phoenix), one win (Indianapolis) and one runner-up finish this season (Homestead).

Travis Gregg, who drives Schmidt's #7 Lucas Oil Special, holds second in the point standings with 217 points, just 10 points out of first place. At 27 years of age, the native of Camden, Ohio, has three pole positions (Miami, Phoenix, Texas), two victories (Miami, Texas) and has led 154 laps in the MIPS this season.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports is also a means of promoting and publicizing the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. The Foundation was created by Schmidt to help individuals overcome spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders. Schmidt is currently recovering from serious upper spinal cord injuries suffered in a testing accident on January 6, 2000 while practicing for the season-opening Indy Racing League event at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. Further information is available at www.samschmidt.org or (317) 236-9999.

Schmidt's rookie lineup is very excited about the speeds and adventure of racing at Nashville Superspeedway.

Here are some thoughts from the drivers and owner going into Nashville:

SAM SCHMIDT, Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports:

"We love Nashville. I even listen to all country music while I'm there.

"Seriously, we've had a lot of success at Nashville. We finished third in 2001 and fourth in 2002 while competing in the IndyCar Series; we swept the pole and race in last year's Pro Series race."

"The Sam Schmidt Motorsports engineers and crew have always been able to find a certain amount of mechanical grip while maintaining speed on the short ovals and that makes it very exciting for us to head into races at tracks like Nashville and Milwaukee. Our guys just do an excellent job with the cars, and with the three guys driving the cars this season, I can't wait to see what we can do."

CHRIS FESTA, #19 SpacePak, CareCentric, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"This weekend will almost be like a hometown race for me. It's a short trip - it's only about three and a half hours to drive from Atlanta. Maybe some of my friends will get to see me race so they'll know what I've been trying to tell them all these years about why I like open-wheel racing better than stock cars."

"I'm looking forward to racing at Nashville. It'll be interesting to deal with the concrete track surface and the high speeds. Sam has had a lot of success racing at Nashville, so I know I'll have a great car; that means I'll be able to focus on racing the track and working on the best line around the track."

TRAVIS GREGG, #7 Lucas Oil Special, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"Nashville Superspeedway hasn't been around for a long time but it's already starting to build a tradition. I know the people in the area are great fans of motorsports, and that makes you feel pretty good."

"I know they have been disappointed in not getting a NASCAR Cup race there but they have to be pretty excited about having the IRL in town. The racing in the IRL and Infiniti Pro Series has been great all year. True, it won't be like the old slam, bang stock car races they used to have at the track at the Fairgrounds but I think the folks who come out are going to see a great race. The competition in the Pro Series and Indycars is pretty stout -- if you like passing, you're going to see a lot of it."

"I'm really looking forward to it. I was able to get a couple hours of track time a few weeks ago to familiarize myself with the track. Being a concrete oval, it has some bumps and a slightly different grip level than the asphalt tracks. Car setup is going to be key. I'm ready for the challenge and I'm ready to fight to regain the points lead."

JAIME CAMARA, #1 CELG, Goias, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"The race at Nashville Superspeedway should be very good. Last year, Sam's car dominated the race, and I think everyone at the team is really excited to get back to the track. I'm hoping the weekend will be very successful for me and for the race team."

"They've been giving me a hard time over going to a Southern race track but, hey, I'm the southernest Southerner in the Infiniti Pro Series. (laughing) Anybody from further south than Brazil or live further south than Miami? Hey, in my neighborhood (Miami), Nashville is 'up North.' Now all I need to do is figure out how to say 'Ya'll' in Portugese."

"Every track Sam had success last year, we've had really good cars this year. I feel we'll all three be ready to go."

-www.samschmidtmotorsports.com

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg , Jaime Camara , Jamie Camara