SPM Commits to Third Indy 500 Car, Wont Run Patrick, Montoya
Team Co-Owner Sam Schmidt confirms his intentions to run a third car at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, but refutes big names for a ride.
Winning Indianapolis is the goal for every driver, team owner, and mechanic in the Indycar series. Yes, winning the championship is nice, but at the end of the day a win at Indianapolis is what history remembers.
As such, if able, most if not all, Indycar teams run or attempt to run an additional car during The Month of May.
This year, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is no exception.
Sam Schmidt, Co-Owner of the eponymous Schmidt Peterson team, confirmed his intention to run a third car at the Brickyard, alongside full time drivers James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens.
“We still plan to run a third car,” Schmidt told Motorsport.com. “It was an unfortunate chain of events where that (a potential deal with Tristan Gommendy) dropped out but we're still optimistic that we'll run a third car at Indy like we always do.”
The Gommendy deal was supposedly a partnership between the French former CART driver, SPM, and Former Formula 1 team owner Didier Calmels.
That deal, as Schmidt said, ultimately fell through, but the team's plans to run a third car remain intact.
Danica Patrick - Photo Credit: Autoweek
With a fresh crop of rookies finally making their way into Indycar for the 2018 season, it would appear Schmidt has plenty of options on who to offer a 500 drive to, but he has ruled out two of the most high profile drivers already, Danica Patrick and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Patrick, who is the first and only woman to ever lead a lap of the Indianapolis 500, announced her retirement from racing late last year, but has expressed her interest in running America's two premiere evens, Daytona and Indianapolis, one last time.
However, according to Schmidt, signing Patrick would be a distraction.
“So it's not really high on our list, that's for sure," he said. "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.”
As for two time 500 winner, Juan Pablo Montoya, it would appear that the Colombian's deal with Team Penske in the IMSA WeatherTech Spots Car Championship is too ironclad to even consider an attempt to sign him for an Indianapolis one-off.
Conor Daly in Detroit, during his stint with SPM, subbing for the injured James Hinchcliffe. Photo Credit: Bret Kelley/Indycar
There are many bright and promising rookies that Peterson could be eyeing, but as for veterans the team faces fewer options. Conor Daly, whose options for a full time ride seem to be dwindling by the minute, would certainly be high on SPMs list. The young Daly certainly has talent and with his recent high profile appearance on CBS's The Amazing Race, securing a sponsor for the young American may be far easier than it would have been in year's past.
Other drivers to consider would be former Penske driver Ryan Briscoe, who has a good relationship with the team after subbing part the 2015 season for the injured James Hinchcliffe.
Another likely possibility would be signing Santiago Urrutia, the 21 year old Uruguayan driver who racked up 4 wins for the SPM Indy Lights team back in 2016 (he also won 2 races and finished 2nd in the 2017 championship for Belardi Auto Racing).
Whichever way Schmidt Peterson Motorsports decides to go, the good news for race fans everywhere is that there will be another car in the field of 33 making the possibility of there actually being bump at this year's bump day, all the more likely.