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Sam Schmidt back in IndyCar after FAZZT buy-out

Sam Schmidt is returning to IndyCar as a full-time team owner after acquiring the assets of the FAZZT Race Team.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports is to mount a full year's campaign in the IZOD IndyCar series after buying up the assets of the FAZZT Race Team in a deal that will also see it take on the FAZZT employees and sole driver - Alex Tagliani.

The team last competed in IndyCar full-time back in 2001/2 but since then has concentrated on the Firestone Indy Lights series with considerable success, winning the title in 2004 (with Thiago Medeiros), 2006 (Jay Howard), 2007 (Alex Lloyd) and 2010 (Jean-Karl Vernay), making it the most successful team in the history of that series. During that time, the team has only made appearances in the main IndyCar series at the Indianapolis 500 where in the last two years it fielded first Alex Lloyd and then Townsend Bell.

"This is a fantastic time for me, my family and everyone at Sam Schmidt Motorsports," said Schmidt yesterday. "We have worked hard to accomplish what we have in the Firestone Indy Lights series and, most importantly, we have built a team around a group of great individuals.

"That, combined with the excellent talent base at FAZZT Racing, should create a powerful combination. This in no way will interrupt our plans to compete strongly for the Indy Lights championship, and we all look forward to the challenge of being equally as competitive in the IZOD IndyCar Series."

Schmidt confirmed that FAZZT part-owner Alex Tagliani would still be the driver of the #77 car, now rebadged as Sam Schmidt Motorsports, and that the buy-out of the year-old FAZZT team did not change Schmidt's previously-announced plans to enter Jay Howard in the Indy 500 and to give Wade Cunningham a three-race try-out at other oval events, and would also not change the team's plans to mount another Indy Lights title bid with Brazilian driver Victor Carbone.

46-year-old Las Vegan Schmidt founded the team in 2001, after a horrific pre-season testing crash at Walt Disney World Speedway the previous year left him a quadriplegic. Inspired by the example of F1's Sir Frank Williams, after his recovery he decided to set up his own race IndyCar team, but following a couple of lacklustre seasons he decided to refocus on the Indy Lights with much more success.

"Though we competed in the IndyCar Series in 2001 and 2002, I can now admit we were naive in our understanding of what it took to be successful at the top level of open-wheel racing in the United States. Ten years later, I have a much better understanding of what it takes to go IndyCar racing."

The new team will also retain FAZZT's sponsor support from Bowers & Wilkins. "Our support for Alex (Tagliani) will transition with him to Sam Schmidt Motorsports," said Joe Atkins, chairman of Bowers & Wilkins. "We are excited about this new relationship and look forward to supporting Sam and the team in any way we can."

Vernay still seeks seat

Meanwhile Jean-Karl Vernay, the 23-year-old Frenchman who won the Indy Lights title last year for Sam Schmidt Motorsport, is still seeking a seat in IndyCar for 2011 but admitted that prospects appear to be fading.




Related Pictures

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16-18 April 2010, Long Beach, California, USA #77 FAZZT Race Team`s Alex Tagliani.
Mike Conway poses for pictures with the team from Ed Carpenter Racing after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway (centre), driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory with champagne Sunday, April 13, 2014 after winning the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. Will Power (right), driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finished second. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 13, 2014 during the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 13, 2014 during the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, raises his arm as he crosses the finish line Sunday, April 13, 2014 to win the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Start of the race. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Start of the race. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Fans watch the racing (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe on course during the 2014 Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park. (Photo Credit: Chris Owens)
James Hinchcliffe on course during the 2014 Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones)
Chevrolet Racing introduces the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Indianapolis 500 pace car Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive the Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the race on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing introduces the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Indianapolis 500 pace car Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive the Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the race on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing announces Tuesday, March 25, 2014 that three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)

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