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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.
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe during practice prior to Qualifying for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Photo by: Leigh Spargur)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon leaves for his qualifying run for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins pole for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins pole for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Doug Mathews for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon car after winning pole for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)

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