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It will be a reunion of a championship team when Jay Howard joins Sam Schmidt Motorsports in an attempt to qualify for the 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500. In 2006, Howard earned the Firestone Indy Lights championship by winning two races and recording five top-five finishes while driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. In May, Howard will be behind the wheel of a SSM-prepared car.
“With the success we had as a team in 2006, I can’t wait until May gets here,” said Howard, a veteran of nine IZOD IndyCar Series races. “SSM puts together a great race car and I like my chances for racing in this historic Indianapolis 500. I definitely have some unfinished business at Indy.”
Despite being one of the fastest cars in practice on the final day of qualifications last year, Howard’s bid to make his first Indy 500 fell short. After posting a four-lap average speed in a Sarah Fisher Racing car early in the day to qualify for the race, Howard was bumped from the 33-car field by Formula One veteran Takuma Sato in the final few minutes.
“I remember watching that final hour of qualifying from our garage in Gasoline Alley last year,” said Schmidt, whose Firestone Indy Lights team has won the past two Firestone Freedom 100 races. “I felt sorry for Jay, knowing him personally and how bad he wanted it, but that is part of the drama of Indy. This year, it is our goal to provide the best possible equipment and personnel to allow Jay to show his true potential to everyone.”
Schmidt has visited victory lane 37 times as a car owner in Firestone Indy Lights, -- including five times at Indianapolis -- and this will be his team's 10th anniversary of fielding a car in the Indianapolis 500.