INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 – As the old motorsports saying goes, ‘fast in practice doesn’t pay’ and that also applies to pre-season testing as well. But anytime a team has one of the fastest cars on the racetrack, the team is getting something for its efforts.After private testing sessions in Florida and Alabama last week where the No. 77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) IZOD IndyCar Series car was consistently near the top of the speed charts, the team is being paid handsomely – not in money – but in confidence.

“Let’s say it’s good when the car feels fast like it did last week,” said Simon Pagenaud, SSM’s new driver in 2012. “The boys at SSM did an awesome job preparing the No. 77 car. In Barber we started our program and carried it on into Sebring. We still have some improvements to make, but let’s just say that I am really excited about getting to the first race of the year.”

The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season starts with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 25 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

SSM General Manager Rob Edwards echoed Pagenaud’s praise in the performance of the No. 77 Dallara/Honda/Firestone car and its team.

“Last week was a really successful week for the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team,” said Edwards. “We were able to work through a comprehensive test plan for both Barber and Sebring which allowed us to escalate our learning curve of the new DW12. I have been especially impressed by the progress made by Honda who, as always, are great partners to work with.”

The SSM team tested four days last week. Two days were spent at Barber Motorsports Park just east of Birmingham, Ala. Barber is the site of the IZOD IndyCar Series’ second race of the season, the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama on April 1. The team completed 357 miles of testing in Alabama.

Using Wednesday as a travel day, the SSM team moved to Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, a popular winter testing ground for IndyCar teams. At Sebring, Pagenaud completed 243 miles over the two days of testing.    

 “On the team side, the synergy between the engineers and Simon has been exciting to see,” said Edwards. “The existing relationships within the engineering group and with Simon have helped a lot of progress to be made very quickly. The guys have been busy over the winter, and it is good to get the results of their work onto the race car.”

Upon returning to its Indianapolis-based race shop, the SSM team immediately started preparing the No. 77 car for a return to Sebring for the official IZOD IndyCar Series pre-season test. SSM will be focusing on its St. Petersburg set-up during that two-day test. Also back in Indianapolis, Pagenaud could barely contain his confidence and excitement.

“The engineers, the crew, the HPD engineers and myself are jelling real well,” said Pagenaud. “Honda is doing a great job with the engines. The fans are going to love these cars. They sound great and really tear up the asphalt.”

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About Sam Schmidt Motorsports: 
Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) was established in 2001 and is owned by former driver Sam Schmidt, who was paralyzed (quad) in 2000 after an accident during testing at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. As a car owner, Schmidt fields cars in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, and the Firestone Indy Lights championship. SSM is the most successful team in Firestone Indy Lights history with 46 race wins and five championships. In addition, SSM has qualified 12 cars in the Indianapolis 500 since 2001 and, in 2011, won the coveted Indy 500 pole.