FORT WORTH, Texas (April 5, 2012) – Frenchman Simon Pagenaud completed his IZOD IndyCar Series rookie test today during two days of private testing at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS), Wednesday and Thursday, April 4-5.
His rookie test was completed on the second day of testing on the high-banks of TMS’ 1.5-mile, tri-oval speedway. Pagenaud drove more than 300 laps during the two days he spent behind the wheel of the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car.
“I enjoyed my first oval experience,” said Pagenaud. “I was running by myself, so it’s a lot easier than running in a pack, but I’m really comfortable and the engineers did a great job making me feel comfortable. This test is all about understanding how the car feels on the oval and getting experience ahead of the Indianapolis 500. I’m just learning. I’m very excited. I’ve started on the right foot.”
Though Pagenaud, 27, brought a wealth of experience to Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2012 having driven several types of high-horsepower cars in his career, he had never competed nor even driven a race car on an oval until Wednesday, April 4.
“He may have ridden on the bus tour around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before, but he had never driven a race car on an oval until yesterday,” said Rob Edwards, general manager for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. “Speed is always relevant, but this test was all about getting Simon comfortable in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP car on an oval. He’s now experienced the car when it feels good on an oval, and he’s now experienced the car when it didn’t feel so good. He was a able to put a lot of things under his belt, and he’ll have time to think about them before he heads to Indianapolis for ROP at the Speedway.”
The official Rookie Orientation Program for rookies of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Thursday, May 10. Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins on Saturday, May 12. The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is Sunday, May 27.
After two IZOD IndyCar Series races in 2012, Pagenaud sits fifth in points after finishes of sixth and fifth at St. Petersburg and Birmingham, respectively.
Pagenaud and the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers will return to Texas Motor Speedway for the Firestone 550 on Saturday night, June 9. Sam Schmidt Motorsports sat on the pole for the 2011 Firestone 550 with driver Alex Tagliani.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., April 13-15.
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 a testing accident 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 Indy Lights with 47 race wins and five championships. In addition, SSM has qualified 12 cars in the Indianapolis 500 since 2001 and, in 2011, won the coveted pole for the Indianapolis 500-mile race.