SEBRING, Fla., Tuesday, March 6, 2012 – While the Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports (SHM) team was packing to travel back to its Indianapolis headquarters to begin preparations for the start of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series after its final test of the pre-season, SHM driver Simon Pagenaud was packing for a whirlwind two weeks of traveling and racing.

From Sebring, Fla., the site of INDYCAR’s official pre-season test this week, Pagenaud will be driving to St. Petersburg where he will participate Wednesday in the INDYCAR pre-season media day. Just hours after his last scheduled interview in St. Petersburg, Pagenaud will board a plane bound for France.

On Friday and Saturday (March 9-10) of this week, Pagenaud will race in the Rallye De La Vienna near his hometown of Poitiers, France, a special race for him. But his visit home will be short as he will be on a plane Monday morning to fly back to Florida and to Sebring International Raceway.

“I will be back in a race car this Thursday to test the rallye car, then the race is Friday and Saturday,” Pagenaud said. “On Monday night, I come back here for the Sebring 12 Hours.”

In Sebring, Pagenaud will compete in the historic 60th Anniversary of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Powered by Fresh from Florida, driving an American Le Mans Series P1 car for Pickett Racing. Pagenaud is the 2010 ALMS P1 driver champion.

He will drive a Honda Performance Development (HPD) prototype with co-drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf in the 12 Hours. After Sebring, Pagenaud will turn his focus back to the IZOD IndyCar Series season, which begins Sunday, March 25 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“I’m going to be in race car basically all the way up to St. Pete, and for me, that’s actually good,” said Pagenaud. “The more you do it, the more natural it is. When I get to St. Pete, I’m going to be warmed up compared to the others guys. I think it’s a big advantage, especially being in different race cars.”

 Pagenaud says that being in different race cars all the time keeps him sharp and focused.

“If it’s always the same car, I think you just get blinded. You expect the car to do something; you don’t go and try to make the car do something else. If you only drive one kind of car, you know the car is going to break here and accelerate there. But that’s exactly what I’m not trying to do. I’m trying to adapt to a situation. If I think the car should break later, it should break later and I’ll set it up for that. So being able to go from one car to another really opens up my mind that way.”

Sebring Testing Notes

Street Course Testing: Sebring International Raceway has been a popular testing venue for IZOD IndyCar Series teams for years. Besides the obvious benefit of being in a warm weather climate, making it one of the few facilities on the East coast suitable for winter testing, Sebring has another characteristic that attracts teams to it. “Sebring is really the only place we can test for street course racing,” said Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports General Manager Rob Edwards. “It’s bumpy. It has some 90-degree corners similar to what we have on a street circuit. So it’s a pretty good indicator of what we experience at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and some of the other street courses.”

Why They Test: “The checklist was pretty long, and we actually didn’t get very much of it done the first day,” said SHM General Manager Rob Edwards. “In a time-honored tradition, I guess that’s why they call it testing. We probably only got two things done on the list Monday, but we learned a lot of other things that will benefit us when we go racing in St. Petersburg.”

Home Sweet Home: Pagenaud said he felt at home immediately at Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports and attributes that feeling to the team’s strong testing performance. “The Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team is doing a great job and that’s making me feel more and more confident,” Pagenaud said. “There are a lot of familiar faces in this team for me, so it already feels like home. That’s one reason we are shining already on the track. We are on pace, and it’s just a matter of fine tuning here and there.”

The Stats: Driving the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car, Pagenaud completed exactly a total of 200 laps Monday and Tuesday during the IZOD IndyCar Series’ official pre-season test at Sebring International Raceway. The SHM crew also executed several ‘hot’ pit stops toward the end of Tuesday’s practice. Asked how he feels about the performance of Pagenaud and the SHM team heading into the season opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, SHM General Manager Rob Edwards said one word, “Ecstatic.”

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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.