Inotes:/I Hearn Schroeder Back
March 22, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Hearn will replace the injured Anthony Lazzaro in the No. 99 Dallara-Chevy out of Sam Schmidt’s stable, and Schroeder is replacing the retired Tyce Carlson in PDM Racing’s No. 18 Dallara-Chevy for this weekend’s inaugural Yamaha Indy 400 at California.
Lazzaro was injured on Lap 103 of Sunday’s Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. He suffered a compression fracture of the T-5 vertebrae and has not been cleared to drive. He is expected to be out two to four weeks.
Carlson spun and hit the wall in practice at Phoenix and decided to retire from the IRL as a driver and concentrate on team ownership.
Hearn and Schmidt have hooked up before. When Jaques Lazier left the team for Team Menard last season, Schmidt called on Hearn to drive at Pikes Peak International Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway. He finished ninth at PPIR an sixth at Chicagoland.
“I'm happy to be in the car this weekend,” Hearn said. “You hate to have it happen this way, but I just want to race. I do wish Anthony a speedy recovery. I have to thank Sam for the opportunity. He had lots of qualified drivers to select from and I'm happy he chose me. It helped having run with him last year with pretty good results as well as my experience here at this track."
In addition to his experience with Schmidt, Hearn has firsthand knowledge of California Speedway. He started three CART races at the high-speed 2-mile oval and led four laps in 1997.
Lazzaro is the second driver to be injured while driving for Schmidt. Veteran Davey Hamilton severely injured his legs in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway last June and still has not returned to racing.
“I feel bad for Anthony,” Schmidt said. “Anthony is leading the rookie points and we were just working toward our motto of ‘Peak in May.’ I guess we're at least lucky that we have experience with a talented driver like Richie, and he's ready to jump in and stand on the gas. We had his seat from last year flown in yesterday.
"Richie has run here before in the CART cars and did a great job for me last year. I have complete confidence in Richie and this entire team. We were quick in testing here and I'm sure we'll have a great weekend.”
Schroeder is making his first appearance in 2002, too. He competed in seven events last season for PDM Racing and Tri Star Motorsports. His best finish was a 12th at Richmond International Raceway.
Schroeder, 32, has 19 career IRL starts since 1997 with a best finish of fourth in 2000 at Las Vegas.
Another Andretti at Indy
For the second consecutive year CART driver Michael Andretti is returning to the Indianapolis 500 with Team Green, but NASCAR Winston Cup driver John Andretti might be joining his cousin this year.
Andretti, driver of Petty Enterprises No. 43, is considering driving in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 26. He was the first driver to undertake the grueling “daily double” in 1994. Since then Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon have turned the feat.
“I sure would like to,” Andretti said. “I've got Kyle's (car owner Kyle Petty) blessing, and we're working toward it and seeing if we can pull something together that's real high quality. If it's not, then I won't do it.
“And also it's got to work in with the plans of my sponsors and everything else, too. I haven't got a full blessing, but I've got a blessing from the Big Guy and now I just have to keep moving along.”