Schmidt Continuing with Second Car


The driver of the No. 17 car will be announced prior to the Aug. 7 Mid-Ohio event. (Photo: Getty Images)


IZOD IndyCar Series team owner Sam Schmidt announced today that his team will partner with AFS Racing to field the No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., IZOD IndyCar entry for the balance of the 2011 season beginning at the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

AFS Racing is owned by Gary Peterson who, like Schmidt, was a former open-wheel racecar driver. Peterson drove in the Firestone Indy Lights Series before transitioning to a full-time team ownership role.

The driver of the No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., racecar will be announced prior to the Aug. 7 Mid-Ohio event. Canadian driver Alex Tagliani drives the No. 77 IZOD IndyCar entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM). He is ninth in the IndyCar point standings.

“This is a fantastic win-win for both AFS Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports,” Schmidt said. “In our pursuit to develop partnerships and relationships to enable the team to compete with two full-time entries in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012, we have secured sponsorship for select races starting with Mid-Ohio, but we didn’t have the equipment or personnel to facilitate the program. Obviously, Gary Peterson and AFS Racing did.”

Schmidt and Peterson share a long history together, and both have a strong desire to win, not just compete.

“I have raced against Gary as both a driver and a team owner for nine years, now, and consider him one of the most competitive people in the paddock,” Schmidt said. “So, I know we will have no problem working together on this program.”

AFS Racing has fielded cars in the Indy Lights series since its inception in 2002, winning two consecutive season championships (2008-2009) and garnering more than 45 podium finishes. In 2011, AFS Racing announced its advancement into the IZOD IndyCar Series with the purchase of two IndyCar chassis. Peterson entered the No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., racecar with driver Rafael Matos. The team’s best finish was seventh at the season’s inaugural race on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It will be fun to race with Sam and his team instead of against them for a change,” Peterson said. “What is that old saying? If you can’t beat them, join them. Sam and I have had a long, competitive relationship as the two top Firestone Indy Lights teams. We’re both former drivers and team owners, so we can relate to each other. One of Sam’s best qualities, which I share, is his passion to win and succeed.

“AFS Racing is known for having some of the best equipment on the track, and I believe we’ve gathered together a good crew for our IndyCar venture. This arrangement with SSM is beneficial for both teams. It will allow us to share personnel, technical advice, overhead costs, etc. It puts us both where we want to be in anticipation of the new cars being released for the 2012 season.”

This year is SSM’s 10th anniversary of fielding cars in INDYCAR. Schmidt started out as a team owner in 2001after his own driving career ended in 2000 following a testing accident at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. Driver Davey Hamilton started 26th in the 2001 Indy 500 in an SSM Dallara and finished 23rd.

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