Young drivers test with Sam Schmidt Motorsports
With the official announcement that 2007 Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd has signed with Chip Ganassi Racing for 2008, Sam Schmidt Motorsports begins its search to replace Lloyd in earnest.
The team, in conjunction with the Indy Pro Series and Firestone, tested two young, up-and-coming drivers at Sebring International Raceway Oct. 22-23.
Cole Morgan, the 2007 Hankook F2000 champion, and James Davison, who ranks second in Star Mazda, got their first opportunity to drive the 450-hp Indy Pro Series cars.
"It seems like we have to reinvent the wheel every year," said team owner Sam Schmidt, whose drivers have won three of the last four Indy Pro Series championships. "We've had a lot of talented drivers do great things in our cars in the past, but the pressure is always on to continue running well with new drivers every year.
"Personally, offering this test is very rewarding as I only wish this type of opportunity was available when I won the FC National Championship in 1993. I applaud series organizers for making this happen."
Morgan, a 19-year old native of Florida, won the F2000 title on the strength of nine top-five finishes in 10 starts, including six victories.
Along with the championship, Morgan's credentials include many successes in go-kart racing and a second-place finish at the 2006 SCCA Runoffs in the Formula Continental class.
"I am so grateful for this opportunity," Morgan said. "Sam Schmidt has built the most dominant team in the Indy Pro Series, and to be able to test with them is a dream come true. It really shows how committed Sam is to open-wheel racing in the U.S. People as generous as him are few and far between in such a cut-throat sport."
Davison, 21, has a victory and three pole positions to his credit in Star Mazda this season.
Among Davison's other career highlights includes a win at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a Formula BMW race during the 2005 United States Grand Prix.
Having won there once, the Indy bug has bit him, and Davison aspires to win there again.
"I must thank Sam for showing an interest and believing in me," said Davison, whose grandfather Lex Davison won four Australian Grands Prix. "It was my first time in the Indy Pro Series car, and I've never driven something that had so much power or weight. The team, the engineers, they all said how surprised they were that I quickly adapted to the car. The pace and consistency that I demonstrated were all very good. I'm just really happy with how it went."