"This is a fantastic win-win for both AFS Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports," said Schmidt, who fields the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins full-season entry with driver Alex Tagliani. "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."
The No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., car with Raphael Matos behind the wheel competed in the first four events of the season. He had a best finish of seventh in the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Schmidt said the driver for the remainder of the season will be announced later.
AFS Racing won two consecutive Firestone Indy Lights championships (in 2008 with Matos). Peterson partnered with Andretti Autosport in 2010 to enter two IZOD IndyCar Series races, and announced his intentions to compete in the series for 2011.
"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."
07/07/11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports is expanding again. The team that won the pole for this year's Indianapolis 500 with driver Alex Tagliani has entered into an agreement with AFS Racing to co-enter the No. 17 car alongside Tagliani's No. 77 at all Izod IndyCar Series races starting with next month's race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
A driver has not been announced. AFS has fielded Rafa Matos this season. Matos's best finish was a seventh at St. Petersburg, Fla., to open the season. AutoWeek