By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Howard reunites with Schmidt for Indianapolis 500
2. Patrick earns Hall of Game honor
3. Sarah Fisher Racing links up with Allison Transmissions for Indy
1. Howard reunites with Schmidt for Indianapolis 500: It will be a reunion of a championship team when Jay Howard joins Sam Schmidt Motorsports in an attempt to qualify for the 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500.
In 2006, Howard earned the Firestone Indy Lights championship by winning two races and recording five top-five finishes while driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. In May, Howard will be behind the wheel of a SSM-prepared car.
“With the success we had as a team in 2006, I can’t wait until May gets here,” said Howard, a veteran of nine IZOD IndyCar Series races. “SSM puts together a great race car and I like my chances for racing in this historic Indianapolis 500. I definitely have some unfinished business at Indy.”
Despite being one of the fastest cars in practice on the final day of qualifications last year, Howard’s bid to make his first Indy 500 fell short. After posting a four-lap average speed in a Sarah Fisher Racing car early in the day to qualify for the race, Howard was bumped from the 33-car field by Formula One veteran Takuma Sato in the final few minutes.
“I remember watching that final hour of qualifying from our garage in Gasoline Alley last year,” said Schmidt, whose Firestone Indy Lights team has won the past two Firestone Freedom 100 races. “I felt sorry for Jay, knowing him personally and how bad he wanted it, but that is part of the drama of Indy. This year, it is our goal to provide the best possible equipment and personnel to allow Jay to show his true potential to everyone.”
Schmidt has visited victory lane 37 times as a car owner in Firestone Indy Lights, — including five times at Indianapolis — and this will be his team’s 10th anniversary of fielding a car in the Indianapolis 500.
2. Patrick earns Hall of Game honor: Danica Patrick has been the recipient of numerous awards during her motorsports career, and now she’s receiving one from the Cartoon Network.
The IZOD IndyCar Series star was voted the award for “She’s Got Game” (best female athlete) as part of the inaugural sports awards show, Cartoon Network Hall of Game Awards. Other nominees were skier Lindsey Vonn, golfer Michelle Wie and tennis player Serena Williams.
The show, hosted by Tony Hawk, airs on the Cartoon Network at 7 p.m. (ET) Feb. 25.
Other category winners include Dance Machine (The award for the best celebratory dance; NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens); Dynamic Duo (jockey Michael Smith and his horse Zenyatta); Fanatic Fanstars (most passionate fan base — Green Bay Packers’ Cheeseheads); Gnarliest Newb (top rookie; Blake Griffin of Los Angeles Clippers).
3. Sarah Fisher Racing links up with Allison Transmissions for Indy: Sarah Fisher Racing announced it will partner with Speedway, Ind.-based Allison Transmission for the 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Allison Transmission will serve as an associate sponsor on the yellow and black No. 67 driven by Ed Carpenter.
“Sponsoring Sarah Fisher’s No. 67 car and driver Ed Carpenter makes good sense for Allison Transmission,” said Lou Gilbert, Allison Transmission’s Director of North American Marketing. “Allison Transmission and SFR are neighbors in Speedway, Ind., and Carpenter is a well-known Hoosier open-wheel driver.
“Over the years, we have all worked together in various community and customer related activities and we are especially happy to be a part of this historic 100th anniversary Indianapolis Motor Speedway race.”
Team owner Sarah Fisher, who announced plans of her driving retirement in November 2010, is welcomes Allison Transmission as a team partner.
“Allison Transmission and the many people I know who work there continue to support me and all the members of my racing team,” Fisher said. “It’s a great feeling, and I appreciate Allison’s sponsorship of our car this year. I couldn’t be more excited for this year’s Indianapolis 500, and I’m thrilled to have Allison Transmission be a part of it with us.”
Jim Allison, 100 years ago, was one of the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the founder of what has become Allison Transmission Inc. Much like our own Sarah Fisher, Mr. Allison was also a team owner and his team competed in many Indianapolis Motor Speedway races, culminating in a win during the 1919 Indy 500.
Allison Transmission’s sponsorship will include the placement of its logo in six locations on the No. 67 car.
“My enthusiasm for Allison’s commitment to the team is off the charts,” said Carpenter, who will make his debut with Sarah Fisher Racing in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27. “We’re ready to go racing.”