Verizon IndyCar Series squad Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have put an end to rumours that had been circulating stating that Juan Pablo Montoya or Danica Patrick could drive their third car in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
The rumours of a deal with Montoya or Patrick started after a previous deal for SPM’s third car for Indianapolis fell through. SPM had signed a deal with French team Calmels Sport to put Tristan Gommendy in the first car for the race in May, however, it was announced last month that the deal was off after unforeseen complications.
Since then, many have begun speculating as to who will drive the third car now. This, naturally, led to both Montoya and Patrick’s names being thrown into the ring. Montoya, who has driven in the last four Indianapolis 500’s since making his return to IndyCar, no longer has his Team Penske IndyCar seat after a recent reshuffle saw him and Helio Castroneves moved to their IMSA Sportscar Championship squad.
Similarly, Danica Patrick announced back in November, prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, that she was aiming to compete in both the Daytona 500 in February and the Indianapolis 500 in May to bid farewell to her motorsport career before she retires from competition. With no deals yet on the table, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports were thought to be a possible avenue for Patrick to make her long-awaited return to the Brickyard; where she last raced in 2011.
However, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner, Sam Schmidt, put pay to these rumours on Tuesday, stating that neither Montoya or Patrick will be in their third Honda for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
“We still plan to run a third car,” said Schmidt. “It was an unfortunate chain of events where that [Calmels/Gommendy deal] dropped out but we’re still optimistic that we’ll run a third car at Indy like we always do.”
Schmidt went on to state that despite previous reports stating otherwise, he was told that Montoya’s boss, Roger Penske, wouldn’t allow him to race for a rival team; despite having been moved to IMSA.
As for the rumours regarding Patrick, Sam stated that whilst there hadn’t been any talks between SPM and Danica, he had concerns regarding the huge publicity and expectation that would come hand in hand with signing Patrick for her last race.
“We haven’t really had any conversations about it, I know she’s talked to a few teams,” continued Schmidt,
“I don’t know, we kind of evaluate it as too much of a distraction with all the fanfare and everything that goes along with it. So it’s not really high on our list, that’s for sure. I think she’ll do an excellent job, she’ll float back in where she was before but it’s all the stuff that comes up with it.”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will contest the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series with their two full-time drivers, James Hinchcliffe and rookie Robert Wickens. The third car for the Indianapolis 500 remains unfilled as of yet, but an announcement is expecting in the coming weeks or months.
The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series get’s underway on March 11 with the Grand Prix of St Petersburg.