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Sam Schmidt Motorsports & Alex Tagliani Earn Pole for Indianapolis 500 but End race early

Tag With Wall Ends Tagliani’s Day At Indy

Canadian Finishes Disappointing 28th After Starting on the Pole

Date:                 May 29, 2011
Event:               100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (Round 5 of 17)
Series:              IZOD IndyCar Series
Location:           Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish:       1st/28th (Accident, completed 147 of 200 laps)
Winner:             Dan Wheldon of Bryan Herta Autosport

Alex Tagliani started on the pole for the historic 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile race, but a brush with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wall ended a storybook month of May for the Canadian driver and his Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) team, finishing a disappointing 28th.

While struggling with an ill-handling No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone car, Tagliani drifted high while passing rookie J.R. Hildebrand in turn four on lap 147 and brushed the wall with the right side of his car. While he was able to continue to the pits, his crew determined the contact was strong enough to end Tagliani’s day 53 laps short of the finish.

It was a tough end to what had been a tremendous month for the Bowers & Wilkins driver. He was fast all month and became the first Canadian driver to start on the pole.

“The Bowers & Wilkins 77 car was fairly competitive early in the race,” said Tagliani, who led 20 of the first 34 laps. “I can’t thank enough my team. They did a fantastic job all month long. We had a really good, balanced car early on. It was nice to drive it. Then all of the sudden, it became very loose. I couldn’t really get it back on track, you know, with all the tools I had in the car. So we were struggling with a very nervous car. In one of our pit stops we thought we fixed it, but we didn’t.

“It’s a shame, because early on the car was so good I thought we had a shot at it all race long. But we kind of lost the car at some point; very curious. When the car became loose, I don’t think we were going to become a threat. It was a shame, because early on I think we had something for them. It’s something we’re going to have to look at. I don’t know why exactly the car became loose.”

Tagliani’s SSM teammate, Townsend Bell, finished 26th after being involved in an accident with Ryan Briscoe in turn one on lap 157.

“They dug all month,” Schmidt said. “The 77 (Tagliani) and 99 (Bell) worked really well together and had fast cars. Unfortunately, they both got a little out of sequence. We probably should’ve finished at least second or third when all was said and done. You can’t second guess what happens in the race, and that is what this place is all about.”

Dan Wheldon won the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in an incredible finish that saw Hildebrand crash in turn four on the final lap while leading. Wheldon, who was six seconds behind, flew past Hildebrand’s wounded machine to score his second ‘500’ victory as he also won in 2005. Wheldon drove for Bryan Herta Autosport, which had a technical alliance with SSM throughout the month of May.

“At least we got a little piece of that car rolling up on victory circle right there,” Schmidt said. “It was Brian’s (Herta) turn, and that’s cool.”

Hildebrand finished second, while Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon rounded out the top-five. Oriol Servia, Bertrand  Baguette, Tomas Scheckter, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were seven caution periods for 40 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish.

The next event on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule is the June 11 Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway. The event begins at 8 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by VERSUS.  

 

Mid-Race Accident Ends Bell’s Strong Run

Sam Schmidt Motorsports Driver Finishes Disappointing 26th in Indianapolis 500 

Date:               May 29, 2011
Event:              100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (Round 5 of 17)
Series:             IZOD IndyCar Series
Location:          Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish:     4th/26th (Accident, completed 157 of 200 laps)
Winner:           Dan Wheldon of Bryan Herta Autosport                   

 

Townsend Bell started fourth and was in the top-five for much of the first three-quarters of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, but an accident following a restart on lap 158 of 200 caused him to finish a disappointing 26th.

The driver of the No. 99 Herbalife24 Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) was not injured.

After a caution on lap 148 due to an accident involving his SSM teammate and pole-winner Alex Tagliani, Bell relinquished his sixth-place position and headed to pit lane for four fresh Firestone tires and fuel.

Several cars opted to stay out and gamble on fuel and because of that, Bell was forced to restart 11th when the green flag flew on lap 155. It was the furthest back all day that Bell had restarted, but he managed to gain two positions in two laps and appeared to be charging through the field.

Unfortunately, he would not complete another lap as his Herbalife24 car made contact with the car of Ryan Briscoe as the duo entered turn one on lap 158. Both cars slid to the outside of the track together and made contact with the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall at the exit of the first turn. Both machines then slid to a stop connected to each other against the outside retaining wall in the short chute. Briscoe, like Bell, was not injured.

“It’s a shame,” said Bell who is only scheduled to compete in the Indianapolis 500 this season. “The Herbalife24 car was competitive here, running up front. I’ll have to see the replay, but it seems like somebody hit me in my left rear, I think it was Ryan (Briscoe). I saved it in turn one and whammo, it got me again and pinned me in the wall. I hate to end the race this way. We were running strong and had a top-five car, so to bring the car home in a dumpster is pretty disappointing.”

After having both SSM cars in the top-10 for much of the event, team owner Sam Schmidt saw both of his cars head to the garage within 10 laps of each other. Tagliani, who led twice for 20 laps, finished 28th after completing only 147 trips around the 2.5-mile oval.

“They dug all month,” Schmidt said. “The 77 (Tagliani) and 99 (Bell) worked really well together and had fast cars. Unfortunately, they both got a little out of sequence. We probably should’ve finished at least second or third when all was said and done. You can’t second guess what happens in the race, and that is what this place is all about.”

Dan Wheldon won the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in an incredible finish that saw rookie J.R. Hildebrand crash in turn four on the final lap while leading. Wheldon, who was six seconds behind, flew past Hildebrand’s wounded machine to score his second ‘500’ victory. Wheldon, who also won in 2005, drove for Bryan Herta Autosport, which had a technical alliance with SSM throughout the month of May. Neither Wheldon, nor Bryan Herta Autosport, compete full-time in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

“At least we got a little piece of that car rolling up on victory circle,” Schmidt said. “It was Brian’s (Herta) turn, and that’s cool.”

Hildebrand finished second, while Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon rounded out the top-five. Oriol Servia, Bertrand Baguette, Tomas Scheckter, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were seven caution periods for 40 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish.

The next event on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule is the June 11 Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway. The event begins at 8 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by VERSUS.


Round 5 of 17 – 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race

Car No.: 77 – Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone (Starting 1st)
Teammate: Townsend Bell – No. 99 Herbalife24 Dallara/Honda/Firestone (Starting 4th)

At-Track PR Contact: Ron Green, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388, ext. 808) or Ron.Green@TrueSpeedCommunication.com

Primary Team Members (numbers in parentheses indicates number of Indy 500s in which team members have participated):

Driver: Alex Tagliani (2)
Hometown: Lachenaie, Quebec, Canada
Crew Chief: Don Oldenburg (2)
Hometown: Villa Park, Ill.
Team Manager: Rob Edwards (19)
Hometown: Bishops Storford, England (Born in New Jersey)
Spotter: Alex Nagy (2)
Hometown: Toronto
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Inside Front Tire Changer: Michael Langston (1)
Hometown: Pearl, Miss.
Outside Front Tire Changer: Brendon Cleave (3)
Hometown: Reglan, New Zealand
Inside Rear Tire Changer: Keith Beck (8)
Hometown: Papatoetoe, New Zealand (pronounced “papaTOweeTOwee”)
Outside Rear Tire Changer: Don Oldenburg (2)
Hometown: Villa Park, Ill.
Fueler: Phil McRobert (10)
Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand
Air Jacks: Krag Oglesby (6)
Hometown: Everett, Wash.
Road Crew Members:
Engineer: Allen McDonald (9)
Hometown: London
Assistant Engineer: Brendon Cleave (3)
Hometown: Reglan, New Zealand
Assistant Engineer: Robert Gue (3)
Hometown: Atlanta
Data Engineer: Craig Luba (6)
Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
Truck Drivers: Michael “Mack” McCormack (13) and Jason Bolles (4)
Hometowns: Scituate, Mass., and Fairley, Vt., respectively
Tire Specialist: Jason Bolles (4)
Hometown: Fairley, Vt.
Inside Tire Backup: Mike Miller (3)
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Dead Man: Gary Michalak (3)
Hometown: Atlanta

 

Sam Schmidt Racing Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Anecdotes:

Team owner Sam Schmidt made Indianapolis 500 starts as a driver in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He failed to finish all three races but qualified sixth in 1998 and seventh in 1999.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) has qualified 12 cars in the Indianapolis 500 since the team was founded in 2001. Davey Hamilton (2001), Mark Dismore (2002), Richie Hearn (2002-2005), Airton Dare (2006), Buddy Lazier (2007), Alex Lloyd (2009), Townsend Bell (2010, 2011) and Alex Tagliani (2011) have all competed under the SSM banner.

SSM’s best result in the Indianapolis 500 came in 2002 via Hearn, who qualified 22nd and finished sixth.

Prior to Tagliani winning the pole and Bell qualifying fourth for the 2011 “500,” the best starting position for an SSM car came in 2010 when Bell qualified 10th.

SSM’s Firestone Indy Lights teams have won five of the eight Freedom 100 races conducted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Thiago Medeiros (2004), Jamie Camara (2005), Alex Lloyd (2007) and Wade Cunningham (2009-2010) have all driven to victory lane for SSM at Indianapolis.

 

 

Sam Schmidt Motorsports
100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Team Report Page Two



Notes of Interest:

The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 will be Alex Tagliani’s 162nd start in a major open-wheel race. He has 29 IZOD IndyCar Series starts to go with his 132 Champ Car races.

Tagliani has career totals of one win (Champ Car), five poles (including the 2011 Indianapolis 500), 33 top-fives, 82 top-10s and 460 laps led in 161 major open-wheel races. His lone victory came in 2004 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

This is the first Indianapolis 500 pole for Tagliani. His previous best start was fifth in 2010 with the FAZZT Race Team.

Tagliani is the first Canadian-born driver to win the Indianapolis 500 pole. The previous best starting spot for a Canadian driver was third by Scott Goodyear in 1995. Tagliani is a native of Lachenaie, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal.

Tagliani became the first driver to win the pole carrying the No. 77. He also became the first driver with a double-digit number to win the pole since Tony Kanaan took No. 11 to the top spot in 2005.

Anniversary: While the Indianapolis 500 is celebrating its 100th anniversary, the 2011 IZOD IndyCar season marks the 10th anniversary for SSM. Schmidt started his team in 2001 after suffering career-ending injuries in a testing accident in 2000. In that 2001 season, SSM started all 13 Firestone Indy Lights Series races and scored a pole with driver Jacques Lazier at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

Home Sweet Home: Tagliani and his wife Bronte now call Indianapolis home after living in Las Vegas for several years. The couple lives in an apartment in the Meridian-Kessler area but is in the process of moving to a new apartment in Carmel, an Indianapolis suburb just a short distance from the Sam Schmidt Motorsports IndyCar shop.

Tagliani was the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year. After starting 33rd, Tagliani charged through the field for an 11th-place finish.

Hey, Buddy, Do You Have the Time? Ask Alex Tagliani that question and he’ll proudly roll up his sleeve and check the time on his Jorg Gray special-edition Alex Tagliani timepiece. Tagliani was chosen by the high-end watch company Jorg Gray to be its celebrity spokesperson in 2011. Only 226 timepieces were made of the special-edition Tagliani model – commemorating Tagliani’s 226-mph qualifying speed at Indy in 2010. A Jorg Gray watch is the preferred timepiece of the current United States Secret Service presidential detail.

Sheet Time: No driver wants to spend “sheet time,” which is a racing term for ending up in a hospital bed after an accident. Tagliani, however, started the 2010 month of May doing just that. When the other drivers were practicing on Opening Day 2010, Tagliani was hooked to an IV and was on a respirator in Indianapolis’ Methodist Hospital as a result of a severe case of bronchitis. He was still very weak when he qualified fifth on Pole Day.

If These Walls Could Talk: The cars for Tagliani and Bell are housed in garages A12-A16 in the southwest corner of Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is the 26th year for the current garage bays, which were constructed in time for the 70th Indianapolis 500 in 1986. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the current SSM section of the garage housed Galles Racing, including drivers Al Unser Jr., and Bobby Rahal. Unser Jr., won the 76th Indianapolis 500 in 1992 and his car was housed in garage A12. In 1995, Walker Racing worked out of the A12-A16 section of Gasoline Alley, and garage A12 was home to Christian Fittipaldi’s car that he drove to a second-place finish that year. The runner-up result earned him Rookie of the Year honors.

Traveling Man: Following the conclusion of on-track activity Sunday night, Tagliani boarded a flight to Toronto early Monday morning to participate in a six-hour media tour. He then boarded a plane Monday night and flew to Bristol, Conn., and spent all day Tuesday doing interviews at ESPN headquarters.

Fun With Numbers: Not only has car number 77 never won the Indianapolis 500, no car with a number between 70 and 79 has ever been to victory lane in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Perhaps more interesting is that cars carrying single-digit numbers and numbers in the teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s 80s and 90s have all been to victory lane. Only the 70s have been left out. Tagliani and his No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda Firestone team for SSM are certainly hoping to change that Sunday.

Age-Old Question: Tagliani is looking to become the fifth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 at age 37. He would join Wilbur Shaw (1940), George Robson (1946), Graham Hill (1966) and Dario Franchitti (2010). Tagliani would also become the second driver from Canada to win the “500,” joining 1995 winner Jacques Villeneuve.

Alex Tagliani’s Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Performance Profile:
Year
Date
Event
Start
Finish
Status/Laps
Laps Led
Earnings

2010
5/30
94th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
5
10
Running, 200/200
0
$302,805

2009
5/24
93rd Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
33#
11
Running, 200/200
0
$295,305
#Bruno Junqueira qualified the car 30th but, when Tagliani took over for the race, he was forced to start 33rd, per IndyCar rules.

 

Sam Schmidt Motorsports
100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Team Report Page Three

Alex Tagliani’s 2011 Month of May Practice Performance Profile:
Date
Car
Top Time/Speed
Rank
Lap

Total Laps
Miles 5/14/2011 Did Not Run 5/15/2011 Practice Canceled (Rain) 5/16/2011 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.8445 seconds / 225.878 mph 1 16 17 42.5 5/17/2011 Did Not Run 5/18/2011 Practice Canceled (Rain) 5/19/2011 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.5340 seconds at 227.652 mph 2 16 18 45 5/20/2011 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.4172 seconds at 228.327 mph 2 5 26 65 5/21/2011 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.4418 seconds at 228.184 mph 1 3 12 30 5/22/2011 Did Not Run Totals 73 182.5


Townsend Bell’s Qualifying Attempt 1 – Saturday, May 21 – 11:14 p.m. (EDT)
Lap
Car
Time/ Avg. Speed 1 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.6587 seconds at 226.936 mph 2 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.6240 seconds at 227.135 mph 3 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.6682 seconds at 226.882 mph 4 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.6718 seconds at 226.861 mph Total 2:38.6227 seconds at 226.954 mph


Townsend Bell’s Qualifying Attempt 2 – “Fast Nine” – Saturday, May 21 – 6:03 p.m. (EDT)
Lap
Car
Time/ Avg. Speed 1 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.5200 seconds at 227.733 mph 2 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.5626 seconds at 227.488 mph 3 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.5726 seconds at 227.430 mph 4 No. 77 B&W Dallara/Honda/Firestone 39.6061 seconds at 227.238 mph Total 2:38.2613 seconds at 227.472 mph


Sam Schmidt Motorsports Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Performance Profile:
Year
Date
Driver
Start
Finish
Status/Laps
Laps Led
Earnings

2010
5/30
Townsend Bell
10
16
Running, 199/200
0
$251,805

2009
5/24
Alex Lloyd
11
13
Running, 200/200
0
$270,305

2007
5/27
Buddy Lazier
22
19
Running, 164/166*
0
$216,805

2006
5/28
Airton Dare
29
18
Running, 193/200
0
$216,805

2005
5/29
Richie Hearn
20
25
Accident, 112/200
0
$202,305

2004
5/30
Richie Hearn
30
20
Running, 178/180*
0
$207,740

2003
5/25
Richie Hearn
28
28
Accident, 61/200
0
$142,565
2002
5/26

Richie Hearn
22
6
Running, 200/200
0
$330,815
2002
5/26

Mark Dismore
33
32
Handling, 58/200
0
$145,314
2001
5/27

Davey Hamilton
26
23
Engine, 182/200
0
$280,325
* Race cut short due to weather.


Sam Schmidt’s Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Performance Profile as a Driver:
Year
Date
Event
Start
Finish
Status/Laps
Laps Led
Earnings

1999
5/30
83rd Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
7
30
Accident, 62/200
4
$213,800

1998
5/24
82nd Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
6
26
Accident, 48/200
0
$215,300

1997
5/27
×81st Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
23
34
Engine, 0/200
0
$150,250
× Starting field expanded to 35 cars.


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