Citing the need to run the Indianapolis 500 properly, former “500” winner Buddy Rice has opted not to run Sam Schmidt’s third car for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” according to SPEED.com’s Marshall Pruett. Rice had been slated to team up with the Schmidt camp, but was never confirmed on entry lists for the race.
“When we agreed I would drive, it was a program that would start on Wednesday or Thursday and the sponsors we had were cool with that,” Rice told Pruett. “But then it turned into a Bump Day, Carb Day, Race Day-only deal and the sponsors didn’t want to run the short program.
“I appreciated Sam’s effort and Honda was willing to take the risk if they needed 33 cars, but I don’t want to do a Bump Day program just to fill the field.”
Schmidt’s open seat, the No. 99 Honda, does remain in play and drivers such as Katherine Legge, Jay Howard and Bryan Clauson are still supposedly looking for their chance to try and make the show this weekend. However, Schmidt himself has told Pruett that should the No. 99 hit the track, it would likely be “a Sunday deal” — referencing Bump Day, the final session that creates the field for the May 26 race.
Rice won the 2004 Indy 500 with Rahal Letterman Racing and has made six career starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway overall. His last “500” came in 2011 with Panther Racing, in which he qualified seventh and finished 18th.
As of now, Schmidt has two programs this month for full-time drivers Simon Pagenaud and rookie Tristan Vautier.