Davey Hamilton back with Schmidt; team under one name

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Davey Hamilton has renewed his partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, where the former driver will continue as co-owner of the No. 77 Honda driven by Simon Pagenaud.

“Working with Simon Pagenaud and the entire Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team has been fun because we know that each time the car hits the track we have the opportunity to win,” Hamilton said. “This is a true team sport, and having continuity in personnel for the third year in a row will enable us to not only win more races but also contend for a championship.”

This is doubly good news for SPM and for IndyCar observers, for multiple reasons.

For one, Hamilton was the driving force behind the HP sponsorship that adorned Pagenaud’s car the last two seasons. With Hamilton’s known business savvy – he put together deals with HP and other brands to race in the Indianapolis 500 five straight years from 2007 through 2011 with multiple teams – and co-owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson, the trio should be well on their way to finding new backers to replace HP for 2014.

Second, this removes the awkward, clunky nomenclature that SPM had in 2013. The Pagenaud entry was labeled as the Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports No. 77, while the second car, Tristan Vautier, was the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 55. For good measure, the team’s third car at Indianapolis, driven by Katherine Legge, was officially the No. 81 Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey Motorsports entry.

For 2014, Hamilton’s still there, but his name isn’t in the team name, which saves us all the trouble of remembering which car had which ownership structure for naming rights. Pagenaud and teammate Mikhail Aleshin (now No. 7) will both run under the single Schmidt Peterson Motorsports banner, and Hamilton’s presence is a plus to the team and the paddock.

Additional commercial announcements should come, if not before IndyCar media day on Feb. 18 in Orlando, likely before IndyCar’s official preseason test at Barber Motorsports Park next month.

UPDATED: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama under red-flag race stoppage due to rain

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UPDATE: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.