Rahal Letterman Lanigan Teams With Sam Schmidt Motorsports To Enter Jay Howard in Indianapolis 500

HILLIARD, Ohio (March 8, 2011) – Two teams that have had a great deal of success at the Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway will team up this May in hopes of giving a young driver his first shot at glory in the Indi­anapolis 500.

2004 Indy 500 winners Rahal Letterman Lanigan will partner with Sam Schmidt Motor­sports, which has won a record-setting five Freedom 100 Indy Lights events at the Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway, to campaign former Fire­stone Indy Lights cham­pion Jay Howard at this year’s Indy 500 driving the #88 Service Central Indy Car.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan has made 22 starts in the Memo­rial Day classic, and has nine top-10 finishes to its credit including Buddy Rice’s victory in 2004. The Ohio-based team has had great success with young drivers at Indy as well, carrying Danica Patrick and Ryan Hunter-Reay to Indy 500 Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

Sam Schmidt is also no stranger to Indi­anapolis success with young drivers, having taken Thiago Medeiros, Wade Cunningham, Alex Lloyd and Jaime Camara to Victory Circle at Indy as part of his team’s series-record 37 Fire­stone Indy Lights victories.

“The Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway is a very special place and we have always taken great pride in performing well there,” said SSM owner Sam Schmidt. “Having the chance to work with a team like Rahal Letterman Lanigan gives us even more reason to be opti­mistic about our chances for success. Jay Howard is a very talented driver and we look forward to a promising month of May.”

The 2006 Indy Lights cham­pion, Howard will be trying to qualify for his first Indi­anapolis 500, after narrowly missing the field in 2008 and 2010. The 30-year-old Englishman has nine IZOD Indy Car Series starts to his credit, including four last season with Sarah Fisher Racing while carrying the Service Central colors.

“I think Jay has always been right on the brink of breaking through in Indy Car racing and our plan is to provide him with every­thing he needs to take that next step,” said RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Between Sam’s team and ours, we have the expe­ri­ence, knowl­edge and ability to provide an entry that will allow Jay to show his skills.”

“We are excited to have a second Service Central® entry in the Indy 500 this year,” Said Orland Wolford, Pres­i­dent at CEO TBC Retail Group. “The part­ner­ship between Sam Schmidt Motor­sports and Rahal Letterman Lanigan will surely provide Jay with a great oppor­tu­nity and a powerful entry. We look forward to watching Jay cham­pion the Service Central car at the Indy 500.”

Prac­tice for the 100th anniver­sary Indi­anapolis 500 will begin on May 15, with qual­i­fying set for the 22nd and 23. The 500-mile race will begin at noon Eastern Time on May 29 and will be seen live on ABC.

About Service Central:

Service Central® is the auto­mo­tive service offering avail­able exclu­sively at Tire Kingdom®, NTB-National Tire and Battery®, Merchant’s Tire and Auto®, and Big O Tires®. Avail­able at nearly 1,300 loca­tions nation­wide, its trained and certi­fied ASE tech­ni­cians use state-of-the art equip­ment to provide quality service on cars or trucks. The nation­wide warranty provides peace of mind while it protects consumers and their invest­ment in over 40 states. http://www.facebook.com/ServiceCentralRacing