Team owner Sam Schmidt secured two of the top four starting positions for the Indy 500, but neither of his drivers was able to go the distance Sunday.
Polesitter Alex Tagliani led 20 laps in the No. 77 Dallara/Honda in the early stages of the race but experienced overheating issues early. His day finally ended on Lap 148 when he brushed the Turn 4 wall and bent his lower suspension arm on the right front wheel.
“I can’t thank enough my team,” said Tagliani, who finished 28th. “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 I back on track with all the tools I had in the car. So we were struggling with a very nervous car.
“It’s a shame because early on the car was so good I thought we had a shot at it all race long.”
Ten laps later, Townsend Bell collided with Ryan Briscoe in Turn 1 and slammed into the SAFER barrier. Bell, who rolled off fourth in the No. 99 Dallara/Honda, finished 26th.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports didn’t see the performances it expected, but if there was an upside to the team's day, it came from its technical alliance with Bryan Herta, owner of Dan Wheldon’s winning car.
“They dug all month,” Schmidt said. “The 77 and the 99 worked really well together and had fast cars. Unfortunately, they both got a little out of sequence. We probably should have finished at least second or third when all was said and done. You can’t second-guess what happens in this race, and that is what this place is all about.
“At least we got a little piece of that car rolling up on victory circle right there. It was Bryan’s, and that’s cool.”