Davey Hamilton celebrates Simon Pagenaud's Birthday

Davey Hamilton has multiple responsibilities during IZOD IndyCar Series race weekends, but he was never far from the action in the No. 77 car garage during the 2012 season.

Sam Schmidt envisions Hamilton's contributions to continue this season as co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Hamilton HP Motorsports, which again will have Simon Pagenaud in the Honda-powered No. 77 car for the 19-race season that kicks off March 24 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Last month, it was announced that Canadian businessman Ric Peterson had joined Schmidt as an equity partner in Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Tristan Vautier, the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights champion who was announced Jan. 29 as Pagenaud’s teammate, will drive the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car.

Schmidt, who acknowledged that a deal is not in place yet with Hamilton, said the triumvirate would catch up in the coming days. 

"We've known each other for 20 years, raced against each other, participated together in a lot of things over the last 20 years," Schmidt said of Hamilton, who drove the No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car in the team's first event in 2001 at Phoenix International Raceway. "We absolutely, positively wouldn't be where we are today without Davey's involvement.

"As far as I'm concerned, we have an agreement, we're headed forward. We're very much looking forward to raising the bar even to another notch in that program. I think we definitely had a lot of that really good momentum and mojo last year with Simon, the group of guys that he has. The strategy and the situation is not to mix that up, not to take a step back with that, but really to fill in some gaps."

Pagenaud, who recorded nine top-10 finishes with a high of second at Long Beach to earn the 2012 Sunoco Rookie of the Year award, is looking forward to a second season interacting with Hamilton.

“All of his experience at Indy and all of his experience on ovals in general, he always gave me some tips about the racetrack and how the races would evolve, how the car is going to change,” said Pagenaud, 28, of France, who finished fifth in the championship standings. “Sam also was a great help. Everybody acts and reacts differently to situations, and if I get two inputs it’s better than one.

“Davey’s a good team owner to have because he shows no stress and pressure. It’s enjoyable to have people who have confidence in me. It makes me want to do better.”

Hamilton, 50, made 56 IZOD IndyCar Series starts, including 11 in the Indianapolis 500 between 1991 and 2011. He was the series championship runner-up in the 1996-97 and 1998 seasons.

Hewlett Packard, the multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., which has a long association with Hamilton, came on board as the primary sponsor for the 2012 season.