IndyCar: Sam Schmidt says Robert Wickens ‘absolutely’ still has a seat

Robert Wickens, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, IndyCar (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)
Robert Wickens, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, IndyCar (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images) /

Should Robert Wickens ever be able to physically compete in IndyCar again, Sam Schmidt has confirmed that he still has a ride with his team.

After Robert Wickens was left paralyzed below the waist two years ago today following a horrifying crash at Pocono Raceway, he has been determined to get back behind the wheel of an IndyCar, and his recovery thus far has been remarkable to say the least.

As a rookie, Wickens drove for the Sam Schmidt co-owned Schmidt Peterson Motorsports behind the wheel of the #6 Honda, and the team made clear that should the 31-year-old Canadian ever be physically able to get back behind the wheel, that car would still be there for him.

But Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have undergone a number of changes since then. They added Arrow as their title sponsor ahead of the 2019 season and then partnered with McLaren and switched from Honda to Chevrolet engines to become Arrow McLaren SP ahead of the 2020 season.

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However, the promise to the 2018 Rookie of the Year Award remains intact.

Speaking to Beyond the Flag ahead of the Indy 500, Schmidt confirmed that Wickens has a ride with the team that is still ready for him if he is ever able to get back behind the wheel.

“Absolutely,” he stated. “We have the rights to 5, 6 and 7, and that number 6 is reserved for him, which is why we’re running 66 for Fernando [Alonso] this next week. But if he can figure out the control and show us how he can be fast, he’s definitely got a seat. I think we’ll see him in something else before IndyCar, to be able to develop a steering system, a brake system, a gas system, and once he kind of checks that box and he’s successful, he’ll drive an IndyCar.”

He spoke more about Wickens’s rehabilitation process.

“It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of dedication, and he definitely has that,” Schmidt said. “He was willing to put in the work. The process is getting refined as we go, but he has come a long way. The best part about it is he has inspired and motivated a lot of other people along the way. His job isn’t done, but we expect Robert to get back in a race car at some point, and that will be the full circle moment.”

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Patricio O’Ward and rookie Oliver Askew are Arrow McLaren SP’s two full-time drivers for the 2020 season, with Fernando Alonso set to drive a third car in the 104th running of the Indy 500 this Sunday, August 23. They drive the #5 Chevrolet, the #7 Chevrolet and the #66 Chevrolet, respectively.