INDIANAPOLIS -- Sam Schmidt, owner of Sam Schmidt Motorsports, said he respects Buddy Rice's decision not to drive his team's third car to try and qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
Time is running out to find a replacement.
Rice, the 2004 Indy 500 winner, was set to join Simon Pagenaud and Tristan Vautier as Schmidt's drivers in qualifying on Saturday, but he chose not to compete.
"It was a joint decision," Schmidt said Wednesday in his garage. "I was looking for funding, he was looking for money. If we couldn't give him a proper two or three days of testing, he just didn't want to be involved, which is fine."
Schmidt said he would have liked to have Rice's experience as part of the team.
"The bottom line is, we were doing our best effort to find the funding to get Buddy in a car today to get him an adequate amount of time to practice so he could qualify on Saturday, and at the end of the day, we couldn't find the funding in time."
Bryan Clauson, Jay Howard and Katherine Legge are also hoping to land in Schmidt's open car.
"They're usually in here on a revolving door all day long, looking for an update, so we've talked to all of them," Schmidt said. "We're slowly running out of time here, but it's not out of the question."
An already short amount of prep time is likely to be shorter because of Mother Nature.
"With rain looking ominous for the next couple days, best-case scenario is a Saturday-Sunday qualifying thing and go race," Schmidt said.