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Vautier joins Sam Schmidt's IndyCar team

INDIANPOLIS, Ind. (AP) - Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier is stepping up to the IndyCar Series with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

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The signing announced Tuesday makes Sam Schmidt's organization a two-car IndyCar Series team. Vautier will team with Simon Pagenaud, last year's IndyCar rookie of the year.

The two French drivers worked together in December during a test at Sebring.

Vautier won his debut race in Indy Lights last season en route to the championship, and did the same in the Star Mazda Series in 2011.

Pagenaud scored four podiums and finished fifth in the final standings last season when SPM was a single car team. Team owner Schmidt believes the organization will be stronger with two cars, and Pagenaud has said he believes he can contend for the IndyCar championship in 2013.

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