By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
After a long offseason, the 2019 Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires is but two months away from starting off all three 2019 championships on the streets of St. Petersburg. Let’s take a look at how the current grids stack up across all three championships.
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires
In Indy Lights, four teams have confirmed one driver each with many more to be signed. Andretti Autosport is planning on running three or four cars and so far have signed Ryan Norman as one of their drivers. The team tested Robert Megennis and Oliver Askew at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test and both Americans are on the radar of the Indianapolis-based squad.
BN Racing announced David Malukas was moving up to Indy Lights for 2019 after spending a year in what was the Pro Mazda championship (now Indy Pro 2000) in 2018. Belardi Auto Racing brought Zachary Claman De Melo back to Indy Lights after a partial 2018 IndyCar season.
Rinus VeeKay joins Juncos Racing for his second season with the team after winning the Indy Pro 2000 championship last season and will drive the Soul Red Mazda-liveried Dallara IL-15. He is expected to have a teammate. Also expected to enter Indy Lights are Team Pelfrey and perhaps Carlin as well, the latter having withdrawn from Indy Lights to focus on their IndyCar effort.
Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires
The series got a bit of a makeover after 2018. Following Mazda’s departure from the Road to Indy, the championship surfaced with a new name for 2019 in Indy Pro 2000. So far three teams have been confirmed. Pabst Racing announced they would run in Indy Pro 2000 in 2019 but have not announced a driver yet. Jacob Abel will race for his family’s team in Abel Motorsports while Nikita Lastochkin will race for Exclusive Autosport. Juncos Racing and Team Pelfrey have not announced their lineups yet for 2019 but both teams are rumored to have multiple cars.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship
The 2019 USF2000 grid is starting to shape up nicely with eight drivers confirmed for the grid for this year. Hunter McElrea has yet to announce who he’s driving for but the winner of the Road to Indy shootout in December 2018 will have a fully funded ride thanks to Mazda.
Pabst Racing and Miller Vinatieri Motorsports each have two drivers announced with Colin Kaminsky and Yuven Sundaramoorthy driving for the Wisconsin-based team while the Westfield, IN team co-owned by former Indianapolis 500 competitor Dr. Jack Miller and Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has Miller’s son Jack William Miller in one car and Rubens Barrichello’s son Eduardo in the other car.
Pastor Will Marotti is continuing his racing involvement by starting a USF2000 team with Jason Reichert behind the wheel while Jay Howard Driver Development has Louisiana-born Christian Bogle signed for a drive in both USF2000 and F4 U.S.
Legacy Autosport rose from the ashes of RJB Motorsports and with it comes Alex Baron for the 2019 USF2000 season. More teams are expected to be on the grid including Team BENIK, Exclusive Autosport, BN Racing, DEForce Racing, Newman Wachs Racing and Cape Motorsports but drivers have yet to be announced for any of those teams.
One team that won’t be on the USF2000 grid will be Team Pelfrey. The yellow-liveried squad is focusing on Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights and will forgo involving themselves in USF2000.
2019 is shaping up to be a good year for the Road to Indy and with a new venue in Circuit of the Americas and a return of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca coming up, hopes are higher than ever for the drivers and the teams.