Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc.

Claman de Melo Named Fittipaldi’s Replacement for Indy GP

By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer

Zachary Claman de Melo will be back in the No. 19 Paysafe Honda for Dale Coyne Racing (DCR) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – at least for the road course race.

DCR announced Thursday that Claman de Melo will replace the injured Pietro Fittipaldi in this weekend’s INDYCAR Grand Prix, adding an additional race to the Canadian’s schedule after three prior starts this season. He was originally slated to be out of the car until Detroit.

The call-up comes after Fittipaldi was injured in a qualifying crash for the FIA World Endurance Championship race at the Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. The 21-year-old sustained fractures to both legs in the incident and is out indefinitely as he recovers from successful surgery.

“I’m extremely excited to get to race at the INDYCAR Grand Prix this weekend aboard the #19 Paysafe car, but I’m sad that it’s under these circumstances,” Claman de Melo said in a DCR release. “My thoughts are first and foremost with Pietro (Fittipaldi), you never want to see that happen to a competitor, much less a teammate,” shared Claman De Melo.

“Getting to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always special. I enjoyed racing there in Indy Lights and I can’t wait to now get a chance to drive there aboard an Indy car. It’s a fun track with some good passing opportunities which means it should be a good show for the fans. Hopefully we can turn our luck around and come out of the weekend with a good result.”

Claman de Melo has prior experience on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indy road course. The 20-year-old has contested four Indy Lights races on the circuit, with a best finish of second in 2017.

DCR has yet to name a driver for the No. 19 Honda in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.