By Road to Indy
PALMETTO, Fla. – The 2019 Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development program will kick off another exciting season of racing for all three levels as Andersen Promotions today confirmed that the traditional Spring Training Open Test will return to Homestead-Miami Speedway, in Homestead, Fla., on March 2-4, 2019.
The proven ladder system, which offers a series of scholarships to assist young drivers in progressing all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series, will continue for a 10th consecutive season. As recently confirmed by INDYCAR, the value of the Indy Lights champion’s scholarship prize will rise to $1.1 million next season, ensuring entry into a minimum of three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2020, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.
Next year’s Spring Training will comprise three days of on-track action on the 2.21-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway road course. The first two rungs on the open-wheel ladder, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, will each take to the track on Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3, with a total of four hours of testing time.
The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires field will have its own dedicated day of action on Monday, March 4, comprising five hours of track time on the road course.
In addition to testing, Spring Training will include the invaluable Road to Indy Driver Summit Program, which collectively will provide the perfect “warmup” for the start of the regular season on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 8-10. Activities include a comprehensive competition presentation, media training – which most recently was hosted by prominent authorities and noted broadcasters Leigh Diffey and Kevin Lee – and unique presentations on the sixth annual Cooper Tires social media hashtag program and Road to Indy TV, which returns for its sixth season.
“The Spring Training program really starts off our season on a high note,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Competitors can take what they learn from a variety of facets and apply this knowledge only a few days later when we head to St. Petersburg. There is plenty of track time and classroom time, which is part of our goal of preparing drivers as best we can. The three days also gives us a look at how much drivers have learned as they move up the ladder and which newcomers look poised to shine. This and our annual Chris Griffis test are really exciting as we watch all the progress being made by teams and drivers alike.”
The current Mazda Road to Indy season has two pivotal rounds coming up at Gateway Motorsports Park, which features additional oval championship points and will be of major significance, and the season finale at Portland International Raceway. While Kyle Kirkwood of Cape Motorsports has already put his stamp on the USF2000 championship and scholarship to advance to Pro Mazda in 2019, the Indy Lights and Pro Mazda titles are still up for grabs.
Andretti Autosport’s Patricio O’Ward currently holds a 32-point margin over Colton Herta of Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing in Indy Lights while Rinus VeeKay of Juncos Racing sits 25 points ahead of Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson in the quest to secure a scholarship of $790,300 to advance from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights.