Photo: Chris Jones/INDYCAR

Fittipaldi Building Momentum for Sonoma

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

After scoring the first top-10 finish of his Verizon IndyCar Series career at the Grand Prix of Portland, Pietro Fittipaldi hopes to make the most of his partial season with Dale Coyne Racing in the No. 19 Paysafe Honda in the season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway.

Fittipaldi had been splitting the car with former Indy Lights driver Zachary Claman De Melo and Santino Ferrucci before taking over the ride for the last five races of the 2018 season.

At Portland, Fittipaldi started 16th and thanks to a well-timed pit stop on Lap 42, the grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi found himself in 12th position which became ninth following the pit stops made under the following caution.

“The race went really well,” said Fittipaldi. Coming into the race, we knew it was going to be about strategy and being consistent and trying to get clean air to get track position, and that’s what we did.

“I’m really happy with the result. I had issues getting up to speed quickly on the restarts because I couldn’t get the brakes hot enough, so unfortunately, I lost some positions there. I also had no more overtake at the end, so I really had to stand my ground and we did that. I’m really happy with today’s result.”

Fittipaldi was still suffering some after-effects from a sports car crash in May and such, he was a little sore in his left leg following the race. Looking ahead to the Grand Prix of Sonoma, the Brazilian has a great opportunity to move himself into the top 10 again with teammates Sebastien Bourdais and Ferrucci.

“I obviously want to keep the momentum going at Sonoma,” said Fittipaldi in a pre-event release. “We had a good weekend at Gateway and then again at Portland and hopefully we can have another good one at Sonoma to end the season. We tested there in February and it went really well.

“The car has been consistently fast so I’m looking forward to this weekend. I’m recovering every week, I’m getting better every weekend that I’m back in the car, I’m getting stronger and faster, so I’m happy with that. We just have to keep it going.”

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.