Photo: Matthew Paul

Road to Indy Grids Expand with Announcements

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

All three championships on the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires had driver announcements filter through so let’s take a look at all the announcements to expand the number of cars on the respective championships.

In the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship winner Oliver Askew was a late addition to spring testing at Circuit of the Americas for Andretti Autosport. The Jupiter, Florida native signed a contract to race the No. 28 entry for the Indianapolis-based squad alongside Ryan Norman and Robert Megennis. Julien Falchero also tested for Andretti Autosport but no news has surfaced about him racing for the team.

Carlin had a pair of Dallara IL-15 cars at COTA for Dalton Kellett and Logan Sargeant. Kellett has raced for Andretti Autosport the last few years and this recent test might be an indication of 2019 plans. Sargeant is the younger brother of NASCAR driver Dalton Sargeant and recently signed with Carlin for their European F3 team.

In Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires, Exclusive Autosport announced a pair of drivers while Juncos Racing announced their first driver. Ricardo Juncos’s team announced that 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship runner-up Rasmus Lindh would drive one of their Tatuus PM-18 entries. Lindh had nine top-five finishes last year including four in a row to finish off the season.

As for the Canadian squad, Exclusive Autosport announced that part-time USF2000 driver Danial Frost will move up to Indy Pro 2000 after seven starts in USF2000. Frost scored enough points in seven races to overtake two drivers in the 2018 USF2000 standings that ran every race. The team also announced Canadian Parker Locke as their third driver. Locke ran in F3 Americas last year scoring three podium finishes in eight races.

Moving down to the USF2000 championship, a flurry of announcements has increased the grid size so far to 15 drivers. Reigning championship team Cape Motorsports announced that Braden Eves will partner Reece Gold behind the wheel of one of their Tatuus USF-17 entries. Eves sampled USF2000 competition last year at Portland International Raceway and was a finalist for the Team USA Scholarship program but had to step out of final consideration for a medical issue.

Mazdaspeed Scholarship winner Hunter McElrea signed with Pabst Racing Services and will drive the Soul Red Mazda car for the two-time defending team champions. The team went winless in USF2000 competition for the first time since 2013 and are hoping McElrea can change that statistic.

DEForce Racing signed Mexican driver Manuel Sulaiman to drive the first of their USF2000 entries. Sulaiman currently leads the Mexican F4 championship standings. While DEForce signed their first driver, Jay Howard Driver Development signed their second and third drivers. Christian Rasmussen and Matthew Round-Garrido will partner Christian Bogle in the Westfield, Indiana team. Rasmussen finished third in the 2018 F4 U.S. championship and the 2017 Danish F4 championship while Round-Garrido won the 2018 Northern Irish Formula Ford 1600 championship and was third in the British Formula Ford championship.

Newman Wachs Racing are back for 2019 with a pair of hard chargers in Australian Cameron Shields and American Nolan Siegel in their orange, black and white cars. Shields was the 2018 Australian F3 runner-up and tested a Pro Mazda car at last year’s Chris Griffis Memorial Test while Siegel won the 2018 Sonoma F3 championship at the young age of 13.

There are three weeks to go until the Road to Indy seasons start and there are still more driver announcements to take place.

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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.