Firestone Indy Lights drivers and teams will be busy over the next week or so thanks to two Open Test sessions in the Southeast.
Tomorrow and Friday will see the Lights contingent tackle the famous Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, and then they’ll join the IZOD IndyCar Series for testing at Barber Motorsports Park (Birmingham, Ala.) next Monday. Nine participants, one of them being a Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver that’s yet to be determined, are expected to take part in the Sebring test.
Amongst that group is top American prospect Zach Veach, who has moved up to Lights this season with Andretti Autosport. Veach and teammate Carlos Munoz were at the top of the charts in January’s FIL Open Test session on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course, and the 18-year-old Ohioan believes that working with Munoz (who finished fifth in Lights last season) will make him a better racer.
“I’m very fortunate to have such a strong teammate this year like Carlos,” Veach said in a recent INDYCAR teleconference. “He was very successful last year, and he’s really putting a lot of pressure on me this year and definitely making me drive a lot harder.
“Throughout testing here the past couple of times, we’ve been [within] tenths or hundredths of Carlos, so I have a feeling that we’ll be really prepared as we go into the season, and I’ll be pushing really hard to get some wins this year.”
In addition to the Andretti duo of Veach and Munoz, Sam Schmidt Motorsports is expected to bring three drivers to Sebring: The aformentioned “Driver TBD,” Gabby Chaves, and 2012 Pro Mazda champion Jack Hawksworth. Also in for Sebring are two Belardi Auto Racing pilots, Jorge Goncalvez and Peter Dempsey, and Team Moore Racing’s Juan Pablo Garcia and Mikael Grenier.
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are the two most decorated drivers currently on the Formula 1 grid, with seven World Championships between them (four for Vettel, and three for Hamilton).
However, their paths have rarely crossed on the track, and only in 2010 did both drivers battle each for a World Championship in the same year. They also battled Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber that year, with Vettel emerging on top to claim his first World Championship.
However, the 2017 season sees Hamilton and Vettel in the two best cars on the grid, and they have gone head-to-head multiple times already this year, with each claiming two victories through the first five races. Currently, Vettel leads Hamilton 104-98 in the world championship, and the two men are developing a strong on-track rivalry.
Monaco Grand Prix coverage continues with FP3 and qualifying on Saturday. Full times are linked here.
In Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, we take you behind the scenes during F1 superstar Fernando Alonso’s qualifying runs for the Indy 500, including when he was on the pole for a brief period. He’ll eventually start fifth.
On Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, Parker Kligerman and his backseat driver, Kyle Petty, took to the iRacing simulator to make a mock run around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
They look at the challenges of IMS, as well as the challenges two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will face in the first oval track race in his illustrious career. Alonso is among the favorites in the race and will take the green flag from the middle of Row 2 (fifth position).
Check out the above video.
Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula 1’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.
Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400-lap, 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).