Separate Indy Lights moves see Dempsey out, Daly in for Houston

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There’s a pair of changes for the Firestone Indy Lights Series next weekend at Houston, the penultimate round of their championship.

The unfortunate news first: Peter Dempsey, the popular and eternally snakebit Irishman, has yet again found himself a victim of circumstances. He and the Belardi Auto Racing team announced a lack of funding to get him through the final two races of the season.

“It’s very disappointing to not be in a position to finish out the championship with Belardi Auto Racing,” Dempsey said in a team release.  “However, I do fully understand the unfortunate reasons for their decision.  Motorsport is an expensive sport and things like this happen all the time.  I’ve really enjoyed the last year with the team.  Brian [Belardi] gave me the biggest opportunity anyone has ever given me, and that’s something I will never forget.”

Dempsey’s fourth-to-first last lap move in the Firestone Freedom 100 was his and Belardi’s first career win in Indy Lights, and a highlight for the finish of the year in racing. He stands fifth in points, 35 behind series leader Sage Karam.

Meanwhile, one of the most versatile drivers of the 2013 season, Conor Daly, will make his return to Indy Lights for the Houston weekend. He’ll drive the No. 22 TMR-RUS INDUSTRIAL-ALS ASSOCIATION entry for Team Moore Racing; Mark Moore’s squad returns to the track after withdrawing at Baltimore with then-driver Juan Pablo Garcia.

“I’m very excited to get in a Lights car with Team Moore Racing,” said Daly, who won the Long Beach Indy Lights race in 2011, his only year in the series. “They’re prepared at a high level and I can’t wait to get on the street course in Houston. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the car, but I am confident we can get up to speed quickly. I’ve known Mark for a long time and I’m glad we could put something together.”

Daly has raced the Indianapolis 500, GP2, GP3 and the MRF Challenge championships this year.

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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