Indy Lights test at Sebring later this week features 12 cars


The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series has a two-day test (Jan. 7-8) scheduled for later this week at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. IndyCar remains in a winter testing blackout until after the 8th; still, Lights running is at least some signs of life for the American open-wheel world in an otherwise dreary, long, frigid winter.

The 12 cars entered for the test match last year’s season-high set at Houston. It’s a promising sign to see this many cars already because chances are enough budgets will materialize for at least two or three more cars come the St. Petersburg season opener in late March.

As to who’ll be driving them, the seven confirmed driver/team combinations will all be in action. Those are:

  • Team Moore Racing: 2-Zack Meyer
  • Belardi Auto Racing: 4-Alex Baron
  • Fan Force United: 24-Scott Anderson
  • Andretti Autosport: 26-Zach Veach, 83-Matthew Brabham
  • Bryan Herta Autosport/Jeffrey Mark Motorsport: 28-Lloyd Read
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: 42-Jack Harvey

The other five are extra cars from some of the above teams. Moore adds a second car for 19-year-old Englishman Raoul Owens, who has sponsorship for another season of European-level Formula Renault. Belardi’s second car will be driven by Gabby Chaves, who finished second in this year’s championship. Andretti adds a third car for 19-year-old Italian Vittorio Ghirelli, who has GP2, GP3, Formula Two, World Series by Renault and Auto GP experience. In the latter series, he won the 2013 championship.

Schmidt Peterson adds two extras for Colombian Juan Piedrahita, who has spent the last two years in Pro Mazda, and, intriguingly, for Luiz Razia, whose F1 hopes for Marussia were dashed before the start of last season. Razia is known to be exploring American options and tweeted over the weekend that he was in Indianapolis.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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