Garth Rickards is the first driver confirmed for Carlin’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program next season, with the Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania native stepping up from the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda ranks into an Dallara IL-15 Mazda.
Carlin ran three cars this year with Ed Jones winning the championship, and graduating to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne Racing. Neil Alberico isn’t confirmed but seems very likely to be back for a second season while a third car would be a topic of intrigue.
As for 24-year-old Rickards, he completed two years in USF2000 with Team Pelfrey and Pabst Racing, and scored his first series podium with third at Mid-Ohio last year, at his de facto home track. Rickards has tested extensively with Carlin this offseason prior to this signing. He showed a lot of pace in USF2000 but was frequently unlucky from a results standpoint, and perhaps that’s why his overall mark wasn’t as good as it could have been.
“To say I am excited is an understatement and I can’t thank everyone who was involved enough,” Rickards said. “Carlin has proven that they are one of the best junior open wheel teams in the world with their track record. Their focus on driver development will really help me grow and move my way up through the field in my rookie season.
“Trevor and the whole Carlin squad have been extremely supportive and I’m excited to work with them hopefully for many years. I want to personally thank David Luther and Luther Automotive for believing in me and helping me continue to chase my dream. Together with all my associate sponsors coming on board it has put us in a great position to be a force in 2017.”
Team principal Trevor Carlin added, “We are extremely pleased to have Garth join us here at Carlin for 2017. Garth has shown real potential in his career so far and it’s always nice to see a driver moving further up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. We know that Garth will be a strong addition to our team and having already worked with him over the course of a test program we’re looking forward continuing where we left off and building a strong program together for the season ahead.”
Rickards is the ninth Indy Lights driver confirmed for 2017. Andretti Autosport (with Steinbrenner Racing for Colton Herta’s entry, 4 total cars), Juncos Racing (2) and Belardi Auto Racing (2) have also confirmed entries with Team Pelfrey now the only team yet to reveal its first driver for next season.