Two more names have been confirmed to the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires lineup for the 2017 season, with one driver back for his fourth season and another coming over for his first one.
The BRDC British F3 champion, 19-year-old Brazilian driver Matheus Leist, will come Stateside for Carlin after winning four races and edging Ricky Collard for last year’s title. He’s also tested in GP3.
“I’m very excited to be joining Carlin in Indy Lights” said Leist. “I had quite a few options open to me in 2017, but a combination of things, including the opportunities in the US and on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, made Indy Lights a great option for me. I have raced against Carlin before so I know how hard they push as a team to win. I’m incredibly excited to get out on track in the car and get the season underway.”
Juan Piedrahita, meanwhile, will be back for a full-time campaign with Team Pelfrey. Piedrahita ran the full 2014 and 2015 seasons and most of 2016 before withdrawing with a few races remaining.
“We are extremely happy to welcome Juan back to Team Pelfrey IL for the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires,” said Pelfrey team manager, Gary Neal. “We built a lot of momentum in post 2016 season testing with Juan and I am sure we will see some great results this season.”
Neil Alberico (Carlin) and Garett Grist (Pelfrey) have also tested for those teams in preparation for the season, and Aaron Telitz (Belardi Auto Racing) has also done a wealth of testing for that team. None of those three have been formally confirmed for 2017 as yet.
This brings the confirmed number of drivers to 11 with three to four more expected to be named, and an estimated 14-15 cars for the St. Petersburg season opener.
The Indy Lights grid so far:
Carlin: Garth Rickards, Matheus Leist
Andretti Autosport: Dalton Kellett, Nico Jamin, Ryan Norman
Andretti Steinbrenner Racing: Colton Herta
Belardi Auto Racing: Santiago Urrutia, Shelby Blackstock
MORRISON, Colo. (AP) Robert Hight beat Tommy Johnson Jr. on Sunday in the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway to extend his Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons.
Hight topped Johnson with a 3.995-second pass at 317.57 mph in a Chevrolet Camaro SS for his 38th career victory.
“We definitely struggled through the first few rounds and we were lucky to get those round wins, but I have a great team who figured things out and helped get me to the winner’s circle,” Hight said. “It’s definitely a long-time coming and we hadn’t had much luck, but today we had some luck and we hope this continues throughout the Western Swing.”
Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Drew Skillman in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Brown edged teammate and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett with a 3.792 at 319.82. He has three victories this season to push his career total to 64.
Skillman raced to his second straight victory and the fifth of his career, beating points leader Bo Butner with a 6.916 run at 198.15 in a Camaro.
Krawiec topped Matt Smith with a 7.145 at 188.28. The Harley-Davidson rider has two victories this season and 38 overall.
Sauber confirms Matsushita for Hungary test as well
Honda junior driver Nobuhiro Matsushita will have a run with Sauber F1 Team on the second day of the Hungarian Grand Prix post-race week test, in the team’s C36 chassis.
Sauber’s engine selection for 2018 is up in the air. While the team announced a switch from year old Ferraris to Hondas, this was done under prior team principal Monisha Kaltenborn and rumors have persisted the deal may be off, or wasn’t fully done in the first place.
That Matsushita is running at this test for his first day in an F1 car – Gustav Malja will run on day one – could indicate the Honda switch isn’t yet a dead topic.
“When I was four years old, I was fascinated by Michael Schumacher, watching him racing in Formula 1. Since then my dream was to become a Formula 1 driver,” he said. “I am very excited about my first Formula 1 test and I am really looking forward to driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the Hungaroring – it is a great opportunity for me. I hope it will be a productive day for the team as well as for myself, so that I can learn as much as possible. I would like to thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this happen.”
New team boss Frederic Vasseur, formerly of Renault, gave his take on the test.
“I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula 1 car. Ever since his debut in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year. With this Formula 1 test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day.”
Renault Sport F1 Team has confirmed Robert Kubica will make his return to a current Formula 1 car in the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, which will only continue to fuel the hype train for a possible race return.
The Pole has undertaken two tests in recent weeks with older cars but this day in the Renault R.S.17 will provide the team a chance to evaluate him in current machinery to gauge his race level fitness.
It’s a story that has got the F1 world buzzing in recent weeks as Kubica, injured in a rally accident before the 2011 season, has made a comeback to restart his racing career.
Poor Nicholas Latifi, also confirmed for the test that runs the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Hungarian Grand Prix, will be undoubtedly overlooked as a result.
Jolyon Palmer will race in Hungary this weekend at least but whether the Brit continues beyond the summer break that follows afterwards remains a question mark.