Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Carlin adds Claman De Melo to Indy Lights lineup

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Zachary Claman De Melo is the third confirmed driver at Carlin’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program, with the Canadian moving over from Juncos Racing.

It ends an interesting offseason of speculation for the teenager, who tested with Carlin at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test, was linked to a move to Europe with the team before Carlin’s GP2 program ended, and now sees him in a Carlin car anyway. He also raced the Rolex 24 at Daytona with DAC Motorsports in a Lamborghini Huracán GT3, and finished 13th in the GT Daytona class.

Compared to teammates Garth Rickards and Matheus Leist, Claman De Melo will be the only one of these three drivers entering his sophomore season in the championship. The team has been rumored to expand to four cars, and such an expansion would all but ensure a landing spot for Rising Star Racing-supported American Neil Alberico ahead of a potential sophomore season.

Claman De Melo was quick and had a couple top-five finishes during a learning year in Indy Lights, and should be a little more consistent this year.

“We are very happy to have Zach join the team for 2017,” Trevor Carlin said in a release. “We’ve worked very successfully with Zach before and I think together we’ll get some great results this year.  It will be a tough field I think this season in Indy Lights, with some very strong/returning drivers and some quick rookies, but we’re putting together a strong package and are looking forward to getting on track at St Pete.”

He’s the 12th confirmed driver for Indy Lights this season, with the likelihood of two to three more still set to be revealed.

Alexander Rossi’s Grand Prix of Alabama gamble fails to pay off

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Alexander Rossi bobbled for the first time in 2018 with an 11th-place finish in the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

And to add insult to injury, Rossi also lost the points lead as a result.

Rossi got off to about as great a start to the season as possible. He finished third at St. Petersburg and sat third in the standings. He finished third again at Phoenix and climbed to second in the points.

Rossi won the Long Beach Grand Prix after starting from the pole and leading 71 laps. That put him at the top of the standings after three races.

Then, as quickly as he climbed to the top, he got knocked down a spot after finishing off the podium for the first time in 2018.

Rossi not only missed the podium, he finished outside the top 10.

“We didn’t get the result that we wanted,” Rossi said after the race. “That remains a mystery. But at the end of the day it was about survival. We couldn’t make the tires last; we couldn’t really get a great fuel number.”

The biggest negative was the one factor that was mostly out of his control. Rossi gambled that he was facing only a brief shower when rain began to fall with about 15 minutes remaining. He was wrong.

“We tried to be pretty aggressive on the dry tires and stay out and survive the rain, hoping it would dry out,” Rossi said. “And it didn’t really work.

“Sometimes you’ll have those days.”