New driver for No. 38 this weekend. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Flinn Lazier, Bayley Mickler set for USF2000 debuts in Barber

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The Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires is back in action this week after more than a month off since the season-opening St. Petersburg weekend. A couple new faces are set to debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season at Barber Motorsports Park.

Last week, John Cummiskey Racing announced karting and Skip Barber veteran Bayley Mickler will make his series debut in the team’s No. 33 Tatuus USF-17 Mazda.

Mickler, a 19-year-old out of Perth, Australia, will look to deliver the form on par with Cummiskey’s last Australian, last year’s USF2000 champ Anthony Martin, who cut his teeth at JCR in an excellent 2015 campaign.

Cummiskey ran New Zealander Michael Scott – not of NBC’s “The Office” – at the season finale last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Photo: John Cummiskey Racing

“We’ve heard lots of good things about Bayley, and we are looking forward to getting him in the No. 33 car,” said Cummiskey, whose car will feature Regency Food Services sponsorship for the weekend. “Though he only has a year in open wheel cars he’s already shown his potential, and we think he can get up to speed quickly. We are expecting good things from him.”

Meanwhile today it was announced a famous last name makes its debut in the Mazda Road to Indy.

Photo: Newman Wachs Racing

Flinn Lazier, son of 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion and perennial modern day one-off runner Buddy Lazier, will be in Newman Wachs Racing’s No. 38 entry. A skiing and soccer star outside the track, the Vail, Col. native has moved from karting to Formula Vee the last few years.

“I am very excited to say that we will have Flinn Lazier driving the No. 38 NWR car at Barber and hopefully we’ll have him with us for more events this season,” said team manager Brian Halahan.  “With all the racing history that the name Lazier carries, this makes a great story and a great opportunity for our team to help him move forward with his racing career.

“This whole thing started when a long-time friend who works with Flinn in racing contacted me recently and said I should speak to him, and here we are!”

JCR ran Kris Wright in the team’s No. 34 car at St. Petersburg and we shall see whether he will continue this weekend. Lazier replaces Cameron Das in NWR’s No. 38 car; Das was only on a one-weekend deal with the team at St. Petersburg.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.