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Dale Coyne Racing confirms Fittipaldi, Claman DeMelo in No. 19

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The final full-time seat in the Verizon IndyCar Series has been filled. Pietro Fittipaldi, last year’s World Series Formula V8 3.5 champion, and Zachary Claman DeMelo, a race winner in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship, will split time behind the wheel of Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda, alongside veteran Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18.

Global payments provider Paysafe, which sponsored Claman DeMelo during his outing with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at last year’s season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, will serve as the primary sponsor of the entry.

Claman DeMelo will begin the season with the team at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March, while Fittipaldi, the grandson of Formula 1 world champion, IndyCar champion, and Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, will see his first race action at the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway in April and is also scheduled to race the entry at the Indianapolis 500.

In total, Fittipaldi will contest seven races, with Claman DeMelo slated for the other ten.

β€œPaysafe helped me attain a life ambition last September when I made my Verizon IndyCar Series debut in Sonoma,” Claman DeMelo said in a team announcement. β€œI am hugely grateful for their ongoing support as I prepare for the forthcoming races; I feel proud to be representing their brand again on the race track and I shall be doing all I can to get the Paysafe car into victory lane!”

Fittipaldi, meanwhile, expressed great excitement at the chance to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Emerson and uncle Christian by bringing the Fittipaldi name back to Indianapolis.

“This is a dream come true, even more so to be racing in the Indy 500, where my family already has a history of great results,” revealed the young Fittipaldi. “I want to thank the entire team at Dale Coyne Racing, along with my long-time sponsors, Escuderia Telmex and Paysafe for this massive opportunity and important step in my career. I’m very excited and proud to be racing on a world stage like the Verizon IndyCar Series this year.”

Both Fittipaldi and Claman DeMelo are in Phoenix this week for IndyCar Media Day, with Fittipaldi also set to begin testing at ISM Raceway after the team fitted his seat into the No. 19 chassis.

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NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

β€œI flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.